‘Our partners come first and are the key to our success’

Andrea Carter- Regional Director, Marketing NEMEA, Sophos
Andrea Carter- Regional Director, Marketing NEMEA, Sophos

Andrea Carter- Regional Director, Marketing NEMEA, Sophos, spoke to Anita Joseph about channel partnerships, the role of women in enhancing these partnerships, women in the field of cyber security, and Sophos’s unique Cloud Security Provider (CSP) program.

Last year, CRN named 10 women from the Sophos Channel and marketing teams to its prestigious Women of the Channel List. How has the presence of women enhanced Sophos’ global channel strength and commitment?
Historically there has been a shortage of women in the channel, certainly when it comes to senior positions.  So the first impact of more women within the channel has been simply to balance things out.  This issue of balance is an important one. We have a long-standing commitment to inspire more young women into a career in technology through our Sophos Women in Tech programme, and we believe it is important that this includes not only the technical and production aspects within Sophos, but also the commercial, sharp end of the channel.

What has been the driving force behind your channel strategy? How do you ensure the best of talent and knowledge when you select channel partners?
As a 100% channel focused sales-based business, our channel strategy is simple – to enable our partners to grow their business by providing solutions that are easy to implement, easy to sell, and easy to manage. We back this up with unparalleled customer support, aggressive margins, joint lead generation programs, and first class training and certification programs. In terms of ensuring skills and knowledge, we provide all the training and information that partners need to be able to sell and deliver Sophos solutions. And we back this up with a technical support team available 24/7/365.

Are more women entering the cybersecurity field today? How do you evaluate this trend?
There has been an undoubted increase of women entering the cybersecurity field.  Initiatives such as TechSheCan, Ada Lovelace Day and our own Girls in Computing programme and Sophos Women in Tech network have led to us seeing a notable increase in women throughout the organisation. About 15% of our engineers are female – five times the industry average. We are not resting on our laurels, but there has been definite progress.  We don’t just evaluate this numerically, but also by the seniority of the positions held by women throughout the business.  At the time of writing, this includes our VP of global channels, one of our most senior testing staff and two non-executive directors.

What are some of the most important aspects you look for when you select your channel partners?
We are looking for commitment. Our 100% channel-focused sales model means that our partners come first and are key to our success. We are fully committed to helping our partners increase their profits and customer loyalty. Unsurprisingly, we are looking for a similar level of commitment from partners of any level. Part of that commitment is of course reflected financially, but we are also looking for a hunger to develop the business in other ways, usually seen through a desire to complete training and accreditations at the highest level.

Can you tell us something about your Cloud Security Provider (CSP) Program? What has been the role of women in accelerating this program?
The Sophos Cloud Security Provider (CSP) Program offers partners the ability to accelerate sales while earning rebates, sharing leads, and gaining access to an enhanced level of support. The CSP Program allows Sophos partners to support a customer’s desire to pay as you go (PAYG) from either the AWS or Microsoft Azure marketplaces or bring a standard software license (BYOL) for use in these public cloud environments.  Public Cloud platforms such as AWS or Azure allow customers to experiment with and evaluate products without necessarily committing to a large purchase. Marketplace purchases offer the speed and convenience of being able to get software applications up and running without jumping through the hurdles of a sales cycle or dealing with sales people. The challenge for vendors is that marketplaces can leave partners out of the loop –but with the Sophos CSP Program, that’s no longer an issue.