Bekker's Blog

Blog archive

Year of Milestones for Current and Former Microsoft Channel Execs

As 2018 draws to a close, it's been a year of milestones for a lot of the Microsoft channel executives who have appeared in the pages of Redmond Channel Partner magazine or in the browser on since 2005.

Margo Day Retires
Margo Day was an early supporter of RCP, contributing a "Microsoft View" column for our inaugural July 2005 issue and regularly making herself available for interviews in her then-role as vice president of the U.S. Partner Group at Microsoft. She stopped writing the column in the summer of 2006 when a Microsoft reorganization shifted her to vice president of the U.S. West Region for Microsoft's Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners unit.

After five years in that role, Day took a year leave to raise funds and awareness for the Kenya Child Protection Through Education Project of an organization called World Vision, and then returned to Microsoft in 2012 as vice president for U.S. Education.

On Sept. 28, Day retired from Microsoft with plans to dedicate herself fully to the Kenya project. To that point, she had visited Kenya 11 times, focusing on the West Pokot area, and on working through education to change community attitudes toward child brides and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGMC/C).

As befits a Microsoft executive, Day's hope is to scale the project to many more areas of the country.

"World Vision has a dream to build on the success of the program in West Pokot and take it to other FGM/C and child marriage hot spots in Kenya where they work to ultimately end these retrogressive practices so that every child, girl and boy, can live life in all its fullness. I want to lean in to help them do just that. It's why I retired," Day wrote in a blog post.

Jenni Flinders Becomes VMware Channel Chief
Another longtime Microsoft channel executive, Jenni Flinders, took on the top channel job at VMware Inc. in April.

Flinders, who spoke regularly with RCP and contributed several times to the start-of-year Marching Orders features, left Microsoft in 2015 after a career that included general manager roles within the Worldwide Partner Group and a lengthy term as vice president of the U.S. Partner Group. Between Microsoft and VMware, Flinders advised clients on channel strategy as CEO of the Daarlandt Partners consulting practice.

Flinders' official title is vice president of Worldwide Channels at VMware. Unofficially, she's worldwide channel chief.

Gavriella Schuster Takes a Board Seat
Microsoft's worldwide channel chief, Gavriella Schuster, added a strategic board seat to her duties in 2018. Schuster's official title at Microsoft is corporate vice president, One Commercial Partner at Microsoft, which is the top channel role at the company.

In October, Chinasoft International Ltd. announced that Schuster was joining the company's board of directors. The appointment is a signal of the strategic importance to Microsoft of Chinasoft, which bills itself as one of the largest IT services firms in China. Microsoft is the second-largest institutional owner of the 18-year-old company, and the seat makes Schuster Redmond's key ambassador to Chinasoft.

In a statement, Chinasoft CEO Dr. Yuhong Chen said, "We are quickly expanding our Microsoft business, especially around digital workplace and the cloud, and her deep knowledge of the Microsoft ecosystem and her relationships will be invaluable as we expand our presence around the world."

Chinasoft positioned Schuster's seat on the board as bolstering its recent expansion into Latin America, India and Malaysia. Catapult Systems is Chinasoft's U.S. subsidiary.

Eric Martorano Becomes a CEO
Eric Martorano was a high-profile executive for Microsoft from 2008 to 2016, when he was a general manager for U.S. Partner Sales with responsibility for $17 billion in revenues. He left Microsoft to become chief revenue officer at Intermedia, a position that kept him in view of Microsoft partners, many of whom are also Intermedia partners.

In late October, Martorano was named CEO and a board member of Accordo Group. The New Zealand-based company provides software and services that leverage business analytics and data science to help SMB customers optimize their software utilization and productivity.

Vince Menzione Moves to Blackbaud
For the last two years, former Microsoft channel executive Vince Menzione has hosted an informative podcast that's been a gem for Microsoft partners. Menzione, one of those indefatigable mentoring types, drew on a well-earned reservoir of goodwill among current senior Microsoft channel executives and many partners to land great interviews for his podcast. The Microsoft execs were willing to talk publicly on Menzione's "Ultimate Guide to Partnering" about a lot of things that they normally kept under wraps.

In September, Menzione -- who, like Martorano, was also a general manager in the Microsoft channel from 2008 to 2016 -- took on a full-time role with Blackbaud as vice president of Global Strategic Alliances. Based in South Carolina, Blackbaud provides cloud software and services for what it calls the "social good community" -- nonprofits, foundations, education institutions, health care institutions and the like.

Ron Huddleston (1973-2018)
As regular readers of RCP are aware, sadly no recap of the milestones of once and former Microsoft channel execs would be complete without mentioning the death of Ron Huddleston. The former Oracle, Salesforce and Microsoft executive died Sept. 28 at age 45.

His brief, but high-profile, tenure at Microsoft spanned from mid-2016 through December 2017, and included about 11 months as corporate vice president of the newly formed One Commercial Partner organization.

Huddleston joined Twilio in February of this year as chief partners officer, and oversaw the creation of a new partner program for the fast-growing cloud communications platform company in June.

Posted by Scott Bekker on December 14, 2018


  • Image of a futuristic maze

    The 2024 Microsoft Product Roadmap

    Everything Microsoft partners and IT pros need to know about major Microsoft product milestones this year.

  • SharePoint Embedded Becomes Generally Available

    After a six-month preview, SharePoint Embedded, an API-based version of SharePoint that developers and ISVs can use to embed Microsoft 365 capabilities into their apps, is now generally available.

  • Copilot in Microsoft 365 Getting Agents, Extensions and Team (Not Teams) Support

    Microsoft is adding more functionality to its Copilot AI assistant aimed at improving business collaboration, processes and workflows for Microsoft 365 users.

  • Microsoft Giving Startups Templates To Build AI Apps

    A new perk for businesses enrolled in the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub program aims to fast-track their ability to build AI-powered applications.