CRN 2018 Women of the Channel Details

Sandra Flinders

Senior Director, Global Partner Programs, Global Partner Organization, Cisco

Location: San Jose, CA


Number of years in current position: 10

Number of years involved with indirect sales: 10

Twitter Handle: @Sandra_Flinders

Fun Facts:

Has an advanced degree (a degree higher than a bachelor's degree)
Has an MBA
Has worked for a solution provider organization
Has a mentor
Is a mentor
Has climbed a mountain
Can ride a horse
Has studied abroad
Has always wanted to be a teacher

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?
Over the last year, I have focused on designing and executing a strategy to evolve Cisco's award-winning partner programs in order to capture digital market transitions. In doing so, we have focused 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 evolution of programs incorporates our approach to capabilities, design of incentive structures, and integration of software across the lifecycle. The evolution strategy has so far resulted in marked improvements via the Voice of the Partner survey - especially around our Incentive Programs. 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 addition to the program evolution, I have been heavily involved in shaping Cisco's overall strategy to support our evolution toward software by leveraging my many years of experience in software and services.

What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
1. Help partners capitalize on our latest networking innovations and shift to more software-centric IT business models that not only provide recurring revenue, but also provide profitable customer application and services revenue. 2. To unleash the value of software for customers and create additional profit engines, we're helping partners build their own customer success practices. With our assets and tools, partners are discovering how customer success leads to greater customer loyalty and profitability. 3. We are helping partners sell beyond traditional IT buyers and equipping them to bridge to new buying centers and selling solutions to drive business outcomes.

What honors, awards, or commendations have you won over the past year?
CRN Women of the Channel 2017

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 your 16-year-old self?
Never doubt you can be anything you want to be. Don't let other people or circumstances define who you can become. 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. Have patience. Anything of value can take a long time to craft. Trust yourself. Do not compare yourself to others; trust in your 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 master any new job-related skill, what would it be and why?
I'd invest in becoming more technically astute. While I understand the business drivers around a technology business, that knowledge would increase in value if I understood the technology itself better. As a company, we talk about the 'digital transformation' that the industry is going through, and how our security architecture is a driver for pulling our other architectures through to solve customer business problems. It is one thing to be able to speak knowledgably about the business impacts of that reality; it's another to have the practical application of knowing which products fit where in that strategy.

What's the best book you read this past year and why did you like it?
The Last Lecture - by Randy Pausch A professor was asked to give a lecture considering his demise, reflecting on what truly mattered. Though diagnosed with terminal cancer, Pausch spoke about the importance of overcoming obstacles, enabling the dreams of others, and seizing every moment. It was about living. I discovered the book after learning my father had terminal cancer. A great deal of introspection occurs with such news: examining what you have and have not accomplished, considering which connections and which actions matter, reevaluating how you communicate with those you value. You accept time is finite.

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