December 17, 2008, 1:04 PM — As a long-time veteran in the IT channel industry, Julie Parrish sent waves in the channel when she announced her departure from Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC). Now the vice-president of worldwide channel sales at NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP), Parrish is focusing her efforts on getting to know the company's partners to ensure their profitability now and into the future.
Before her role as the vice-president of the global channel office at Symantec, Parrish was the vice-president of the Americas field and channel marketing at Veritas, which was later acquired by Symantec in 2005.
This summer, Parrish had her work cut out when she was tasked with clarifying Symantec's investment and commitment to the channel. After news came out following a June 12 financial analyst call that Symantec may have been moving towards a one-tier distribution model, Parrish had to settle the uproar that quickly surfaced with its partner community. The call, which was hosted by Enrique Salem, COO of Symantec, and soon to be CEO of the company, caused a lot of channel unease.
Shortly after the call took place, Parrish said "the media outlets didn't talk to enough partners or come to (her) first to help put (Salem's) comments back into context."
In a July interview with Parrish, she said Symantec was not moving from a two-tier to a one-tier distribution model, adding Symantec customers have always been able to buy solutions directly from the vendor. As for whether or not the vendor was taking SMB deals direct, Parrish said this wasn't true either.
When news came out that Parrish was leaving Symantec at the end of October, many were left wondering what led to her departure. Parrish did not stay out of the IT channel for long, as she later surfaced at data and storage management solution vendor, NetApp.
"I want to make it clear that my move wasn't in wanting to get away from Symantec," Parrish said. "I had been there for six years and a lot of the work I had done was in integration work both pre and post the Veritas acquisition."
Having felt she'd accomplished a lot at Symantec and Veritas, Parrish said she decided it was time for a career change. What attracted her to NetApp, she said, was that the company provided her with an opportunity to work in a different and more focused space.
"I like the focus," she said. "I'm now walking into a situation where there are about 1,500 partners globally with about 450 in the U.S. This company has a huge growth opportunity in the market."
Only in her post for a few weeks now as the new worldwide channel chief at NetApp, Parrish says her number one priority now is to get to know and talk to partners in all of her territories around the world. She wants to ensure partners understand and know that NetApp values and wants to listen to them, she said.
"From the conversations I've had with partners so far," Parrish says, "they tell me they like the NetApp (partner) program and they're telling me not to change anything. My...priority is to understand how we can capitalize on the NAS and SAN markets today without changing the programs too much."
In light of the recent economic downturn that has left many businesses feeling uneasy, Parrish says her goal is to ensure partners stay profitable by offering them predictable, profitable programs with the right rebates, discounts, pricing and margins.