Clare Loveridge, Vice President and General Manager EMEA, Arctic Wolf, reflects on the changes she has witnessed in the Channel during her career including a move to more collaborative and empathetic team management.

What was your first job?:

My first job was working at a pizza counter in an ASDA supermarket, but my first real job in IT was for a wireless IDS company in security called Red-M. My role there was a combination of building both a Channel & direct sales funnel, although at the time I had absolutely no idea what Channel sales was. I opened the yellow pages and started making calls; it was a fantastic experience and I learned an awful lot and very quickly. My first sale was to News International in Wapping which was the company’s biggest ever sale at the time.

How did you get into Channel?

One of the partners I signed up at Red-M called me one day suggesting I apply for a role as a Channel Manager with BakBone, a technology solution that they were selling at the time, and it was from there that I took my first step into a pure Channel role.

Best day on the job ever:

A team building event at Nimble Storage: During my tenure at Nimble the team had gone from being EMEA wide to being split into EMEA North and EMEA South which meant little interaction between the two divisions. When we made the decision to bring EMEA back to one team we held a team building event in the Lake District which was like bringing the family back together again! A very special moment for me and hopefully for the rest of the team.

Biggest thing that’s changed in the industry since you started:

Management has changed massively since I started in this industry, and in a good way. In today’s management environment, we’ve moved away from being heavy-handed to a more collaborative and empathetic approach and it’s very refreshing. Another change I am very proud of is seeing more women working in IT. When I started, I recall a colleague saying that IT is an ‘old boy’s school’, which made me feel as though this role was outside my remit, as a woman. How times have changed! Thankfully.

Best ever deal:

I must go back to my first ever deal with News International, that was a memorable moment that I’ll never forget. More recently, I have been extremely proud of the recent deal we did with the Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 team. There were a lot of teams involved, from leadership in North America, our marketing teams making the sponsorship possible, to the EMEA sales team working through the value that Arctic Wolf would bring to the team to protect them against cyber risk. It was very much a group effort and the feedback we’ve had since we announced the partnership has been phenomenal.

How has the pandemic changed your priorities?:

My business priorities are very much the same. If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to look after my team and support them by taking care of their mental health. It’s been a difficult few years for everybody, so I want to ensure my people are taking well deserved breaks, spending time with their family, switching off when they book a holiday and not working when they are ill etc.

Are you witnessing a skills shortage and difficulties recruiting people into the Channel? Why should young talent choose a career in the tech channel?:

We haven’t struggled to hire people into our channel roles so far and will hopefully continue to be able to hire the best into Arctic Wolf – we are 100% channel, so hiring the right people into our roles is key for the growth expectations.

The tech Channel is an incredibly rewarding career path that can really help you evolve as a person. You get to look at each aspect of the business; everything from building key relationships at all levels, working closely with marketing to build plans and execute activities, through to managing the entire sales funnel.  It can be the springboard into many different parts of IT.

How has the Covid pandemic affected your role and the IT Channel in general?:

My role, goals and results continue to stay the same, that doesn’t change whether I’m face to face or working remotely. I do miss the work environment though – it’s important for me to get that motivation by interacting with my team and other people across the business. Before the pandemic, I was travelling country to country, so now I do have more time to stay on top of things. I really miss the face time and energy you get when meeting clients face to face. Hopefully we’ll get back to normal very soon.

Tomorrow’s world: your prediction:

From a broader technology standpoint, Cloud adoption will continue picking up the pace. From a cyber security point of view, security threats will continue to get smarter. We will see more high-profile cyber attacks across all industries and so the demand from businesses of all sizes for greater protection and support will increase dramatically.

Then and now – the one thing you wish you knew back then:

Self-awareness is key. It’s nice to be nice. When starting my career, it was very tough and demanding but I’ve learnt that if you handle things in a different, positive way, you’ll get a better result. You should always be true to yourself and I encourage everyone on my team to do the same.

Visit Clare’s LinkedIn profile here