CRN 2017 Women of the Channel Details

Sandra Flinders

Senior Director, Global Partner Programs, Cisco

Location: San Jose, CA


Number of years in current position: 9

Number of years involved with indirect sales: 9

Twitter Handle: @Sandra_Flinders

Fun Facts:

Enjoys public speaking
Has an advanced degree
Has an MBA
Has worked for a solution provider organization
Has a mentor
Is a mentor
Has a personal mantra
Had a lemonade stand

Biography and Background:
As Senior Director of Programs Portfolio for Strategy, Planning, & Programs, Sandra is responsible for the partner programs and channel strategy and execution globally for Cisco. She leads a combined global program team that drives the evolution of Cisco's Architectures, Software, Managed Services, Cloud, and traditional services with a focus on partner profitability and simplifying our partner's business relationships with Cisco. Building industry leading programs and infrastructure taught Sandra important lessons about how to streamline and deliver an optimal partner experience worldwide. A sought after thought-leader in the industry, Sandra capitalizes on her more than 25 years of executive leadership experience in product and service channel strategy development, management and sales, and has a history for building and launching industry-envied partner programs. Prior to joining Cisco, she was the Director of Channel Service Sales at Avaya where she led the development and execution of their global services strategy and channel program design. While with Lucent Technologies, Sandra led their SMB Channel Sales team for products and services. Sandra has also held director-level positions with AT&T in sales, sales management and operations, and marketing.

How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
During the last year, I have focused on developing a strategy that will evolve Cisco's award-winning partner programs in order to capture digital market transitions. In doing so, we are focusing on simplifying partner programs to reduce complexity and overlap, and enhance partner profitability as we bring Cisco's services, software, and solutions to market. The channel is extremely important to Cisco and I am working every day to build initiatives that help our partners adapt to changes in portfolio, consumption models, and incentive structures. In 2016, we launched a holistic, role-based framework that helps partners capture profitable revenue streams and build competencies around Cisco's portfolio beginning with software. Several software-based offers designed to help partners monetize their software business with Cisco have been made available to partners within these roles.

What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
1. Help our partners achieve growth and profitability in the ever-changing technology landscape. 2. Develop programs, tools, training and resources that enable our partners to evolve their business so they can capture digital transformation opportunities. Focus areas include Customer-in selling, customer lifecycle/software (recurring revenue) and professional services. 3. Continue to aggressively drive our strategic priorities, including: 1) making it easier for our partners to transact with Cisco; 2) ensuring our collective go-to-market engines are aligned around the same priorities; and 3) sharing an equitable exchange of value that is commensurate with the evolving technology landscape.

What honors, awards or commendations have you won over the past year?
I was honored to be a recipient of the CRN Women in Channels and Channel Chiefs in 2016, nominated and recognized by our Global Partner Programs Senior VP, Wendy Bahr on the basis of my professional accomplishments, demonstrated expertise, and ongoing dedication to the channel.

Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
I've encountered many strong women leaders throughout my career. Both Kelly Kramer and Wendy Bahr are significant role models to me. These women take their own unique personalities and skills, and use them to maximum benefit. They will always take the time to provide counsel or coaching, making it a point to understand all aspects of the business to relate to people at all levels. Considering the huge transition our company is facing, their ability to pivot and operate with grace "under fire" and the proficiency with which they have mastered a work/life balance is something I strive to emulate.

What advice would you give to young women who want to begin careers in technology?
Find a mentor you trust explicitly to tell you when you are wrong and congratulate you when you are right, even if others are disagreeing with you. Ensure they understand your business and personal strengths and weaknesses. Have patience. A good career can take a long time to craft. Trust yourself. One of the downfalls in a career comes from people comparing themselves to others rather than trusting in their own abilities. Develop your style and personal brand. Observe and learn what works and what doesn't work from your peers and leaders; adapt those to what works for you.

If you could be any movie character for one day in real life, who would you be and why?
Professor Minerva McGonagall from Harry Potter. She is always classy and clever, frank and fearless in her opinions. Her character is sincere and sympathetic, unafraid and fights for what she knows is right, and doesn't tolerate uniformed opinions from those who underestimate her.

If you could travel to a city you've never been to before, all expenses paid, where would you go and why?
Melbourne, Australia. In recent years, I've become an avid amateur genealogist. My married name, Flinders, has multiple roots in the Melbourne area - for example, it's the home of Flinders University. I have been tracing my husband's ancestry back to Melbourne and would enjoy exploring our history there.

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