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Channel Chief: Raif Mehmet, VP EMEA at Bitglass

Channel Chief: Raif Mehmet, VP EMEA at Bitglass

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A fascination with modems guided Raif Mehmet into a career in technology. The Vice President for EMEA at Bitglass speaks about his current job role and the latest trends which he sees emerging across the channel.

Describe your current job role and the parts that are somewhat challenging?

My current job role is Vice President EMEA at Bitglass. My main objective is to achieve our sales targets, stay ahead of competition and keep the team motivated. My role is two-fold. First, I oversee the EMEA teams, developing and delivering the strategy to move the business forward. Second, I manage the channel throughout the region, looking after our distribution partners across Europe and the Middle East, as well as our network of smaller – but still important – partners.

At the time of answering this question, we’re still very much in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-pandemic I would have given a very different answer as to the challenges I face!  Before COVID, companies all had their own specific challenges. Now the challenges I am facing align with both competitor and market challenges, as companies the world over assess their viability to survive the crisis. My focus now is ensuring Bitglass’ position in the market and proving our solution’s performance, productivity and return on investment to customers and prospects who are inevitably looking for the best ROI, especially in the current climate.

Can you explain how your company works with channel partners?

Bitglass is a 100% channel company. We have distribution partners in each major European country, including UK, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, the Nordics and Middle East. We have ten distributors across Europe and between 300 – 400 partners.

How do you ensure channel partners flourish in a highly competitive market?

Knowledge is key and helps cut through what is a very noisy market. In a world of hyperbole it feels awkward to say but the Bitglass solution is like nothing else on the market. It is unique.  We provide our partners with sales training for which they get official Bitglass accreditation. Currently, 30 sales engineers (SEs) in Europe are trained to Bitglass’ certification standard. We keep our channel partners updated with the latest technology, provide them with healthy margins and deliver leads generated via our own lead generation team.

What are the latest trends you see emerging across the channel?

The partner community today is looking for vendors that can prove both cost savings and improvements in security and that can enable their end-customers to migrate from an office-based environment to a secure and efficient remote workforce. The way in which many businesses will operate going forward has fundamentally changed. Many will not go back to offices at all or if they do, it will be at a significantly reduced capacity. Everything is changing, so organisations must adapt by investing in the right tools to help them be both profitable and secure.

What is your management philosophy?

Ultimately what I say, what I do and how I perform will lay the blueprint for my team. I lead by example – putting in the hours, thinking six months ahead and always looking for outcome driven solutions, encouraging others to do the same. Coaching team members, injecting positivity and a can-do attitude and practising good teamwork is also key.

When you look back at your career what has been the most memorable achievement?

The most memorable moment for me was what got me into sales. I was working for Racal Datacom in the early 90s and my sales target for the year was £100k. I unexpectedly brought in a £2 million deal. That cemented my career in sales and I have never looked back.

What made you think of a career in technology?

I never planned for a career in technology. My story is that I simply became fascinated by modems. I could not comprehend how it was possible to transfer data over analog lines. One day, early in my career, the technology behind it was explained to me by somebody and I was hooked. Whilst modems are not in use anymore, technology has continued to interest and amaze me ever since.

What do you think will be the hot technology talking point of 2020?

Secure Access Surface Edge (SASE) solutions are the future and will definitely be the talking point of 2020. Soon enough, everyone will put all applications in the cloud. Any new company today should be able to run simply by giving people laptops, using SASE applications – and be capable of working as efficiently as an established enterprise.

What are your personal interests and where do you like to spend most of your time after work?

In my spare time I enjoy keeping fit, though it’s been a bit harder now gyms are closed. I aim to walk 200 kilometres a month and like to go out on my bike. Fitness is a passion of mine and one my greatest achievements in it, is that I actually placed in a natural bodybuilding competition in 2018. I also have my pet reptiles and two teenagers to keep me busy.

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