It’s an interesting discussion between Insentra’s CEO, Ronnie Altit, and two senior individuals at Citrix, Craig Stillwell and Pankaj Naraya. Find out about what’s new at Citrix and some teasers about the Citrix Summit, down to the craziest food these guys have eaten.
TIMELINE / KEY POINTS:
[05:51] Sometimes change is difficult. I think once the change is absorbed, you’re going to find that it’s much simpler.
[06:33] Pankaj explains what partnering means to him and the best way to partner.
[08:41] Craig talks about one of the big changes in Citrix and what the Summit means to Citrix.
[11:43] Craig talks about the craziest food he’s ever eaten.
[12:26] Pankaj reveals the craziest food he has eaten in Asia.
READ THE TRANSCRIPT
Ronnie Altit: Here I am today, joined by Craig Stillwell and Pankaj Naraya, two senior individuals at Citrix. I’m going to let them introduce themselves because today what we’re going to talk about is Citrix Summit 2018. Just a little bit of a teaser to see what actually is going to be announced there. I don’t know if I’m going to get too much out of these guys, but let’s see how we go. Gentlemen, Craig, Pankaj, welcome aboard.
Craig Stillwell: Thanks for having us.
Ronnie: It’s great to have you here. First time in Sydney for you?
Craig: First time, yes.
Ronnie: Initial thoughts, what do you think?
Craig: It’s amazing.
Ronnie: You had to say that.
Craig: Absolutely amazing. I’m sorry I’m not spending more time.
Ronnie: I’m sorry you’re not spending more time too. We would have got you out in the water, we would have done all sorts of stuff.
Craig: Nex time.
Ronnie: Pankaj, you’ve actually lived here.
Pankaj Naraya: Right, every now and then.
Ronnie: We’re blessed enough to have you here often.
Pankaj: It’s a great place to be.
Ronnie: Excellent, so you run worldwide partner sales?
Craig: That’s right, I run worldwide partner sales at Citrix. Been at Citrix for almost eighteen years.
Ronnie: That’s almost since the beginning, is it not?
Craig: It’s like I was born here, came with the building.
Ronnie: [laughs] You came in your own little WinFrame?
Craig: I did.
Craig: Actually, it was Metraframe. I’ve been in this role for a year now.
Ronnie: A year?
Ronnie: Okay, and before that, you were running sales in the US?
Craig: Yes, US commercial sales.
Ronnie: Where did you start at Citrix? How did that path happen?
Craig: I actually started, I came through an acquisition. Citrix bought a consulting company to jumpstart Citrix consulting services. For a short period of time, I was actually out in the field turning wrenches.
Ronnie: Okay, so you were on the tools?
Ronnie: You’re the guy who started there and ended up here.
Craig: Apparently, yes.
Ronnie: Well done.
Craig: Thank you.
Ronnie: Tell us a little bit about you, your role.
Pankaj: I represent what Craig does worldwide. I represent that in Asia Pac. I’m the APJ channel chief, I guess, in a way. I’ve been here for a year and a month.
Ronnie: Before here?
Pankaj: Before here, I was at F5 for two years, and then Cisco for six, and in the region for about thirteen, fourteen years, but doing channels for maybe fifteen or twenty years.
Ronnie: Okay, so lots of channel experience here. I’m hearing a load of channel experience, which is a perfect way to start talking about Summit which is Citrix’s annual event for your channel partners. You’re going to be on stages here, and I think there’s some big changes coming from your end, right?
Craig: Quite a few. Last year at Summit, we announced, we were on the throes of really starting this project to redesign from a blank sheet of paper a partner Insentra program. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally happening. On January 8th, you’ll hear all about it there.
Ronnie: Okay, so you said, “A blank sheet of paper.” When was the last time that the Citrix channel program had a blank piece of paper?
Craig: The first real program that we had was Advisor Rewards, which we still have right now. It was rolled out in 2004. Truly been, since then, we’ve just built program after program on top of each other which introduced just a ton of complexity and made it a little bit difficult for your business. That’s why we did the redesign.
Ronnie: Okay, because you wanted to make it easier for you to do business?
Craig: You bet. We just wanted it to be simpler-
Ronnie: -to do business with you.
