Technology Record - Issue 27: Winter 2022

42 E X E CUT I V E I NT E R V I EW A passion for partners Microsoft’s new chief partner officer Nicole Dezen discusses the value of the firm’s Cloud Partner Program and how it is helping partners to navigate a tumultuous business landscape BY ANDY C L AY TON - SM I TH Partners are becoming an increasingly important part of the Microsoft offering, as exemplified by the firm’s new partner programme. We talk with recently appointed chief partner officer and corporate vice president of global partner solutions, Nicole Dezen, about the new programme, the values which have driven her career and her new role. Whilst you assumed your new role recently, you have been at Microsoft for some time. Tell us a little about your career to date and the path you have taken to reach your current position. I originally joined Microsoft in 2007 after several years in the telecommunications industry and time as CEO of two tech start-ups in California. It’s an absolute privilege to do the jobs I have been able to do here at Microsoft, and to lead such phenomenal teams. My Microsoft journey started in our enterprise commercial business, working with one of the firm’s global customers. From there, I moved to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, to join our device partner business, and I have worked in our partner business ever since then with roles in Redmond, Singapore and the UK. I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to live in three vastly different geographies. Prior to my current role, I led the device partner business for three years, working with the teams that build, market and sell our edge and cloud solutions with partners all over the world. What’s the significance of the chief partner officer title? Is it simply an evolution of previous channel chief positions or does your new role aim to fulfil different objectives? I am so grateful for my career at Microsoft, and I am humbled to be in a role that has been in my plan for several years. The chief partner officer role is not an evolution of the traditional channel chief. Instead, it is designed to send a very clear signal to our partners that Microsoft is deeply committed to and invested in partner success. It conveys the unique breadth, scope and scale of our partner ecosystem, and illustrates the Microsoft focus on partners. I feel a huge sense of responsibility to our partners. I am passionate about our partner ecosystem; partners are on the front lines every single day, delivering differentiated services and solutions to businesses of all sizes, all around the world. I feel accountable for ensuring that they get the best from Microsoft, so that they in turn can provide the best to customers. This year, Microsoft has made some significant changes to the way it engages with its global partner ecosystem. What will the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program (MCPP) look like and how will the new structure help customers to better understand the complex relationship between Microsoft and its closest commercial allies? We officially launched the MCPP on 3 October 2022 and I’m really proud of how we evolved the Microsoft Partner Network after nearly two decades in the market. The three guiding principles for the new programme are customer success, partner differentiation and cloud innovation. Aligned with the launch, our initial six Solutions Partner designations also became generally available