CRN 2017 Women of the Channel Details


Biography and Background:
Maria Olson is Vice President, Global & Strategic Alliances for NetApp, and has responsibility for worldwide go-to-market with Alliance partners. Maria and her team have oversight for teaming with the company's portfolio of Alliance partners and internal teams to bring to market a variety of storage and data management solutions. Her responsibilities include creation of business strategies and plans, strategic alignment within the partner ecosystem and global execution that increases revenue. Prior to NetApp, Maria was at SAP as Sr. Director of Global Business Development and was instrumental in on-boarding PwC to become a SAP Global Service Partner, and recruited over 50 PwC countries while increasing revenue and doubling pipeline. Maria has also held senior management positions at BEA Systems (acquired by Oracle), Acta Technology (acquired by Business Objects/SAP) and Hewlett Packard. She has extensive experience in business development, alliance management, product management, procurement, and supply chain operations across a variety of lines of business - from printers, interactive TV, cable modems, telecommunications -- to storage products, enterprise software and solutions. Maria earned her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of San Diego, and an Executive MBA from Pepperdine University.

How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
I launched the FlexPod Advantage program with Cisco which was a multi-million dollar investment in technology innovation and GTM initiatives for our partners and customers, resulting in almost doubling our revenue. FlexPod is a CI product engineered by Cisco and NetApp that has generated over $7B in revenue for us and our channel. We are leading with higher value solution-led plays such as the recent launch of FlexPod 3D which is changing how the oil and gas industry can access and interpret field data. In addition, we have been recognized by the Association of Alliance Professionals for Innovative Best Alliance Practice and also with a Microsoft IMPACT Award for our Hybrid Cloud Innovation with TELUS. In addition we just received another award from Red Hat as their Solution Partner of the Year. I believe in the power of communication and how important a digital presence is in this new economy. I have invested in social media as a platform to engage, connect and inspire our partners and customers: social has become a modern communication tool that extends a voice of influence across our channel ecosystem. I have over 3,903 twitter followers, and I continue to build out my social platform.

What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
Continued growth. Our recent financial results (February 2017) demonstrate that we are growing quarter over quarter. As a channel-led company, I believe that this is a direct result of the higher-level solution sets we have developed with our partners. We are moving up the stack and launching joint sales plays with 3-4-5 way partnerships. We are also expanding these efforts into key vertical markets. In parallel, we are also creating sales initiatives that allow our field sales and channel sales to develop a tighter connection. All of these activities ultimately benefit our customers which help our channel be more successful.

What honors, awards or commendations have you won over the past year?
National Diversity Council: Maria Olson Top 50 Multicultural Leaders in Technology Award Red Hat: NA Industry Solution Partner of the Year ASAP: Alliance Excellence Award for Innovative Best Alliance Practice FlexPod: Best Converged and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Product CloudNOW Women: Maria Olson Top 10 Cloud Evangelists Microsoft IMPACT Award • Hybrid Cloud Innovation Award with TELUS and Cisco • Winning Together Award with TELUS and Cisco International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) • Finalist US Region - Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) with CDW • Finalist Global - Cloud Solution Provider with CDW CRN's 2016 WOTC + Power 100: Maria Olson

Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
Viola Davis. I was inspired by her when I heard her describe growing up in extreme poverty, being constantly bullied. Her pivotal moment came when she watched Cicely Tyson, play a young slave in the Autobiography of Jane Pittman. Viola said even though she was frightened by the obstacles that lay ahead, she realized she had to decide what she wanted in life. I was inspired by her courage and determination to chart her own path. I am passionate about finding one's true potential and bringing it to life, and Viola Davis is a shining example of what is possible.

What advice would you give to young women who want to begin careers in technology?
1. Get a sponsor - I learned early in my career about the importance of connection and networking and that you need to let others help you succeed. 2. Let people know what you want to do - it is important to speak up if there is an opportunity you are interested in. 3. Learn from every moment - The best job I ever had is one I never want to do again. I was in product management and learned what I did and didn't like. It helped me focus on my strengths and map out my career.

If you could be any movie character for one day in real life, who would you be and why?
Erin Brockovich is both a real-life woman and a character in a film. With no education to speak of, Erin took on an industrial giant, proving that they knowingly contaminated a town's drinking water with deadly toxins. As a law clerk earning low wages, she won one of the biggest class action lawsuits in US history, against a multi-billion dollar company, and became an activist hero in the process. I admire her tenacity and dedication, overcoming the many odds stacked against her.

If you could travel to a city you've never been to before, all expenses paid, where would you go and why?
I would travel to Egypt to see the ancient pyramids, particularly the Pyramid of Khufu in Giza, the largest and the last-standing Wonder of the Ancient World, and a testament to the strength of the human spirit. My mother took a trip around the world, and when she returned she said Egypt and the Pyramids were one of the most beautiful and amazing sites she had seen. Unfortunately my mother passed away, and I would like to follow in her footsteps and experience the same beauty and emotions she must have felt.


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