Biography and Background:
Alison Say is Director, IBM Cloud Business Partner Ecosystem which includes the IBM Cloud, Analytics and Watson portfolio. Alison is responsible for fostering technology innovation and digital transformation working with existing and next generation business partners, systems integrators, cloud service providers, ISVs and developers leveraging the IBM Cloud portfolio. She leads a diverse sales and technical team across Europe who engage with new and existing Partners to continue to transform their business on a cloud and cognitive journey, delivering high value engagements to our mutual clients. Alison has worked in Partner and Developer ecosystem, marketing, sales roles across the IBM portfolio in her 8 years at IBM. Prior to IBM, Alison worked in a Media & Communications SaaS start up driving new client acquisition and heading Global Sales. Alison also spent 8 years at CRN magazine in New York and San Francisco working with all the major Software and Hardware vendors developing and executing successful channel routes to market. Alison lives in London with her partner and five year old daughter.
How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
The IBM Partner Ecosystem teams and Global Business Partner Organisation continue to drive simplicity and consistency into our programs and processes to ensure that we strive to improve how easy it is to do business with us and accelerate Partner growth. And we never stop iterating on those improvements! But at a personal level, where I believe I have had the most impact in the past 12 months is by bringing more of a face to the Cloud Partner Ecosystem leadership role in Europe and really listening and engaging with our Partners. One of the personal values that I hold most dear is transparency and I think that the Partner Ecosystem has found it quite 'refreshing' to have a Channel leader who is very transparent about where we are succeeding and where we are not, and what we are doing about it to fix it. I am not afraid of the truth because relationships built on truth are rock solid over the long term! I am in this for the long game!
What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
As we embark on 2018, our cloud strategy remains unchanged: one platform, built to one architecture, enterprise-strong, designed for data and rich with AI. The same can be said of our 2018 European channel strategy which continues our 2017 mission: developing and growing a highly skilled Partner ecosystem focused on delivering the next generation of applications and services to address market shifts and client needs in an agile and expedient manner.
What honors, awards, or commendations have you won over the past year?
I was appointed as a mentor to the Mayor of London's International Business Program supporting start ups and scale ups focused on women in technology.
Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
It's clearly quite controversial to name a politician but my formative years were under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving British Prime Minister in the 20th century and the first woman to be appointed in Great Britain. Whether you liked her policies or not, as a young woman, it was phenomenal to have the "Iron Lady" whose uncompromising politics and leadership style showed us that a woman could lead the country through some of the most difficult economic and political times, and be re-elected three times!
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
I was pretty fearless as a 16 year old, so I would tell myself to own that feeling for the rest of my life. Own your ideas and try everything! I think as we gain professional and personal experience we have the capacity to become more cautious, the stakes get higher and we perhaps fear the risk of failure more. Be courageous, forever curious and always try to be kind.
If you could master any new job-related skill, what would it be and why?
I really wish I could code. I wish I had been taught this in school. When my then 4 year old daughter got accepted at her new school, we went to parents evening and my partner and I rather embarassingly high-fived each other when we found out in early foundation years they taught the kids to code. I would love to be able to see what I could create, not from a step-by-step guide but intuitively and creatively to see my ideas come to life. The opportunities are endless.
What's the best book you read this past year and why did you like it?
Plan B I am a Sheryl Sandberg fan! I am a big believer in bringing your true and personal self to work and being comfortable to show vulnerability. That is no small feat at a large corporation like Facebook or IBM. Not only did I appreciate her raw honesty about what she went through, but also how she was not afraid to share that at work. As women I think we fear being seen to be vulnerable. Does that make us the weak in a professional environment? Not at all. You can be vulnerable and bad ass super successful!
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