Technology which focuses on Business Continuity will be crucial as the world adapts to the new normal. Maya Zakhour, Channel Director – MEA, Italy & Spain, NetApp, speaks about her new expanded job role and the importance of Business Continuity during the pandemic.
Describe your current job role and the parts that are somewhat challenging?
I have recently taken on an expanded role as Channel Director for NetApp in the Middle East and Africa, Italy and Spain. In this new role, I work closely with in-country channel leaders, distributors and alliances to build a stronger partner ecosystem, increase NetApp’s footprint and grow the business across my new territories. In the current economic climate, getting the channel community back on track in the hardest hit countries like Italy and Spain is a challenge that I will be working hard to address, along with my team.
Can you explain how your company works with channel partners?
As an organisation that partners closely with the channel, we are committed to enabling our channel community with the necessary tools to help grow the business. Our recently enhanced, industry-leading Unified Partner Programme aligns with our partners’ business capabilities and models and will be simplified and expanded to deliver a consistent programme experience, enable Digital Transformation for customers, accelerate partner profitability and provide partners with a predictable business environment.
While COVID-19 has presented some significant challenges to the supply chain, NetApp has proactively helped partners deliver solutions to customers. We have a strong financial programme to help partners to not only cope with delay in payments but also provide them with stability and maintain profitability. The most important part of NetApp’s channel strategy is our commitment to ensure partner profitability, ease of doing business and fostering the best relationships by investing in growth through a programme that is simple, compelling and rewards partners for expanding into existing customers and into new growth opportunities. In these difficult times, we are enabling partners to build a NetApp-focused services practice, to expand margin opportunity and offer the best return on their partnership.
How do you ensure channel partners flourish in a highly competitive market?
A key part of my role is to encourage partners to secure their installed base, engage our strategy partners to leverage NetApp’s converged offerings and drive cloud adoption to adapt to a remote-working model to ensure Business Continuity. NetApp has moved beyond being known only as a storage vendor to establishing ourselves as the leader in cloud data services. Our partners have access to NetApp’s industry-leading solutions portfolio and have ample prospects for growth if they recognise it. With TCO and ROI becoming the key terms for investments, the channel has huge opportunity to capitalise on the data consumption model through our hyperscale partners. As customers change their approval processes, it is important partners adapt their strategies in order to maintain profitability and sustainability. I would also encourage partners to think about the opportunities with AI especially as the technology is playing a big role in the healthcare sector.
What are the latest trends you see emerging across the channel?
AI is turning out to be the most attractive prospect for the channel today, especially in the UAE. However, as COVID-19 has somewhat rewritten IT investment trends, we are seeing the channel largely focused on helping customers with Business Continuity solutions. I see this trend continuing into the next year. Partners have been taking advantage of their access to our cloud and VDI solutions, and helping businesses make the right choices. The increase in cloud adoption and the consumption model hold lucrative prospects for the channel now. We are pleased that NetApp is playing an important role in helping partners be future-ready.
What is your management philosophy?
I believe in leading by example; giving enough room for my team to play out their expected roles while also making them feel that they are part of building and executing a strategy. It ensures that the team is strong enough to deliver on time and exactly what is being expected from them. I believe that leadership is showing your team mates the path to success and placing trust and confidence in their abilities.
When you look back at your career what has been the most memorable achievement?
I believe the relationships I’ve built during my career in the industry is among my most remarkable achievements.
What made you think of a career in technology?
I loved maths as child, and that’s what prompted me to take up computer engineering as my major in college. I also developed a strong preference for practising logical thinking– a key feature that gave me the motivation of changing the world through IT. I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Notre Dame University in Lebanon. After university, there were a lot of opportunities in the IT field, and I knew that the competition back then was fierce. But I confidently stepped outside of my comfort zone and landed working on projects that had direct business impact. Over the years, I have chosen roles that are strategically important to the business. I have learned to be clear about how my work will fit into the company’s goals. I am also lucky to have worked with mentors who were able to guide me in understanding the bigger picture.
What do you think will be the hot technology talking point of 2020?
Considering the global business scenario today, I strongly believe that technologies that enable Business Continuity will be crucial. As businesses have started to adapt to the ‘new normal’, while the impact of the pandemic will remain for the foreseeable future, we believe businesses will get back on their feet. However, businesses will now look wisely at investing in the right technologies that will ensure Business Continuity in the event of future disruptions. The cloud is one of the major technologies that businesses are turning to; whether it is a private or public cloud, on-premises, hybrid or a hyperscale partnership. At NetApp, our aim is to change the world with data, and we have a strong solutions portfolio and a robust strategy that helps us future-proof our product development. Our partners have access to our Data Fabric to help customers accelerate their Digital Transformation strategy.
What are your personal interests and where do you like to spend most of your time after work?
I spend most of my personal time with family. I also strongly believe in giving back to the community and society. I am actively involved in charity work, especially across initiative that help the underprivileged. As much as I would like to talk about it, I feel that charity work should be seen more than talked about.