Top Gun 51 award winner Jennifer Colquhoun’s rise to a senior executive channel position at OpenText in many ways mirrors the attitude of company CEO, Mark Barrenechea — keep growing. OpenText has done that via a myriad of mergers and acquisitions — dozens, in fact. A couple of notable, recent ones by the Canadian company, founded in 1991, are Carbonite last December and Documentum in 2017. Documentum was part of the purchase of Dell EMC’s enterprise content division.
In her current role, since May 2018, Colquhoun is responsible for bringing in new partners from the acquired companies. That means understanding the partners, the products they sell and the markets they serve. Colquhoun has been a learning and development professional for most of her career, which includes nine years at OpenText and more than 11 years at Research in Motion.
Introduced last year, the Top Gun 51 recognizes premier leaders in the indirect IT and telecom channel. The criteria includes advocacy for the channel and commitment to partners’ business success. There’s also dedication to earning the channel’s trust. We solicited input from distributors, master agents and industry analysts to compile our Top Gun 51 for 2020. That’s because they know channel executives best.
OpenText’s Jennifer Colquhoun
Channel Futures chatted with Colquhoun to learn more about her leadership style, which clearly resonates with the many channel partners she’s responsible for helping to succeed.
Channel Futures: You spent most of your career in learning and training roles. Prior to your current role, you spent almost seven years in partner training and certification, and partner training and programs positions at OpenText. Tell us about the leap to become senior director of the global partner program.
Jennifer Colquhoun: I joined the channel organization in 2011 to focus on partner enablement. I spent a number of years providing webinars, online learning, workshops, in-person events such as our partner summit, and that type of partner enablement. These types of learnings provide opportunities to enable our partners not only on our program, systems and tools, but also from a selling perspective — sales and product enablement.
|OpenText’s Jennifer Colquhoun is part of Channel Partners/Channel Futures’ 2020 Top Gun 51. This program recognizes today’s channel executives who build and execute channel programs that drive partner, customer and supplier success. See the full list.|
Then I grew out an enable team. So that was my initial entry to the channel world. Then my role expanded. I took on more of the channel development role focusing on marketing, recruitment or the next step in supporting partner growth. This went beyond just training to include building relationships and building demand for our solutions.
Then, I moved into my current role.
CF: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities in your current role?
JC: It’s a new challenge every day. There’s never a dull moment. Because of the inquisitive nature of OpenText, whenever we bring on a new acquisition, it brings a new group of partners, new product, new markets that they’re working in. There’s the constant learning of how these new partners function. Do they fit into the OpenText mold or do we need to look at custom or new programs to support their go to market? And so on.
This has been my last two years — constant learning. No two days are the same, which make this an exciting role. That’s both a challenge and opportunity, particularly because of how the market is moving. There’s also the shift to cloud. That gives us the opportunity to evolve what we’ve built with OpenText.
CF: Describe your leadership style. As a Top Gun 51 award winner, you’re doing something right.
JC: A quality that I always like to fall back on is building a network through connections and building relationships with like-minded individuals that are involved with the channel. This is key, and this may be within different groups in my organization or external sources that are complementary.
Also, being a good listener and open to change is important. The quality of being adaptable, flexible and open to change is also key. No two acquisitions are the same; no two days are the same. So it’s important to be able to make adjustments. If not, then you’re probably not seeing the big picture.
CF: What advice do you have for up-and-coming channel professionals?
JC: My biggest piece of advice is to look at your network. Build your network and talk to others. Hear what their challenges are and what works for them. Talk to channel leaders and learn about their path to leadership roles.
Be open to learning, sharing, discussing and having open collaboration with them.