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Channel Chief: Lara Yousuf, Partner Manager at Mimecast

Channel Chief: Lara Yousuf, Partner Manager at Mimecast

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Lara Yousaf is Partner Manager at Mimecast. She tells us about her current job role developing the channel in the Middle East and explains how Mimecast works with channel partners.

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

I am currently responsible for developing the channel in the Middle East with our focus regions being UAE and KSA. Given that in this region we adopt a two-tier model, I also work closely with our distributors and key partners on creating and implementing go-to-market strategies and driving business and enablement plans that fall in line with Mimecast’s global channel programme.

As with every job, challenges arise. For the past year the main challenge we have all been facing has been the impact of COVID-19 across global economies, and more so in the Middle East, as it has forced organisations to re-evaluate their current strategies to navigate the disruption this pandemic has caused when it comes to detecting and responding to new threats.

Can you explain how your company works with channel partners?

Our partner community continue to be our extended arm in the market. The foundation of our engagement with our partners is empathy, value and continuous engagement as we jointly build deeper relationships with prospects and customers.

Mimecast developed a reseller programme that mutually rewards and positions our resellers as the leader in any client engagement. In parallel, we make sure that our partners are properly equipped with the knowledge, tools and support needed to manoeuvre the ever-evolving cyber landscape. We also have been looking at ways to strengthen the remote productivity and to scale-up the contactless customer engagements through informative and interactive partner-led customer webinars. Overall, our partners have been a tremendous support for us in the market and we make sure we constantly incentivise their efforts.

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

In my opinion, growth is not driven by a short-term imperative but rather by continuous work and efforts to achieve a long-term profitable vision. As with other organisations, our channel ecosystem will need to continue to view challenges as opportunities to make things better and to support their businesses to thrive. In markets of high competition and economic downturns, partners will require an agile shift in thinking. They need to gain a greater and deeper understanding of the cyberthreat landscape and the risks it poses through its constant evolution, as well as implement flexible go-to-market strategies that adapt to the changing environment.

What is your management philosophy?

A good manager provides clear expectations and directions, tries to give his/her employees some space to run their day-to-day activities but at the same time is ready and available to lean in, coach and provide help where and when needed. I try my best to make that my management style.

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

My sense of achievement stems from affecting positive change through my role and helping my company grow. I have been privileged to do this in my many roles. One example is when I built a channel programme from scratch and in new territories. I think my proudest and most memorable moment is not only achieving channel success during times of economic prosperity but maintaining that success during times of distress and downturn.

What made you think of a career in technology?

I arrived from Lebanon in 2006. At the time, Dubai was solidifying its position as a pioneer in innovation and a regional technology hub. I started out in Channel Services working at Sun Microsystems (later Oracle) and my career seemed to have taken that direction as I moved to other regional channel roles in other IT organisations. I found a sense of accomplishment in driving successful channel and distribution strategies and building solid channel ecosystems across the emerging markets and Gulf regions as the regions were starting to develop, and as more and more organisations started adopting the channel-centric approach.

What do you think will be the hot technology talking point of 2021?

The technology trends developed will take into consideration the people, the location, as well as resiliency and availability. Some of these top technology trends that we are starting to hear and read about are concepts like Internet of Behaviours (IoB) – which monitors behavioural elements and data that can impact the experience to influence those behaviours. It includes facial recognition, location tracking and Big Data.

Another hot technology talking point will be Total Experience, when you bring together employee experience, customer experience, multi-experience and user experience. This is will be a competitive differentiator as interactions become more mobile, virtual and dispersed, particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

In a pre-COVID-19 world, I would travel and discover new countries and cultures. I was lucky enough to spend a year in Japan before joining Mimecast. I also enjoy sketching and designing my own jewellery as well as painting on canvas. Whenever I can, I try to brush up on my Spanish speaking skills.

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