channel vice president

Meet Bill Fitzgerald, Barracuda’s new Americas Channel Vice President

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In July of this year, Barracuda welcomed a new Vice President of Channels, Americas to its ranks. Bill Fitzgerald brings a wealth of experience to the position and promises to build on Barracuda’s strong channel relationships. As channel sales become ever more significant in driving the company’s growth, Bill will have his work cut out for him — whether growing the channel ecosystem, helping individual channel partners more effectively execute on their strengths, or fine-tuning channel incentive programs to more accurately reflect the most current concerns and interests of the channel community.

With Barracuda’s customer conference Secured.21 just around the corner, we thought it was a good time to sit down with Bill and ask him a few questions to help our customers and channel partners get a better idea of what to expect from the incoming VP.

Bill FitzgeraldQ&A with Bill Fitzgerald, VP of Channels, Americas

What drew you to Barracuda?

I’ve spent most of my career — 20 years — at EMC, where I actually started out in the channel business. I had a number of roles there, always coming back to working with channel partners.

Anyway, when I left EMC, I was interested in transitioning from the storage business into the security business. I found a couple of roles with startups in the past few years that have helped me to grow professionally. And in the process, I connected with Chad Lindsey, who is Barracuda’s Sales VP, Americas, and Glenn Esposito, who is Senior Vice President, Sales and Field Operations. They came to feel that with my background I could contribute to growing Barracuda’s presence in the channel, and as such, Barracuda’s overall business.

So far, Barracuda has fulfilled all my expectations. The culture here really closely matches my own long-held beliefs about how to build a successful business. From CEO Hatem Naguib on down the line, the leadership here is clearly firing on all cylinders, and I’m very excited to be joining the team.

What impressions have you gained about Barracuda in the short time you’ve been here?

First of all, here in the Atlanta office I’ve observed a really fantastic level of collegial support. Young people just getting started have a tremendous amount of support and guidance, and if anyone wants an opinion or to get a question answered, there are literally a dozen different doors they can knock on and get just what they need to get better in their jobs. Compared to other sales organizations, it’s almost unfair—like trying to be a baseball player in Florida versus Alaska.

Another thing that strikes me is the large number of people who “bleed” blue. There are a lot of eight- and nine-year veterans here, many of which have come up through the ranks. Now, that speaks to the strength of the company culture, and it helps perpetuate that culture. What really seems to be true throughout the company, and across roles and departments, is that people genuinely care about helping others be successful.

What do you hope to accomplish in the coming year?

I’m a firm believer in learning from partners, and so one thing I’m doing is making our Partner Advisory Council a priority. I want to learn everything I can about what our channel partners need from us and how we can help them to be successful. So as a clear metric, I intend to personally be in touch with at least 100 of our partners over the coming quarter.

Having said that, it’s also clear that I’m going to need to gently redirect our channel program. I’m not talking about big changes, but we need to really take a good look at certain incentives and other programs or metrics that may have been exactly right five years ago but maybe today they’re not really helping with bottom-line performance. So, we’ll be moving pretty aggressively to fine-tune a few things.

Ultimately, the bottom line for me is this: In this industry there’s probably $500 billion worth of business that runs through the channel, and if we want to capture as much of that as possible, we’ve got to work with our partners, not against them. Just because we may have an idea of a new way of doing things, it doesn’t mean we should be kind of forcing our partners to take on that idea. Instead, it’s more give and take, and we need to be supporting our partners in doing business the way they know how to do it.

Can you say a little more about how to grow and maintain productive partner relationships?

It’s about working with partners to assess their strengths and then help them to build on those strengths and perform as well as possible. For example, Barracuda has a lot of solutions in different categories, right? Email security, cloud security, application security, network security, data protection. And within Barracuda, from a strategic standpoint, we may decide that this quarter we really want to focus on building, say, our email security business. And that’s fine, but maybe there’s a partner out there that doesn’t really have an interest in email security, but they’re really doing a great job selling application and network security solutions. Well, for that partner, pounding on email security is just not the right way to go. Sure, over time we want to develop and grow their ability to sell our entire line, but in the short term we need to make sure that we have programs to really support them in doing what they do best already.

So that’s where I’m coming from in terms of building relationships and letting our partners take the lead and show us what we need to do to support them.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’ll let you know when I get some! No, seriously, I do enjoy playing golf, but spending time with the family comes first. I’ve been married for 21 years, and we’ve got four kids between nine and sixteen years old, so that keeps us plenty busy.

Is there anything about you that might come as a surprise to your colleagues and partners?

That’s a tough question. I guess one thing is the way I summarize my philosophy about what makes a company successful. It’s kind of a mantra of always putting the company first.

Now I think that would surprise some people because they’re more used to hearing “customer first,” but to me putting company first means that everyone is pulling the same direction. As an individual you may disagree with this or that strategic decision, and that’s an argument you get to make. But once the strategy is set, everyone has to get behind it and support each other in executing that strategy.

That’s the best way to make sure that our customers and partners are getting the best that we can deliver. It’s the best way to achieve company goals in terms of growth and revenue and product development. And based on what I’ve seen, whether they would express it that way or not, Barracuda’s culture is all about that “company first” approach, all day every day. Ultimately, that’s why I feel confident that I’m in the right place, at the right time.

Barracuda Partner Program

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