CRN 2018 Women of the Channel Details

Kirsten Craft

Global Head of Business Development & Marketing, Prolifics

Location: Lexington, KY


Number of years in current position: 4

Number of years involved with indirect sales: 17

Twitter Handle: @Kirstencraft

Fun Facts:

Can code
Sits on a company board
Has worked for a solution provider organization
Has a mentor
Is a mentor
Has climbed a mountain
Can ride a horse
Has always wanted to be a teacher

Biography and Background:
With a passion for helping others, Kirsten is always looking for ways to make things better. That passion extends to her co-workers, her company, and the many external partners she engages with regularly. With a broad background in development, project management, financial systems, sales, and leadership, Kirsten is a problem solver with the ability to see the big picture and work collaboratively to get things done. Today, Kirsten's responsibilities as an executive at Prolifics include leadership of the Software resell team and Marketing. She partners with Prolifics sales leadership to drive software sales and works very closely with executives at major manufacturers such as IBM, providing feedback on channel programs. Kirsten's early roles in technology were spent with small ISVs and internal IT for Pier 1 Imports. Her channel experience started with Software Information Systems in 2000, where she joined as a Project Manager and left as an Executive Vice President of their Software and Consulting practice 13 years later, when she joined Prolifics.

How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
I lead a very talented team of professionals. The most important thing that I do to drive our channel business is to allow that team to be creative, remove roadblocks for them, look for ways to drive efficiency in how they operate, and ensure that something is learned out of every experience that doesn't go as planned. This year, I've also implemented a more disciplined approach to managing sales opportunities across my team, leveraging project management techniques to help improve our win rates. In alignment with changing dynamics in manufacturer's focus and their channel programs, we have been on a strategic journey over the past several years to increase our resell business and decrease our dependence on influencer-style incentives. Over the past three years we have steadily adjusted our mix by growing our resell and 2017 saw especially strong results - we increased our resell business 30% over 2016, compared to a channel average of 5% (per our distributor).

What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
In 2018, Prolifics will continue our strategic plan to significantly increase our software resell business, continuing to build on the growth trajectory we saw in 2017. We plan to achieve that through aggressive initiatives to drive new customer acquisition, with a focus on increasing our "top of the funnel" programs.

What honors, awards, or commendations have you won over the past year?
In the past year, I was very honored to be named an IBM Cloud Champion. According to the IBM Champions page, the IBM Champion program "recognizes innovative thought leaders in the technical community". My designation was specific to Cloud topics and innovations. On a more personal note, I continued my 4 year term on the Washington &Lee University Alumni Board, serving as the Committee Chair for all Alumni Chapters across the US. I also continued serving as a member of the iNet Board for the University of Kentucky, which drives entrepreneurial thinking within a college setting.

Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
Ginni Rometty. As the first female CEO of IBM, her appointment was significant. But the timing of her assuming that role is even more significant. She inherited a powerhouse in need of change to remain truly relevant. Ginni has challenged IBM to innovate faster than its smaller, nimble competitors. In some cases, she has received very public criticism, and has held her ground for what she feels is right. Her ability to hold such a significant responsibility and challenge, to drive difficult change, and to show grace and confidence when under fire makes Ginni a woman I truly admire.

What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
When I was 16, life was somewhat myopic. Some of the things I felt were terribly important I now understand were not important at all. The most valuable piece of advice I could impart to my 16-year old self would be along these lines: "Life is not about high school. Life is about what comes AFTER high school."

If you could master any new job-related skill, what would it be and why?
If I could master a new job related skill, I would improve my public speaking skills in front of large audiences. I have always admired presenters at conferences who can engage audiences and speak authentically, without obviously reading a prepared speech.

What's the best book you read this past year and why did you like it?
"Head in the Cloud: Why knowing things still matters when facts are so easy to look up", by William Poundstone. An entertaining, eye-opening read, Poundstone leverages vignettes, statistics and survey responses to illustrate how having certain knowledge correlates to the attitudes and opinions one holds. Spanning a wide range of observations including political views, financial well-being, and feelings of happiness, Poundstone demonstrates how critical it is to be well informed to give decision making proper context, and how ill-informed much of America actually is. It motivated me to seek out ways to become more informed myself!

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