Craig: That’s right, just easier to do business with us. I wanted to make it simpler. The other goal is just to have a program that has Cloud in mind. As we built these programs up, basically, since 2004, we have Citrix Cloud back then. We wanted to make sure that we had some tools in place to be able to provide incentives that line up with our goals.
Ronnie: I’m going to try here, guys. Let’s see how I go. Tell us some of the things you might be announcing at Summit?
Pankaj: Nice try.
Ronnie: I got to try.
Craig: Good try.
Ronnie: It wasn’t subtle though, was it?
Ronnie: Maybe I should have tried a little subtle approach. There’s got to be some teasers you can share with us.
Craig: Obviously, you’ll get all the good details there, so show up at Summit. Some of the things that you’ll see, we’re going to be heavily aligned with where we’re going, which is Citrix Cloud. What you’re going to see is a much simpler program with just a couple of components. You’ll see that we’re paying for the Cloud. When you get to Summit, you’ll get all the good details.
Ronnie: What a surprise, it’s all going to be around the Cloud. We haven’t heard that word much in likely happening. Shocking.
Pankaj: Especially in Australia.
Ronnie: Never, and you’re going to bring this program into the region.
Pankaj: Into Asia. I’m excited. I’ve spoken with a few partners about the general construct. I think, to Craig’s point, we haven’t had a change. I think change is good because it shows that we are listening to partners, we’re innovating, even on the program’s side, just like we do on the products. Especially in this market in Australia, Cloud is like the construct for the future. I think this will be really good for partners as a way to maximize their profitability on Citrix. I’m looking forward to taking it to market.
Ronnie: You think the program’s going to be– Is the program the same, globally? Is it going to have regional nuances?
Craig: We built this program in a really interesting way. We built a ton of flexibility into the program itself so that we can, in the future, account for regional changes, or any promotions. Or if there’s a certain product that we want to highlight, or certain behavior that we want to highlight, we can do that. Day one, it will be pretty much the same worldwide.
Ronnie: I think that’s really fascinating as well because you’ve been in the role for a year. You went in, you obviously knew all about what was happening in the channel because you were there as the head of sales.
Pankaj: He used to run channels in the US, a long time ago.
Ronnie: He’s run channels in the US as well?
Pankaj: Yes, and he has the experience.
Ronnie: You’re used to having all of the partners, at you in your ear, telling you this is it. Now, what you’ve done is probably you want to go big things is, “Well, I’ll now change the program. I’ve listened to as many of you as I can.” There’s going to be people that aren’t going to be happy, that’s just the nature of the way things work. Obviously, if you’re going to release a new program, it’s going to be something that the partners are going to enjoy.
Craig: You bet. Like you said, we started this thing in 2004, so thirteen, fourteen years ago where we’re having some change. Sometimes change is difficult. I think once the change is absorbed, you’re going to find that it’s much simpler, it’s easier to operate, and if you come with us to the Cloud, you can make a lot more money.
Ronnie: Okay, so it’s simpler, easy to operate and move to the Cloud.
Pankaj: And more money.
Ronnie: More money. I think the more money, I don’t think needed to reiterate to people. I think people tune in to the, “More money.”
Ronnie: Which is great. It’s actually a really interesting thing to talk about when we talk about partnering. A lot of people talk about partnering so far as well. You’re going to make more money, so you should want to part with us. Being our partner, you’ll make more money. You see here when we call ourselves partner-obsessed at Insentra. Tell me what partnering means? I’m going to ask you, Pankaj. Tell me what partnering means to you.
Pankaj: I’ve been in the partnerworld for a while. I find that the best way to partner is to understand what the partner wants versus what you want, and to then have that healthy dialogue of– It has to be relations based on mutual trust and understanding what it is that tickles you, and making sure that you on other side understand what tickles me.
Ronnie: Now I know why you brought feathers to our last meeting. All right, I’m with it now.
Pankaj: [laughs] For me, that’s what partnership is. It’s to have an open, constructive, challenging dialogue because that’s how you build the basis of a strong partnership.
Ronnie: Yes, and I think trust is, obviously, always at the core. When you’re looking at partnering in a global level, IPHI is one degree of macro, and then you get to global. You’ve got cultures, you’ve got languages, you’ve got multiple different people who transact in multiple different ways. How do you actually start that and go, “Here’s a new partner.”
