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Ecosystem Leaders

Episode 23

September 25, 2018

#23 Scott Owen: How to Become Part of Your Partner�s Workflow

Jay Cherrington and Barbara Hallmans from Hewlett Packard Enterprise aim to be catalysts for one of their major partners, Microsoft.

How to Become a Catalyst for Your Strategic Partner

Does the word “catalyst” describe your relationship with your strategic partners? What about “motivator” or “spark plug?”

Jay Cherrington and Barbara Hallmans from Hewlett Packard Enterprise aim to be catalysts for one of their major partners, Microsoft.  

Jay is the Director of the Microsoft Strategic Alliance, and his role is to deliver on the corporate and strategic relationship with Microsoft.  He is focused on executing the long term relationship view for both partners and to integrate solutions between the two organizations.

Barbara is the Global Sales Director of the Microsoft Alliance, and she focuses on short term execution.  What are the team’s priorities for this quarter, and how can they make sure they hit their sales numbers?  

She loves enabling partners, bringing tech experts together, and getting buy in from top management support.  She also advises Jay and his team based on what she has seen in the market. Both Jay and Barbara ensure that everyone on both sides is aware of where things are headed, and how they can best amplify the unified message of both companies.

We recently got together with Jay and Barbara at the Microsoft Inspire Conference to learn more about the challenges of an alliance role, the concept of being a catalyst, and building trust between partners.


When developing relationships between partners, there are both challenges and opportunities.  Some of the challenges include understanding the right joint sales incentives and where to investment resources for both companies.  

Jay is always looking for where there are opportunities and areas to differentiate their products and services within these challenges.  Luckily, the top line strategies are very aligned between Microsoft and HP; they are heading in a common direction.  

Jay even jokes that the CEOs of both organizations are using the same messaging often before even consulting with one another.  You know you’re onto something if both CEOs from aligned companies are using the same messaging with very little effort.

“When our CEOs are saying the same thing and using the same words, and not even coordinating that they’re using the same words, that’s a good sign.” - Jay Cherrington

Concept of Catalyst

Quarterback, orchestrator, and spark plug are some great words to describe what an alliance professional does.  How are you as an alliance professional acting as a catalyst upstream to make sure both you and your partner are aligned for success?  Often two separate companies coming together have different tech roadmaps and strategic objectives, but there’s a unique place where the two companies become more than the sum of their parts through alliances.  

Jay and Barbara ensure that while there can be varying objectives to hit along the way for companies, they should have the same priorities if they are partners.  Jay and Barbara are spurring on these conversations early on to make sure partnerships are aligned from day one.

Building Trust

Barbara has definitely learned that not every country does business the same way.  For example, some countries have more security needs than others.  Gaining feedback from their different markets helps complete the cycle of continuous improvement and gain trust in different areas.

Barbara’s favorite part of her job is getting to work with many other cultures.  As much as technology plays a role in the world of business, at the end of the day people are still working with people and she loves learning every day.

“Not every country is the same.  Although we set up our global strategy and communicate what we believe are the top priorities, we can only give them guidance to a point at the country level.” - Barbara Hallmans

To further the notion of building trust and a healthy relationship, Microsoft and HP talk candidly to with one another.  These insightful conversations are needed to build trust.  

They talk about everything from issues and challenges, to opportunities in the market, all the way to the customer journey and how to improve it. Often tough conversations need to be had but are necessary in figuring out how to best work together.

There’s a fundamental value of respect, trust and recognition that both Microsoft and HP exhibit with one another.  Barbara views it like a family; there are some things they agree on, and some issues of disagreement they just have to let go.  But they know for certain they are better together than they are apart.

“Trust is dependent on relationships.” - Jay Cherrington

Check out other Alliance Podcasts here.

To contact the host, Chip Rodgers, with topic ideas, suggest a guest, or join the conversation about alliances, he can be reached by: