Crafting Your Path: Embracing Unconventional Routes to being a Partnership Leader

Show Notes

On this week’s episode of the Investible Partnerships™ podcast, we talk to Reagan Koryozo , Partner Manager, Global Software Alliances, APJ, at Amazon Web Services (AWS) , about his unique journey from competitive gamer (esports) to partnership leader, his formula for being a driver at Partner impact through innovative technology partnerships in Asia Pacific Japan and his formula for building trust and scaling partner success.

Key Takeaways

00:00 - Introduction

1:23 - From Esports to AWS , my Journey into Partnerships

3:13 - A Framework for Understanding Investible Partnerships

5:22 - The Importance of Partner Differentiation within Marketplaces

7:32 - Engaging Early with Partners in the Sales Process

10:37 - The Evolution of the AWS Technology Partnerships Team

17:32 - Is there Enough Differentiation in the Partnerships Space?

22:45 - Growing Partnerships in the APJ(Asia-Pacific-Japan) Region

26:46 - How do you Think About the Motion of Partnering?

32:48 - Building Trust and Understanding Partner Needs

41:05 – Good Partnership Professionals are Good Orchestrators

43:09 – The Partnerships Fast Five

"Get buy in from others around you is you can't be on your own developing partnerships"
“The biggest battle you have with partners is mindshare. So, you need to be really clear cut into how you engage with them the value you bring to them"


Des Russell  0:02  

Hi there and welcome to the Investible Partnerships podcast. It's great to have Reagan Koryoza from Amazon Web Services, join on today's podcast. And you know, Reagan, it's always good to have another colleague we've had Kelly Griffen, join us in our very first episode. So, you make our third episode and it's so good to have you here. As we learn, how were you have been a driver of partner impact for Amazon Web Services. So, I'd love to start there. Tell us a bit about yourself. So over to you.

Raegan Koryozo  1:23  

Thanks. Thanks for having me. And I did listen to the to the podcast and my colleague, Kelly, earlier this morning just to make sure I wasn't covering anything that he covered as well. So, I really appreciate you having me on. He's someone I work closely, day and day in day out and you're doing a great job with the podcast, I just want to want to preface the podcast with that as well. So, looking forward to being on today, I guess this will just by way of background as for the audience.

So, I work in the technology partner team here at AWS, and have done so for the last three and a half years, we sort of categorize technology partners predominantly as a software companies or ISVs, which are built on top of AWS as a customer first and foremost. And then we obviously help grow them across the build market and sell and  we have helped them grow their business because I mean, as a by-product of them growing the business right, as a customer, they're more successful on AWS.

So, that's been my world for the last three and a half years. And I support mostly in my current role now global  ISV’s to work with some of the largest security vendors overseas and in the world expand into the APJ market via AWS and via a lot of our co-sell mechanisms and with our team. Prior to that I was at Trend Micro so on the other side of the fence, I was in vendor land, you could say from our point of view, working at trend or working with our MSP. So, I've been in partnerships in  you could say officially for the last five years. Before that I had a really, really weird career trajectory.

I was involved heavily in esports and ran my own esports team and travelled the world playing competitive video gaming, dealing with sponsors back then. And I didn't really appreciate it at the time. But that was my foray into partnerships I was dealing with, like at a very young age with Logitech, Monster Energy, and negotiating sponsorship contracts and managing some of the best video games in Ainsdale at a time, and that was my university degree, you could say it's a partnerships and learning how to build people relationships. And so that really helped me has helped me greatly and what I do today,

Des Russell  3:13  

So, you were  into gaming. I mean, you know, I always talk about this on the podcast and the journey of people in partnerships is crazy people don't the people don't understand that. That's not the proven pathway that you typically get from any career. So, eSports gaming, was your kind of the start into partnerships. I never knew that. That's, that's unbelievable, man. What did you learn about partnerships, then that you lead you to what you're doing today.

Raegan Koryozo  3:49  

Funnily enough, I was speaking to one of our global leaders, a couple months back, he was in Sydney for a tour. And I was telling him this exact story how I got into partnerships into the you know, the corporate IT world and he was like, it's funny because me as a leader to which we have this vision of someone that comes into our world comes through and does university or college degrees and starts in a junior role works their way up he goes, but he likes to pick people that have obscure diverse backgrounds because it brings a unique viewpoint.

And for me, like when I was telling that story, I look back and at the time, I thought that was a weakness of mine as I didn't have this long corporate background. But the background I had an Esports brought me diverse perspectives and almost like a startup perspective in a way that when I joined trend and AWS, it helped me because I was a little naïve in a way and that naivety has been my greatest strength because I haven't come with any preconceived notions of the way things have been done, which I think has been really strong and in eSports because especially when I was doing it was so new was all about trust, and people and this is something day in day out right as you're working in the partnership world.

