CRN 2018 Women of the Channel Details

Heather Collins

Director, Partner Sales, Cisco

Location: Boston, MA


Number of years in current position: 2

Number of years involved with indirect sales: 7

Twitter Handle: @_Heath_Collins

Fun Facts:

Has a mentor
Is a mentor
Has climbed a mountain
Can ride a horse
Has studied abroad

Biography and Background:
Heather is a strategic thinker and problem solver. Known for her collaborative, driven leadership style, she is a strategic alliance builder, able to work cross organizationally to create change. Heather started her career in finance at EDS, prior to transitioning to Federal sales at companies including Cabletron and Dell. She spent 7 years working internationally in Europe and the Middle East, supporting US Government customers. A believer that life is a journey, she made a mid-career transition into non-profit work, serving as President and Executive Director of a non-profit focused on economic development and legislative advocacy in Maine. While there, she was appointed by the Governor to the board of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, and frequently testified at the State House on legislative advocacy initiatives focused around economic development. She returned to the IT industry in 2009, and has held both direct sales and channel roles of increasing responsibility since then. She currently leads all Partner Defense sales for Cisco. Heather graduated summa cum laude from Boston University with a degree in finance. She lives in Boston and Maine with her husband John and their Jack Russell Terrier, Switch. She enjoys hiking, biking, cross country skiing, sailing, and running.

How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
_ Cisco is transitioning more and more of our business to a recurring revenue model. As we make this transition, it's important that our partners also make this transition with us - so this is a big focus for me and my team. That means helping partners develop recurring revenue practices, particularly in software. A nice alignment for this is our customer's desire to move to cloud based offerings. As Cisco builds out our cloud based software offerings, and specifically regulated cloud based offers for the Federal market, we've spent a lot of time this year educating our partners on these offers and then also working with them on differentiated value added services, which creates additional profitability for them. We are also focusing on working with partners on creating software adoption practices for these offers. If users don't adopt all of a software products capabilities, they are not realizing the full value of the offer, and are less likely to renew the subscription in the future. Working with our partners on creating profitable software adoption practices has been key.

What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
Making sure that all of our partners are selling security holistically, as a wrapper around everything that they offer. Customers aren't interested in buying security point products any longer - they want solutions that include security integrated into them. This is particularly important as we continue to evolve our IoT solutions. We'll also be working to expand our partner ecosystem as we move more into IoT solutions. Multiple partners, both traditional partners and new partners, will be involved in each opportunity, and we need to create this solution alignment in our ecosystem.

What honors, awards, or commendations have you won over the past year?
I was recognized as the co-lead for the Boston chapter of Cisco's Women of Impact for 2017, as well as was recognized by CRN as recipient of the Women in the Channel award. I also recently got involved with the Lukemia and Lymphoma society Connect for a Cure campaign, and will be working to involve partners in Cisco's efforts to raise money for this terrific cause.

Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
Kikkan Randall. She was part of a two woman team who won the first US womens gold medal in Nordic skiing ever in PyeongChang. She is 35 and the only mother in the Olympics. She's been to the Olympics 5 times. She's a great example of how you can balance your life and your career - she timed her childbirth between two Olympics, and a non World Cup year. She's an example of how hard work pays off. And, as a Nordic skier myself, I appreciate the incredible athletisism required to win in that sport.

What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Travel more and experience different ways of living. I was actually pretty adventurous when I was 16, and applied for a rotary scholarship and spent my senior year in high school in Istanbul, Turkey. It was an amazing experience, but I was in such a rush to get back and go to college. I would tell myself to take some unstructured time to continue traveling, learn and see more cultures and ways of living. I think understanding and being open to different cultures, perspectives, and ways of living is critical - more so today than ever.

If you could master any new job-related skill, what would it be and why?
I'd like to be fluent in a Pacific Rim language, which I consider a job related skill in today's multi cultural environment. In order to most effectively work overseas, you need to be fluent in your host countries language. In a company like Cisco, you can work anywhere in the world. That part of the world is growing, innovating, and changing. Culturally, its fascinating. I'd love to combine my love of cultural exploration with my love of my job in the Pacific Rim for a time.

What's the best book you read this past year and why did you like it?
10% Happier. While it's a well written, amusing book about one man's journey, the book is ultimately about meditation and the value of meditation in ones life. I was skeptical, but I read it and as a result started meditating, which I absolutely love, and try to do every day. For me, it's proved a powerful tool that allows me to be a better person, in both my personal and professional lives. The book speaks a lot about the mind and the power of the mind. I recommend the book for everyone.

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