Location: Point Pleasant, NJ
Number of years in current position: 6
Number of years involved with indirect sales: 30
Biography and Background:
With more than two decades in the high-tech, cybersecurity market, Susan Thomas has a career proven with management and executive leadership experience. Not only has she worked for global software companies such as Symantec but also Silicon Valley stat-ups including Gigaspaces and mid-size companies such as Bitdefender. As an award-winning and key contributor to the channel at Bitdefender, Susan educates and evangelizes the value of Bitdefender products, services and the overall channel program. As a clear example of her success and commitment to her craft, under Susan's leadership she has grown the channel 1,300% in less than six years. She's also recruited and onboarded strategic partners who have seen explosive growth, noting that in 2017 one of her partners achieved 131% growth YoY and another achieved 150% growth YoY. Her distributor partners are just as successful with one partner seeing more than 185% growth YoY in 2017. Without hesitation, Susan's partners know she's a dedicated channel professional who values the relationships she builds, the business savvy needed to understand the channel needs, and the creative skills required to gain traction within any partner organization.
How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
In 2017 our business through distribution grew by 120% year over year. We're 100% channel centric and recognize our partners are critical to our success today and in the future. The more we invest and support our channel, the more committed they'll be to Bitdefender. This past year it's been my mission to spend 80% of my time in front of our distribution and channel partners because those relationships are just as important as our customer relationships. People buy from people and building relationships plays an important role in our long-term success. In a competitive environment, facetime is crucial and it improves productivity and offers the opportunity to maximize results. We're making it easier for partners to do business with us and we connect with our clients better when we meet in person. The road tour initiative resulted in better on-site training sessions, more creative marketing program development, ROI and opportunity tracking discussions, sales target achievements and networking with all levels of distributor and reseller management. As another example and a positive result of this dedication, Bitdefender has won the "Vendor Excellence Award" from Lifeboat Distribution and we're thrilled that they too recognize the value of our commitment in 2017
What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
Bitdefender plans to advance at a hypergrowth rate while focusing on developing and maintaining long-standing relationships and creating a partner strategy that rewards those that invest in Bitdefender. Over the next year, we'll help our partners grow their business by providing sales tools such as quoting/pricing tools, enhanced marketing programs to drive demand and people resources to help them market their business and sell Bitdefender products. This renewed focus will help our partners to confidently lead with Bitdefender solutions and enable us and our partners to exceed our financial targets and drive share gains in the market.
What honors, awards, or commendations have you won over the past year?
Last year Susan was recognized as one of CRN's women of the channel. One of her top accomplishments with Bitdefender was to drive the consolidation of the distribution partners whilst also taking the lead in revamping the entire partner on-boarding and training process. Moreover, at the beginning of 2018, Bitdefender was awarded the "Vendor Excellence Award" by Lifeboat Distribution. It was Susan's efforts which got us this award. Her constant support towards our distributor and being there every step of the way made our partner thank her when awarding this prize.
Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
One of the women I admire the most is Oprah Winfrey. She is an inspiration to me because she embodies the ambitious, self-driven woman that I aspire to become. Her story is incredible and completely inspiring in every way. She has overcome many obstacles in her life and has managed to soar into the broadcasting world, the print media world, the motion picture world, not to mention her dedication to education of young women in Africa, her countless book clubs, and so much more. She has influenced me to work hard despite any obstacles I may endure during the process.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Take a leap of faith in yourself. You've got nothing to lose but everything to gain. If you fail, you'll become smarter, if you succeed, you'll gain even more self-confidence and the emotional and financial rewards. You'll never know the limit of how much you can achieve until you take a leap of faith in yourself and try. Keep your focus, invest in yourself. See life as a journey and you'll most certainly always achieve anything you set your mind to.
If you could master any new job-related skill, what would it be and why?
I would choose to learn a new language because it's essential. Bilingualism is a major asset in an increasingly interconnected world. Having the ability and willingness to engage with many kinds of people can go a long way in better understanding and tackling global challenges, and in truly making yourself a citizen of the world.
What's the best book you read this past year and why did you like it?
Rules of Civility was one of my favorite books. A coming of age story, about a young woman just starting her adult life in New York in the 30s. The tale of Kate Kontent, the daughter of Russian working-class parents who through luck, hard work, and skillful social climbing finds herself wining and dining with the cream of the crop socialites in the big city. Her path wasn't always easy and there was heartbreak, regret and missed chances along the way. Kate is my kind of heroine, who triumphed with style and brains.
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