In this, our first “Get to Know” blog post, we sat down with Karl Soderlund and asked him some questions to help you get to know him personally and professionally.
Question: Change is never easy. What was your main reason for joining the Palo Alto Networks channels team?
Karl: Over the years, I’ve respected the positive impact Palo Alto Networks has made on the market, both with customers and partners. I have many close colleagues who have joined Palo Alto Networks, and they rave about the company, our culture and our potential. I wanted to be a part of what they are building and the transformation they are leading. I’ve been in and out of security for a long time, and the whole idea of preventing both known and unknown threats and protecting our way of digital life really resonates with me.
Question: You have been on the job for a few weeks now. What are your initial impressions?
Karl: Palo Alto Networks has exceeded my expectations. The speed of the business is fast, the people are world-class, we are empowered and accountable for driving success, and everyone is willing to help.
Question: What should partners in the Americas expect from you and your leadership?
Karl: I will be hands-on, in the field and committed to their success.
Question: What do your first 30 days on the job look like?
Karl: For the first 30 days, I will be focusing on two things. First, listening to partners to better understand their needs. I know Ron Myers has built a worldwide channels team that is committed to listening, learning and acting, and I am a big believer in these principles. Second, I will work on getting to know the team and will look for opportunities to optimize our resources to fuel partner success.
Question: What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Palo Alto Networks channel partners?
Karl: Leading with a breach prevention-oriented approach by becoming next-generation security innovators and selling the entire Palo Alto Networks platform. What we have built and achieved today has been in complete lockstep with our partners who saw a disruptive, game-changing technology in our next-generation firewall. Today, the full Next-Generation Security Platform is our key differentiator and represents a massive opportunity for our partners that they don’t get with any other security vendor.
Question: What do you see as the biggest challenge for Palo Alto Networks channel partners?
Karl: I see two key challenges facing our partners today. One: staying focused on the long-term to provide the most effective security solution to address our customer’s security challenges, which is a natively integrated and automated security platform. We can no longer sell point products that are incapable of protecting our customers from today’s sophisticated cyberattacks.
Two is cloud and, more importantly, how partners are evolving their businesses to align with this new way to consume security. We are absolutely committed to helping our partners successfully capitalize on the cloud opportunity and the innovation Palo Alto Networks can provide.
Question: According to our annual Partner Satisfaction Survey, partners would like to continue to strengthen their relationship with Palo Alto Networks sales. What are the best practices you have learned during your channel tenure to strengthen this critical working relationship?
Karl: Get this right and it becomes your key differentiator. The best way to strengthen our sales relationships is joint account planning. It’s a common interest we all share in sales. How can we do more business together? Not only do you learn more about each other’s business, you also build trust. And that is paramount to any successful partnership.
Question: If you were writing a book about how to successfully lead a channel organization, what would you say are the three keys to success?
Karl: One, actively listen. Two, check your ego at the door. And three, never get out-hustled.
Question: It’s time for the speed round. I am going to rapid fire questions at you that require short answers? Ready …
Question: Up to this point, I have peppered you with questions. What’s the one thing you want channel partners to know about you?
Karl: That I am their biggest advocate, and I am just a phone call away if they need me.
Karl joined Palo Alto Networks on May 15, 2017. He is a Boston-area native living in Naples, Florida, with his three kids. Karl just picked up fishing – if you know of any secret places, respond to this blog so Karl and his kids can check them out.
Register for Ignite ’17 Security Conference
Vancouver, BC June 12–15, 2017
Ignite ’17 Security Conference is a live, four-day conference designed for today’s security professionals. Hear from innovators and experts, gain real-world skills through hands-on sessions and interactive workshops, and find out how breach prevention is changing the security industry. Visit the Ignite website for more information on tracks, workshops and marquee sessions.