Each year, CRN editors vet top channel executives, looking for a few good men and women whose dynamic strategies and program innovations demonstrate a drive for channel growth above and beyond the call of duty. They spotlight these leaders in an annual Who’s Who of channel heavy hitters, and we’re proud to announce that three of Citrix’s own are among the Channel Company’s CRN 2018 Channel Chiefs. Congratulations to Craig Stilwell, Rafael Garzon and Neily Buff.

Together, they represent over fifty years of industry experience, a spirit of ceaseless innovation, and the kind of commitment to their partner communities that doesn’t just foster success — it reshapes the industry.

Craig Stilwell, 2018 Channel Chief

Craig Stilwell spent the last year doing what he does best: getting out in the field and connecting with the partners he’s come to know so well. Having served Citrix for over 18 years, he’s no stranger to the channel. It’s not surprising that in his first year as Vice President, Worldwide Partner Sales, he has quickly risen to the top as one of CRN’s 2018 Channel Chiefs.

This year he gathered and then aligned considerable partner feedback toward creating a complete re-write of the entire Citrix Solution Advisor incentive program: the new Citrix Ultimate Rewards.

Exceptionally simple and easy to use, Citrix Ultimate Rewards features streamlined registration and increased automation. It also has tracking tools for greater transparency and faster processing, as well as incentives specifically designed to help partners monitor, drive and profit from Citrix Cloud usage. Citrix Ultimate Rewards also has an extremely flexible backend that can allow the offerings to grow and evolve with the market — without requiring a revamp from IT.

“The simplification built into the program is going to free up our partners’ time so that they’ll be able to sell more and focus on building business,” he explains. “It will also help us to attract more sellers into the Citrix community because the program is simpler and easier to understand.”

Hear more about the groundbreaking program straight from the man himself in this short video.

Craig’s leadership has brought about a combination of changes to the distribution programs and an increased focus and investment on directly-managed partners. The Citrix Service Provider (CSP) business is growing worldwide at a rate of 44 percent.

These strides haven’t gone unnoticed. Among Craig’s accolades this year is Microsoft’s U.S. ISV Partner of the Year for Azure. In addition, seven women from Craig’s team were honored as CRN’s 2017 Women of the Channel. On a personal note (and most meaningful to him), Citrix was the top corporate fundraiser in 2017 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, of which he was the chair.

What’s he reading these days? Zone to Win by Geoffrey Moore, a practical guide to dealing with change and innovation for an established business. “It helped us organize in a way that allowed for sustaining our competencies while aligning with our future goals.”

Values have always been the cornerstone of how he conducts business. He has long believed that the ability to communicate hope and optimism is a critical piece of strong leadership—and it’s something he’s proud to see reflected throughout the Citrix culture.

“While Citrix has seen a substantial amount of change in the last year, we’ve come through that change upholding the Citrix cultural values of Integrity, Respect, Curiosity, Courage and Unity that extend to and through our partnerships.”

Learn more on CRN or connect with Craig on LinkedIn and Twitter. Catch up on his latest blog posts!

Rafael Garzon, 2018 Channel Chief He’s done it again. For the fourth consecutive year in a row, Rafael Garzon, VP Partner Sales, Americas, Citrix, has been named as CRN’s 2018 Channel Chief. How does this powerhouse strategist continue to create winning go-to-market innovations for the Americas Geos? A total focus on customer success.

His current top priorities include partner enablement and Citrix Cloud partner development. To that end, his team has developed training that leverages the same content used by top Citrix architects and added HOWs (Hands On Workshops) to help partners understand the Cloud — and apply what they learn with real configurations.

And his partner community is certainly feeling the love. Among the partner feedback received: “I trust Citrix,” and “I believe in and see the vision of what Citrix is trying to accomplish. Your products add value.”

Rafael is also the recipient of the Global Alliance Technology Partner of the Year 2017 (Intelligent Edge Solutions) for his commitment to creating joint technical innovation in digital workspace solutions for mid-sized companies, as well as the Microsoft US EPG Cloud Infrastructure Partner of the Year.

Over the last year, his team has expanded distribution in the US and Canada, added Arrow to the Citrix distributor family, marketed SDF implementation, and moved to a proposal-based model with higher focus on ROI — helping partners with strong plans grow faster.

Grow, indeed. In 2017, his partner community saw a tremendous net new partner sourced (now Spark) year over year increase in pipeline creation and bookings. Citrix Service Provider business in the Americas also continues to grow steadily. Among his proudest innovations: new, high-impact programs at large national partner organizations designed to better fit partner needs and boost Citrix brand awareness. For example, the Sales Enablement Tools program is a concise 20-minute training template with specific, customizable use case slides that guides partners on how to approach different vertical markets — and how to open new Citrix opportunities.

As Citrix transitions from a strictly perpetual licensing model to a subscription service, Garzon is excited about delivering increased agility and innovation. “The customer is at the core of our business like never before,” he says. “We will be with them every step of the way.”

What’s the secret to his success? “Sales is a people sport,” Rafael says. “It’s based on relationships, accountability and trust.” He believes that magic happens when field reps at the partner work with field reps at the vendor.

As a student of meditation and yoga, Rafael’s bucket list includes one day travelling to a meditation retreat in the Himalayas in India. “I look forward to the peacefulness, awareness and learning that this experience would bring,” Garzon says. “This personal journey of discovery would be impactful and life transforming.” 

Learn more on CRN or connect with Rafael on LinkedIn and Twitter

Neily Buff, 2018 Channel ChiefWhat’s one of the most important factors in a partners’ success? In a word, training. To stay ahead of the curve, partners need new ways to make on-demand, instructor-led and virtual training more relevant, flexible and attractive for the customers.

Enter Neily Buff, Sr. Director, SMB Sales. In her role as Sr. Director, Education Solutions Neily earned her Citrix 2018 Channel Chief title as she led the Education Solutions global team at Citrix, and developing and managing partner programs through which the channel delivers nearly 100% of Citrix Education’s training. Her years at Citrix have one unifying theme: overachievement. Her teams, like her innovations, don’t just meet their goals — they sail past them.

2017 was no exception: within the first 10 months of her launch of the new Partner Accelerator program designed to reward CALC Partners for meeting defined quarterly targets, 40% of participating partners showed bookings overachievement, adding significant incremental revenue to the bottom line.

Neily also launched an on-demand eLearning platform with upsell opportunities, creating a complete end-to-end understanding of the products. Her team continuously collaborated with partners to innovate traditional training modalities with badging, gamification, updated certifications, and real-world consultant instructors

Most critically, Neily’s team fundamentally re-engineered the way a student learns.

For example, Citrix technical certifications are a key pathway for partners to increase industry recognition and achieve competitive differentiation. The problem? Keeping partners’ credentials up to date, and removing the roadblocks to recertification. Neily created a winning solution with the launch of the Citrix Recertification program, which provides partners and customers additional options to maintain their certification, as well as opportunities to learn from highly-rated field instructors and consultants about what’s changed in a product — and to network with peers who are facing similar challenges in a differing industry. This restructuring has not only brought in incremental revenue across all Geos, it has reinvigorated the channel partners’ approach to positioning Citrix training.

When asked what advice she relies on to drive her success, Neily harkens back to her early days just after college, when she was working in a dot.com startup. “My team had this great business idea,” she recalls, “and got support from the leadership to go for it.” Fast forward many months — and many dollars. The idea fell flat, and her team had to admit failure. Despite the setback, Neily never forgot her CEO’s reaction. “She said, ‘Good news, guys. We failed fast! Now let’s go do something else.’ I loved her attitude on risk, and moving forward if it failed.”

Neily’s penchant for staying in the moment is reflected in her bucket list — or lack thereof. “I actually don’t have a bucket list,” she says, “and I don’t want one. My philosophy is, ‘why wait?’ If you want to do it, do it now!”

Learn more on CRN or connect with Neily on LinkedIn and Twitter

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