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Sorgen To Replace Roskill as Microsoft Channel Chief

Phil Sorgen will replace Jon Roskill as the corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group on Sept. 1, Microsoft announced Thursday.

Sorgen is a familiar face to North American Microsoft channel partners. His 17 years at Microsoft included stints as president of Microsoft Canada and most recently as the leader of the U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners Group (SMS&P).

"Phil's rich leadership experience in working with our customers and partners in the United States and Canada makes him an ideal fit to help our partners drive new opportunities as Microsoft transforms into a company delivering devices and high-value cloud services," said Vahé Torossian, corporate vice president of worldwide SMS&P, in a statement.

Sorgen, like Roskill, will report to Torossian and had been part of Torossian's extended leadership team for several years.

Sorgen replaces Roskill, who held the global channel chief role at Microsoft since taking over the job at the 2010 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. The change comes just a few weeks after a corporate-wide reorganization of the company by CEO Steve Ballmer, who himself last week made the surprise announcement that he would retire within 12 months.

"I'm tremendously excited about heading over and taking on this new responsibility," Sorgen said in a telephone interview with RCP Thursday. "When I think about my set of experiences -- and I've been at Microsoft about 17-and-a-half years -- every role I've ever really had at Microsoft, probably because of the nature of our business, has either had a direct responsibility for the partner or an indirect engagement with partners to accomplish our goals and objectives.

"Over those 17-and-a-half years, I became such a fan of the power of partnering, when we bring our best assets together -- their innovation with our innovation, their capabilities with our capabilities, their solutions with ours -- there isn't a greater value created [anywhere else] in the market. Having become such an advocate for that, I couldn't think of a better next assignment at Microsoft then to lead this charter globally," he said.

Sorgen declared himself committed to helping partners align with Ballmer's plan to turn Microsoft into a "devices and services" company. "In every one of [Microsoft's] transformations, our success has always been through the broad engagement with partners, and I look forward to focusing on that deeply in this new capacity," he said.

Roskill was personally popular with Microsoft partners but was in charge of overseeing several controversial transitions, especially implementing the changeover to the Microsoft Partner Network with its emphasis on supporting larger partner organizations at a time when Microsoft was de-emphasizing small-business-focused, on-premise products.

Roskill earned plaudits from partners in the last year for his long-running effort to include the direct-billing option that partners had been asking for in the Office 365 cloud suite.

Roskill often referred to the work his team undertook to align sales incentives with gold competencies as among the most important of his initiatives.

In a statement on his Channel Chief blog, Roskill referred to incentives in summing up his time in the high-profile role: "Throughout my tenure we've unveiled new programs, tools, resources and sales incentives to help partners embrace the industry's transformation to the cloud, and though we still have more work to do, I'm pleased with the progress we've made."

Microsoft did not immediately announce Roskill's next job, but he provided hints in his blog. "My plan is to return to my roots of product development and take all the great insights I gained from my time with our partners and use them to create even more partner opportunity," Roskill wrote.

About the Author

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

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