10 minutes with Kimberly King, Senior Vice President, Strategic Partners & Alliances, Hitachi Vantara

What was your first job?

My very first job while in college, I worked in real-estate, managing, renting, and selling properties. What I really loved about the job was the opportunity to meet new and interesting people every day – definitely an early indicator that I wanted to have a career that involved connecting with people. In my current role at Hitachi Vantara, this is something that I do on a day-to-day basis – working with partners, getting to know them and their goals, and helping them find the best solutions for meeting them and scaling their business as they do so.

How did you get in to Channel marketing?

My Channel career began at a company called Four Systems, which had just then acquired an organisation that was 100% Channel. I was running their operations and inside sales team and soon discovered my love for working with partners, as my role primarily focused on building programmes for our partners. Of course, back then, the Channel was nothing like it is today: we used to build binders and put CDs in them with our programme documentation to ship them around the world. Now we have amazing online portals and tools to connect with our partners.

I had the opportunity to work with companies like Time Warner and ABC to help them successfully implement new technology, working for Cabletron Systems. This was in the early 90s when transformation wasn’t as widely understood as it is today, and I found the challenge both exciting and rewarding. Moving forward in my career, I combined my expertise in the Channel sector with my passion for technology to help our customers transform their business and drive large scale Channel transformation across organisations. I‘ve never looked back, and have now been in the business for more than 25 years!

Best day on the job ever?

What’s coming to mind would be when Mark Ablett was recently appointed President of the Digital Infrastructure business unit at Hitachi Vantara. This was really exciting for me as one of the things that I enjoy most about my job is the constant transformation we drive on a daily basis. Seeing someone I really respect in our organisation excel and go to that next level is phenomenal and goes far in helping us deliver the best solutions to our partners.

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

Technology has changed massively, particularly how we use technology to work with our partners to make them more competitive, and how it helps spearhead innovation and productivity. I constantly challenge my team to work more closely with our partners to understand the latest and greatest technology. This ensures we’re always looking ahead of the curve and thinking about what’s next so we can apply different and innovative solutions to solve some of the biggest business challenges facing us today. It’s all about collaboration when doing business and continuous engagement with our partner community is paramount.

Best ever deal?

Recently we had a massive competitive take-out where our partner fully led the opportunity and brought our solution (E590) to a customer to resolve performance issues and scale their business. This resulted in our product being implemented across their entire organisation. It was important for us to see that we successfully solved this real-world customer problem – something that we strive to do every day.

How has the pandemic changed your priorities?

For me personally, I have tried to carve out time for myself and encouraged my team to do the same. It’s important to take time for yourself, exercise and walk away from your computer when you can for example, and work healthy hours whenever possible.

Regarding our business priorities, like everyone else, we focused on staying connected to our partners through digital channels. We provided free training and webinars to help them not only understand our solutions, but ways of working with sales organisations and best practices in marketing. So far, we’ve had hundreds of partners enrol in free online training courses and opened up our entire training portfolio to them. This level of engagement and ability to help partners feel connected to us was key, especially during the start of the pandemic.

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

Amid the Channel sector’s ongoing digital transformation, we’re seeing that it is becoming increasingly diverse and full of opportunities for new talent. There are so many unique opportunities and I believe young people can have an amazing career growth path in the industry.

New talent will be essential as the Channel grows and transforms, and I think that leadership has a great role to play in encouraging young people to consider a career here. For example, by showing how fun and interesting a job in the Channel can be and demonstrating the learning and growth opportunities available to them. Educating, supporting, and mentoring new talent in the industry is so critical for this, and it’s something I’m really passionate about.

Tomorrow’s world: your predictions?

Tomorrow’s world will be complex due to the growth we’re seeing in data and analytics. Within the Channel, we need to focus on understanding these insights that we can derive from data to be able to predict what is going to happen next and how we can better engage with our partners.

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

I would say, nothing is ever permanent. There are days where you feel like nothing is going right and then you wake up the next day and amazing things happen. So, don’t look in the rear-view, just keep looking forward because that is where the future is!

Kimberly King is the Senior Vice President, Strategic Partners & Alliances at Hitachi Vantara. Kim has over 20 years of Channel experience working with large and small organizations to build innovative programs focused on partner’s growth. As the key leader within the Strategic Partners & Alliances organisation, Kimberly King is focused on helping Hitachi Vantara establish and grow strategic partnerships that create a competitive advantage for the organisation in the marketplace. She is also responsible for constructing and delivering a flexible and scalable global partner program that allows for new types of partners and business models, including as-a-service, managed services, and co-creation.

Visit Kimberly’s LinkedIn profile here