And out of Amazon's 14 leadership principles. The most important one for me is earn trust you Because we can talk about program and mechanisms go to market, none of that matters if the partner doesn't trust you, and the people don't trust you.

So that is, for me has been the biggest learning point throughout my whole career is build trust with people, not only just companies, but people, people on the other side of the fence that you're working with day in and day out. If you build that trust, then there's no problem we can't solve together.

Des Russell  5:20  

In the partnerships world, we have the commercial agreement between one or more companies. But the reality is how you execute that is to through the people. And that's a great segue into, into your particular role. And I know this is called the Investible Partnerships podcast.

And it's really all about looking at how people are being a driver for partner impact in this partnership led world and we talk about two key things around relevance and value. Trust is a component of that , so you've got if I can kind of replay to you, you've got global software companies that are looking to expand in this geography in APJ.

They either net new to the partner ecosystem, or they're an existing organisation that has  built a strong partner program or partner ecosystem, they looking to  scale with AWS. For you do you have a framework of thinking about partnerships and how investible they will be?

Raegan Koryozo  5:20  

Yes, absolutely. Good question. There's,  something, especially my early my earlier roles at AWS, I was on a scale role dealing with mostly local startups trying to get into the AWS partner network and get on AWS Marketplace and really build that motion with us.

And that, for me, has given me a really good grounding in my role now the will I deal with some of the largest software vendors in the world trying to work with us because I quickly realized in this role that a lot of them would lean on brand name, and think, Well, we've got where brand name x, we're really strong in what we do, surely, AWS would want to work with us and surely your field sellers would want to work with us.

So, I quickly realized that was not the case, right? The same way I had to manage a local startup was the same way to manage what we call the global ISV large brand. And it came down to a few things as once again, people, right, they need to have boots on the ground, people are ready to partner and have the right intentions. Secondly, there needs to be goalies correctly. And I've seen this, and this is if channel managers here leaders that are building goals and mechanisms for their team and dealing with CSPs verse channel, really think about the differences there. Because the best, most successful partners for us at AWS are ones that puts the CSPs in a different bucket.

They don't measure success with AWS, the same way they measure that channel. It's quite different ecosystem that you're dealing with. So that's a big part of how I quantify as if a partnership was investable right now as well. And then third is that differentiation is that true value, we have 1000s of partners in our network, who all say they do the same thing. And Kelly was talking about this in the podcast too. Same in the software world, right, we've got can imagine me in the security space, we have 30,40,50 security vendors who when it comes for our teams, as well as our AWS sellers, very confusing space security vendor, A, B, C, D, that also they do cloud security, what's the difference, right?

And they need to stand out, they need to have a unique value proposition to really understand some of the metrics about the value they bring to our customers. And even to the point of our sellers, like what's in it for our sales teams when working with vendor x versus vendor y.

And knowing that is really important, because not enough of them know that there's assume that our sales team would want to work them because of their brand. And so, the ones that have done really well understand exactly how to speak our language and talked about teams.

Des Russell  7:32  

So, let's double click on that because I think that that's a really important point. We often think that the type of business and, the brand, the size of the technology business, whether it's MSP, ISV, or whether it's a services partner in particular, that depending on the type of business, the engagement needs to be different, but what I'm hearing from you is that the engagement from how you look at it is irrespective.

You mentioned three things , people, goals, and differentiation. So, let's take this to the marketplace because I know that you spend a lot of time with your SaaS vendors and ISVs in the marketplace. And unbelievably the marketplace is dominating every motion that in particularly the hyper scalars are going to market with, with partners. So why is marketplace so important to the AWS strategy? And then the second part of that question is, how do partners differentiate in a marketplace?

Raegan Koryozo  10:35  

Good question. So, I'll give you some background. As to three and a half years ago, when I joined, I was the third person in our technology partnerships team in ANZ  and the SI part of the business completely dwarfs our technology partner team, like we were very small part. And even I remember my onboarding, AWS, a lot of our sales leaders were like, we didn't really get this tech partner space, we don't really get marketplace. In three and a half years, it's like this, the switch has been flipped. And it's completely opposite around our team, technology partner team now has had a lot of investment marketplace that a lot of investment, both from a go to market motion, but resource headcount development, engineering. And I think a couple of reasons behind that is a, we've, as a business, a lot of our leadership have realized that our software partners, our customers, first and foremost, customer obsession is our number one leadership principle. So, we need to support them and being successful, because there's no and as a by-product, they will naturally spend more or less, right, it's going to happen.