Craig: It’s not easy to do something simple. Simple doesn’t mean easy. We got a lot of outside help. We went to our partners globally and found out what do you like, what don’t you like, what drives you nuts. We did blind interviews where they didn’t know we were talking about Citrix, what do you like about these programs, what don’t you like about those? Who do you admire, who don’t you?
We brought in some third party help to help us through the project. We really vetted this thing out with a lot of people across the globe. Really brought everything together and made sure that it lined up with what we were trying to drive, then we brought the first iteration out in front of a lot of partners. Got more feedback as you can imagine, turned some dials, and I think we landed in a really good place.
Ronnie: That’s fantastic. We’re really itching to hear how the channel reacts. I think we’ve all had a few little teaser bits here and there. As you said, to those that you’ve spoken to are excited, so exciting times coming there. Tell me about at the event, let’s see how much of this you’re going to share, what are some of these?
Obviously, Cloud is a big push for Citrix at the moment. If you look at the overall Citrix story, and Citrix has been known for having great events, partner events where they announce new things. Partners love it, and the demos that get done, et cetera. What do you think we might be seeing this year?
Craig: One of the big change is we have a new sales leader at Citrix, Mark Ferrero, who came with us from SAP. Summit is not just a partner event, it’s our sales kickoff. The partners are a huge part of our sales team. I don’t know if you know this, but 93% of all of our product transactions go through our partners at Citrix. We’re doing a sales kickoff for their entire sales team which includes partners. It’s going to feel more like a sales kickoff as opposed to a product launch kind of event.
We’re going to lay out our priorities for the year from a sales perspective, which are the same, hopefully, for our partners as they are for us. We’re going to line out some detailed plans. We’ll obviously go over the Insentra program, but we’re still working on all of that. I don’t want to give anything away before we get there.
Ronnie: Let me understand then, all of your sellers will be there?
Craig: Yes, worldwide.
Ronnie: And all of your partners?
Ronnie: Is that normal for Citrix Summit or is that something new this year?
Craig: That’s normal.
Ronnie: I didn’t realize that was the case.
Craig: For many years, we did Summit and Synergy at the same time, or iForum in Summit. We split them up. Summit used to be a partner only event, probably for the last four years, five years.
Pankaj: It is unusual. I mean, I attended it this year for the first time. I think it’s a really powerful way to make sure– We realized, on both sides, that we’re part of the same team. I haven’t seen this done at other vendors of this size. I mean, the smaller, you’d probably do it, the bigger, you don’t do it.
Ronnie: I’ve seen some of the bigger vendors invite key partners.
Craig: Of course.
Ronnie: But I’ve not seen a big vendor with all of their partners.
Pankaj: I think it’s half and half.
Craig: Our last year was half Citrix half partners at the event.
Ronnie: Which is brilliant because everybody’s hearing the same message. I think when we talk about the channel, generally, you’ve both experienced this, no doubt, there’s often a disconnect between the sellers in the vendor, and the channel team, and the channel. [00:10:33] By doing what you’re doing and having the same message go to everybody consistently-
Craig: At the same time.
Ronnie: -at the same time, there is no room to move. To me, that’s partnering. I think that that’s wonderful.
Pankaj: That’s actually a great testament. When I saw and I see it for the first time, I was like, “Wow, okay.” That’s a great way to make sure that everybody is in it together.
Ronnie: Absolutely. Everybody knows that those events, while the content is often great, those events are all about the networking.
Pankaj: It’s the relationship.
Ronnie: You’ve got your sellers talking to the channel. That’s what you want them doing because most of the time they’re out talking to the end user. Now, you’re actually bridging the gap in those few days over there. Quite a wonderful outcome. There’s something I didn’t know, and I’m sure that a bunch of people who are watching this didn’t know. That’s excellent.
All right, guys, I’m always checking on with your evenings because your first day in Sydney, we got to get you out and have a dinner somewhere lovely, and look at the view and watch the lights. The lights come on as the sun sets. Let me just ask you both an interesting question while we’re talking about dinner. Tell me the craziest food, and I’m going to start with Craig because he’s not spent that much time in Asia.
