Microsoft Partner Group Restructures

Microsoft channel chief Allison Watson laid out in an internal e-mail Tuesday a new structure for her Worldwide Partner Group and described a new partner subsidiary, called the Partner Leadership Team, for the fiscal year starting July 1.

The leadership reorganization comes in advance of changes to the four-year-old Microsoft Partner Program that are expected to be unveiled in July.

Among the executive changes are the departure from Watson's Worldwide Partner Group of two senior executives. Sherle Webb-Robins, the general manager of the Microsoft Partner Program for the last 18 months, has moved into a role within the Enterprise Partner Group. Kati Hvidtfeldt, who had been senior director of ISV and Microsoft Business Solution partner strategy, is also leaving the group to take an undisclosed role.

Watson herself will take an extended break after the Worldwide Partner Conference, which ends July 12, a spokesperson said. It will be a two-month break for "personal reasons," rather than the usual one-month vacation Watson takes after WPC, the spokesperson said.

Filling Webb-Robins' role as general manager of the Microsoft Partner Program will be Julie Bennani, who joins Microsoft from Accenture, a global consulting and outsourcing company. Of Bennani's 11 years at Accenture, the last six were focused on Microsoft sales and channel strategy.

Some possible clues to the changes coming to the Microsoft Partner Program this summer appear in Bennani's job description and the addition of "engine" titles among three others of Watson's direct reports. According to Watson's e-mail, one of Bennani's responsibilities will be to "design the next-generation inbound experience for all non-managed partners."

Microsoft's non-enterprise partners are now segmented among three engines -- the Solution Partner Engine run by Global Business Leader (GBL) Don Nelson, the Transaction Channel Engine run by GBL Jenni Flinders, and the ISV Partner Engine run by GBL Naseem Tuffaha. All three executives already reported to Watson.

Flinders previously served as director of Business Management in the WPG, and that position is currently open. Her new role involves the formation of a new team managing large account resellers, direct-market resellers and distributors. Part of Flinders' job description is executing on channel incentives to help Microsoft shift to Software Plus Services.

Two other WPG veterans are taking on slightly expanded roles. Marie Huwe, General Manager of Partner Marketing, adds the title of GBL for Partner Strategy and Programs. Todd Weatherby is named General Manager of SMS&P (Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners) Product Management, which adds coordination of product planning and roadmaps to his existing roles for overseeing self-service platforms for partners and customers.

In order to increase collaboration with related Microsoft organizations, Watson's team will include three executives who report to other groups. John Zanni, who handles Hosting Partners for the Communication Sector team, will help the WPG build the channel framework for Software Plus Services. Peter Boit, a vice president who works with Alliance Partners in the Enterprise Partner Group, will also be part of the Extended Leadership Team. (Webb-Robins now reports to Boit to lead systems integrator and Global Delivery Alliances.) A third member of the Extended Leadership Team to represent Dynamics Partners has not been named.

Meanwhile, the new subsidiary, called the Worldwide Partner Leadership Team, will begin work in Microsoft's fiscal year 2008, beginning July 1. According to Watson's e-mail, the Redmond-based team will be "responsible for setting strategy and policy direction. The PLT model, which includes representatives from all partner-facing groups at Microsoft, will also be established at the subsidiary level in FY08 to ensure consistent field execution of company-wide channel strategy."

Members include Watson corporate vice president (CVP), Worldwide Partner Group; Sanjay Parthasarathy, CVP, Developer and Platform Evangelism; Klaus Holse Andersen, CVP, Dynamics Sales and Operations; Boit; Scott Di Valerio, CVP, OEM Division; Mitch Koch, CVP, Global Retail Sales and Marketing; Martha Bejar, CVP, Communications Sector; and Joe Matz, VP, Worldwide Licensing Practice.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.