Credence Security is a distributor which brings niche vendors to the market. Philip Cherian, Regional Channel Director, Middle East, Africa & India (MEAI) at Credence Security, explains why it is essential to understand the pulse of the company’s partners and how to align with them.
Describe your current job role and the parts that are somewhat challenging?
I am the Regional Channel Director for Middle East, Africa and India (MEAI) at Credence Security, a leading regional distributor of specialised solutions in cybersecurity, forensics, governance, risk and compliance.
I look after the channel business across the region where my key responsibility is to introduce, develop and execute localised channel strategies in order to expand our partner ecosystem, upsell into existing partners and ultimately grow revenue and our profit margins.
Working with partners is a different ball game all together, with a set of unique dynamics. At Credence Security, being a distributor that brings niche vendors to the market, it is essential for us to understand the pulse of our partners and then align with them. Once we have alignment, we need to work on a robust go-to-market (GTM) plan, conduct enablement sessions, joint customer visits and regular performance reviews. We understand that every partner has more than 10 products in a portfolio, so to get them to proactively sell our solutions means we need to be extremely proactive and always provide the best support.
Can you explain how your company works with channel partners?
Credence Security is a 100% channel-driven organisation. Our goal is to be the region’s most trusted distributor when it comes to cybersecurity and GRC solutions – working closely with our vendors and partner ecosystem to deliver tailored and intuitive solutions that meet the security requirements of enterprises across the region.
To that end, we look to build very tight alignment with our partners. It’s very important for us to understand what solutions they currently have in their portfolio and where the gaps lie in terms of their ability to provide holistic security solutions to customers. As a next step, we put a plan in place for them to align on solutions, which would help them address current threat exposure their customers have and agree on a GTM strategy – this is something that we customise for each partner.
How do you ensure channel partners flourish in a highly competitive market?
It really starts with education – partners need to stay abreast of the ever-evolving threat landscape and, in parallel, must keep informed on the latest technologies and solutions available on the market, to fight these threats.
For our part, at Credence Security, partner enablement and continuous improvement are key – we have a channel programme that is designed to enable, evangelise and motivate them to sell our technologies proactively.
What are the latest trends you see emerging across the channel?
Well, given the current situation and the associated cash flow challenges, we are definitely seeing a reprioritisation of projects but I am happy to see very few projects that have been cancelled – it is just a matter of pushing them back a few months or a move towards more OPEX consumption models, like the cloud, as customers look to get more cost predictability and flexibility and a reduced barrier to entry.
What is your management philosophy?
When it comes to managing the channel, I think there are a couple of critical success factors for me. For one, I try to be a leader, rather than a ‘boss’ or a manager – a ‘my way or the highway’ approach when it comes to partners, is a real recipe for disaster. So, I always strive to build consensus and if nothing else, keep an open mind and foster open communication and (healthy) debate.
The other key for me is transparency – whether it is with the internal Credence Security team or with our partners, we are always transparent and honest with them.
When you look back at your career what has been the most memorable achievement?
The experience I have gained and the people that I have had a chance to work with over the last 16 years can be considered an achievement in and of itself. And while I have had several high points in my career, getting promoted from Regional Channel Manager to Channel Director at Credence Security at the start of 2020 is what I am most proud of.
What made you think of a career in technology?
Although I have had a passion for computers and technology from my early days, a career in IT was never part of my plan and in fact, my degree is in finance. It didn’t take me long into my first job to realise that I didn’t enjoy the world of finance all that much. Plus, I consider myself a people person – I get energy from meeting new people, giving presentations and having in-depth conversations – so sitting behind a desk wasn’t for me either. It became quickly apparent that if I was going to have a long and successful career, I’d be wise to follow my passion for technology, and sales was the obvious route in.
What are your personal interests and where do you like to spend most of your time after work?
Well, in a pre-COVID world, my after work routine included a stop at the gym. However, these days, like most, I tend to spend a large portion of my free time with the family, watching movies or series on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I really enjoy reading, particularly on technology topics, and I am also a gearhead, so love keeping up-to-date on the latest in the automotive industry and the world of off-roading.