With the amount of time you spend in Asia, you probably need to process through fifty-five different types of crazy food. Let us know, Craig, what’s the craziest food you’ve ever eaten?
Craig: The craziest food I’ve ever eaten was in South Africa. I don’t know if this is actually what I ate, but it was one of those Brazilian steakhouses where they got the candles burning and sauce stuff up on your plate. On the menu was giraffe. There’s a guy, a super happy guy comes up and British guy that was with me, he says, “Hey, what part of the giraffe are we eating?” He goes, “Must be the neck.” [laughter] I don’t know if it was actually giraffe, but it was very–
Ronnie: There you go, so giraffe. Beautiful, I haven’t had a giraffe.
Craig: I don’t know if I have either, but that’s what the menu said. [laughs]
Ronnie: Brilliant. Tell me, Pankaj, have you?
Pankaj: I was trying to think which one, there’s just so many. I think I’ll go with Vietnam.
Ronnie: What did you eat in Vietnam?
Pankaj: Something slithery.
Ronnie: Okay, tell us more.
Pankaj: A snake.
Ronnie: A snake?
Pankaj: Well, a part of the snake.
Ronnie: A part of the snake?
Pankaj: Yes, a part of the snake.
Ronnie: Would you want to tell us which part of the snake?
Pankaj: I don’t know, some part of the snake. I found it after the fact, and that was not a very pleasant– but it tastes like chicken.
Ronnie: Here’s the interesting thing. Isn’t that funny? Everybody who ate something that’s a bit whacked out, whether that’s cockroaches, or crickets, or snake, it all taste like chicken. Always taste like chicken.
Pankaj: That’s the goal, I guess.
Ronnie: It always taste like chicken. You didn’t know you were eating snake?
Pankaj: I didn’t.
Ronnie: When you ate snake you were fine.
Pankaj: I was fine.
Ronnie: Then afterwards, like you said-
Pankaj: I was told.
Ronnie: -you were like-
Pankaj: What did I just eat?
Ronnie: What did I just eat?
Ronnie: Isn’t that brilliant? That just shows how the mind affects what we do all the time. What a wonderful thing. Gentlemen, thank you very much.
Pankaj: Thanks, Ronnie.
Ronnie: Tremendous to have you over here, Craig and Pankaj. Great for you to come and join us here and to talk to everybody about what’s happening at Summit. The dates of Summit, January 8th through to? Come on, I’m testing you guys.
Craig: 8th to 9th.
Ronnie: 8th to 9th.
Pankaj: For partners, and then, additionally, we will stay back for another two days. That’s Monday, Tuesday, and then Wednesday, Thursday.
Ronnie: Fantastic, and the location this year is in Anaheim?
Craig: Anaheim, California.
Pankaj: Next to Disney World.
Ronnie: Right, next to Disney World.
Ronnie: Yes, Disneyland. You guys always put a great party on it at the end of that too.
Craig: It should be a good one.
Ronnie: Wonderful. Thank you very much, everyone. Everybody who’s watching, have a go at having a look at what’s going to come out in January. There’s going to be, obviously, some stuff that Craig just didn’t want to share with us. I’ve tried for you, I’m sorry I didn’t succeed. You’re going to have to go to Anaheim or you’re going to have to tune in on the live stream, but I think there’s a lot of exciting stuff coming from Citrix in the next calendar.
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ABOUT CRAIG STILWELL
VP – Worldwide Partner Sales – Citrix
Technology Sales & Channel executive at Citrix with a broad skill set which includes Marketing, Operations and Services. I’ve led teams of 300+ people with direct responsibility for $450M in annual bookings and have deep experience with Cloud, Consumption-based, Subscription and on-premises/perpetual sales models.
ABOUT PANKAJ NARAYA
VP APJ Partner Sales – Citrix
Seasoned technology executive with 24 years of experience in the US & Asia at F5 Networks, Cisco, NetApp, Oracle, Tandem and Booz Allen & Hamilton. Functional expertise in channels, alliances, marketing, services and business development, with track record of starting and scaling strategic initiatives. Top-tier education in computer science and business from IIT Delhi and Wharton. Singapore citizen.