And I also think the shift in the market where a lot of the cloud development, the cloud maturity, a lot of enterprise customers are particularly when they migrated to AWS, or cloud in general, a lot of the core workloads are self-managed software solutions. And what's happening now is with the evolution of SaaS alot of those self manage solutions on AWS, and are moving towards SaaS still on AWS, but no longer in a customer's tenancy, if you want to say it's, it's obviously in the ISVs. And so, a lot of our sales leadership have never realised that our sellers also need to change and evolve and become more like trusted advisors rather than selling, just selling compute just selling storage and databases. They're now becoming trusted advisors, not just to their cloud usage, but in a whole ecosystem of solutions.

What are you using now for CRM? What are you using? For data? What are you using for security? I see this day in day out our sellers are coming to us and say my customers asked me about this solution, that solution, we do not have to say right? How do we get enabled to no more around that the software portfolio? And so, I think it's a combination of those things driving marketplace, then being natural at the procurement Wait, like, Okay, now, we will advise you on solutions. Now, we obviously want you to buy through our network. And so I think it's an evolution of that, I think we're also doing a great job from AWS and creating a pull motion, we're making it really enticing for our customers to buy from marketplace, both from an engineering point of view, making it easy to buy it, but also a number of financial reasons why they may want to buy it. So, there's, I say it's a pull in a push motion happening is the customers are pulling, ISVs  to sell on marketplace because they want to buy it. And then we're also working with our software partners to push customers to buy there for their own reasons as well.

Des Russell  13:09  

So, let's double click on that particular point, because I think if I if I remember correctly, you you're talking about the transaction of them in the marketplace. You know, what happens before that because there's this got go to marketplace motion that is being driven through a number of organisations, I think in the partnership space, Cosell ISV, that that type of motion is kind of front and central of working with hyper scalars. Now, the marketplace is the transaction point. So, what do you think partners are doing well? Or what do you think partners aren't doing well, when it comes to how they're helping this push and pull motion that you're talking about?

Raegan Koryozo  13:58  

Yeah, absolutely. I see varying degree of maturity of this. There are partners that are all in and working with AWS that they've built this CSP Alliance team. They've built assets, collateral incentives, and talent to Kosovars not to just to transact for to co-selling encouraging their sellers to share opportunities with us earlier, engage with our sales team earlier. So, we can we as AWS can have a level of influence on the opportunity. There are others that have put us very much in the channel bracket, that goal their team's exactly as they would a traditional channel partner.

That is the least successful obviously, the first example is the most successful with it in their goals and their KPIs are driving the right behavior's and CO selling with us. And I'd say it's important to do that because you put us in the traditional channel bucket. We were not a traditional channel, our sellers have 200 plus services 1000s of partners, the biggest battle you have with them is mindshare . So, you need to be really clear cut into how you engage with them the value you bring to them and be willing to almost sometimes offer more on the table before you get back. I had I listened to a great podcast actually was on the partnership  leaders YouTube channel in the last week and  in , on one of the sessions, they were talking about working with CSPs. And they say working with CSPs is like having a savings account where you need to make a lot of deposits before you can make it withdraw. But it has a long-term compounding effect.

And that's what it's like collaborating with us for you. In terms of it's like a hockey stick effect, you put alot of investment in and then eventually you'll get success, and it'll amplify and really accelerate. And to be quite frank as well,  I think that early co-sell engagement is the biggest area of investment we're making is AWS as well. I think we've  made great investments in the transaction, as the trend I see with some of my largest security vendors, we're now the transaction part. And even they are challenging us how we do more on the earlier influence. And that's where we're investing a lot and it's still fairly new for us, right. It's new for any CSP.

This the software Cosell piece, so we're still learning, we're investing, we're experimenting. But as the biggest area that we're really trying to focus on is adding that value earlier in opportunities. I think our greatest influence right now is influencing when it's in a stage of pipeline, we're really good at influencing. But when it comes to net new generation, and maybe earlier stage influence and selection, we've still got work to do. But that's really where we're doubling down on.

Raegan Koryozo  15:26  

And how much do you see partners can play a bigger part in that early stage influence. And it comes down to again, we talked about differentiation is very hard for our sell of 200 Plus services 1000s of partners to be like, Yo, I'm going to plug vendor a in my customer, if I don't understand what a vendor it does, versus vendor BC. So, the partners that are the most successful with us in Cosell are the ones that have, again, those three points, really great people that can come in and tell the story build relationships, because then then they still have relationship business suit, right?

Like sellers want to work with vendors and people they know and trust be, again, the goals around so that the goals are setting the right behavior's and how they deal with our teams and vice versa, right, and how we go allow ourselves to work with software partners, and then sees a differentiation like and I've seen some smaller, you could say startup vendors do this better than the legacy you could say very traditional vendors, because the legacy vendors come and say we do everything in ourselves like cool. We don't want it someone does everything in the startup vendors that have a solution that is very niche and pointed, come in and sell it ourselves on why they should co sell them or Kosovo them very quickly. And they get it they're like straightaway, I know to bring this vendor in because they saw X straight away from our customers.

Des Russell  17:32  

Yeah, I think I think there's an element of a former partner and point of view is, if we think about the differentiation, and then being clear on what you particularly solve, or what you particularly what value you add on top of it, when I see when I hear you talk about that right now, imagine the partner now that's an AWS view, which is you've come to me with a bag of tricks or bag of things that you do relative is I can't point it to a particular point of value that we can provide to our customer. Now imagine what that looks like when they are positioning themselves to a customer.

And I think that from investable partners, you really know how to do this really, well, irrespective of whether they're talking to a vendor, or they're talking to a particular customer. And I think that we often when we deal with the channel partners or tech partners, working with hyper scalars, or vendors, we almost feel like they have the skill set to clearly synthesize and make sense of what we do, how we do it, and where it should be, which would be a good fit. And that's not really the point number one, you don't have the mindshare and the time to do that all the time. And you need to be able to cut through that noise, that noise as well. So, when you look at those partners, and you look at differentiation, do you feel that there's enough differentiation, particularly in the partnership space today? Or what do you think partners need to be doing around that differentiation? Is it a skill differentiation or technology skill set differentiation? Or is that it? Or is it how they position the value that they that they add to customers?

Raegan Koryozo  19:24  

I'd say it could be, first of all, definitely not enough differentiation, particularly in the space I'm in when it comes to security that, again, so many vendors and customers are overwhelmed by this. We have customers that have 3040 different security solutions and big focus for them is consolidation. Do I really need this many right, this minutiae security solution, can I not consolidate? So, I think there is a lot of confusion out in the market in the space around differentiation. And I think from a partner's point of view, absolutely.

Don't just focus on that the skill or the technology, focus on again, your messaging to market how you may wrap that around the technology might be quite similar to what else is out in market, but focus the differentiation on who in the market, you're marketing to the messaging, you're putting out the problem you're solving for a particular segment. I mean, on the topic of differentiation, I think there's multiple ways partner can differentiate themselves, not only product wise, there could be slight differences in product, or maybe quite similar. But I think it's how you market right even market to certain segments. Even how your team is enabled, or what they're capable of, or your businesses is ready to serve? Are you ready to serve an SMB market enterprise digital native? What is it right?

How do you differentiate yourself from those particular customers and their segments and how do you speak their language is also another way you can differentiate not just product or skills, as well. So definitely encourage all of our partners, particularly in my first role here, when I was in startups supposed to be very realistic about segment they wanted to serve and how they wanted to differentiate. And so in that segment, very difficult if you're a five person startup, very Development and Engineering focus to sell into a large enterprise or a big bank, you might you might be better off in in certain maturity level stage of your company's growth, to focus on an area that is more suitable for you, you're ready to serve, and you've got the capacity to serve.

That's not just for ISP, or technology department. But same for services partner out to every single partner wants to serve the top end of town, but you may not be ready. And it's important to know that because you can also burn trust really quickly, right? If you come to AWS and you say I'm ready to serve customer XYZ at the top end of town, we do have the trust for you to do that. And you go in and you can't deliver, yeah, then that can burn your business and your trust with ask them with the customers and in the market very quickly.

Des Russell  21:35  

Absolutely. So, when you think about this region, because I think the the APEC or APJ region is very different to the way the rest of the world operates this super local, what I can call hyper local regions within APJ, or in the APEC region as well. You're dealing with technology partnerships, looking to expand through the APJ region, how do you help them? Or what are the things you think that other partnership professionals that are looking to expand in this particular region either on their own or working with AWS? What are the things they should think about when it comes to this particular region? The nuances of APJ? What advice can you give them?

Raegan Koryozo  22:27  

You know, I mean, first and foremost, due respect to colleagues that are doing APJ role, it's very difficult, and we know time zone wise culturally, very different. I got, I had given a bit of an anecdote to a leader in the business here at AWS the other week, saying, you know, North America, or America is doing it this way, why can't we do it the same in APJ. But I sort of looked up and so APJ, as a whole is only slightly smaller than North America in terms of landmass and soils, right. And yet, within that site, that we have so many different languages, so many different cultures, different time zones to deal with.

So, it's a very difficult region to grow and expanding. But I think it's a hugely a high potential region. And I'll say this from all our vendors, right, they see APJ, aliens, that is probably the most mature out of everything in APJ right now. So that's the angels are really great area to experiment with partnering to experiment with good market, because customers are, I've got money, they're willing to experiment and buy different solutions. So that would be my piece of advice, at least is build experimentation in this region. If you work for a global company, and your leader child was in APJ, or ANZ.

Pitch to your leadership, let's do new things here first, before you roll them out in North American EMEA. How do we do new things here, our customers are willing to spend, they've got money, right? So that would be one piece of advice. And the other piece of advice is getting boots on the ground, right travel, go to India, go to Japan, go to Korea go across ASEAN. This is something I've learned as someone that's had an angel role doing APJ very different markets, different culturally different the way they manage relationships and stakeholder relationships. And you need to as a partnership professional, get out there and understand those nuances, because there's a huge learning curve to have there.

And it'll be very hard for you to grow business in India, for example, from a INSEAD unless you've gone and built relationships and even from your own business point of view, you put boots on the ground sellers out there that understand the market that had relationships. And for me, before we talk about program, there's the most important thing is knowing those markets and knowing that people that's the biggest challenge I have working with my vendors growing in APJ.

Des Russell  24:29  

Okay, and it's so really important to kind of, don't worry about the program as such, but really a worry worrying more so about where you're going to land where you're going to land use particular region, and then how do you how do you think when's a good time to kind of start to build the program around it? You know, is it combat, hand to hand combat fighting on the ground? trying to win that first customer when they're first partner. Isn't that simple? What kind of advice can you give in terms of maybe two or three steps that you've seen work really well, people expand and companies expanding in the APJ Region?

Raegan Koryozo  25:15  

Yeah. So, I mean, for me, I'm a big believer that success breeds success. So, before you go and invest usually into a program in a certain region, let's get some wins on the board. Right? Let's understand how also how that markets slightly different from like India to ANZ, for example, again, a different market, you may be a varying maturity levels in North America as APJ. But think about that within a sub region level, how is your business different remains that India, and how is the market, they're different. So, you need to understand those nuances and get some wins on the board.

That will be my advice, I see this now with a few vendors that I look after that very strong presence. And as it no boots on the ground in India, and they want to win business in India, it is a completely different Battlefield, in that they find it super hard to win opportunity, and very transactional, and a lot more reactive in that market versus the names in. And so the big focus for them is let's just get some traction, let's get some wins on the board how we can and before they even invest sales, resources they've written besting in partnership resources, first, to get those first few wins on the ground, build some revenue, and then invest in sales resources on the ground. So, it's very much seen as a bit chicken in the egg, but you need to build get success to start building success. And then same with us, right, it's very hard for me to get a vendor to work with AWS in India, if they don't have any people on the ground.

And if they don't have any wins, wins on the board, our team in India is just not going to value time with everyone, they're going to see them as a very heavy uplift, versus someone that has some wins on the board and are ready to go. Yeah, we're ready to invest.

Des Russell  26:46  

Yeah, I think it's probably like, even just establishing the business is very much you kind of think about the motion of partnering, right? It's, it's their initial waves their quick value, Deborah can uplift from the particular engagement. How can we build on this that success? And then how can we create some repeatability that's, that's sets around that I, in conversations that we have, from a partner elevate point of view, collaborating with vendors and distributors across the globe. There seems to be this seems to be a massive opportunity or growth opportunity in this particular region.

But really, it's the nuances of the go to market which kind of holds people back from reaching that particular success. And then you say, don’t do something north America come to a chair first. That's pretty bold, because what we typically see is we typically see partnership professionals and partnership leaders, taking what they've done in Europe or North America, and trying to kind of position that right in, in this particular in this particular region. And it's hard because there's typically a go and hire one particular person. And then it's right. It's not about understanding the region, as you said, and getting those first ones, it's like, come on, you've got to run and build what we've got in Europe or North America. So, challenging.

Raegan Koryozo  28:17  

I'm really passionate about the APJ region, because I this is my biggest grab to sometimes work for a global Company is somebody who sort of sit back and think what's North America doing? Like, hold on, we can do it here, right, we've got great builders, we've got great initiatives and ingenuity here. So, like, I'm really passionate about APJ. And love seeing us build initiatives. And we've done several days in the last couple of years with our team that have become global initiatives from APJ. And that's something that makes me really, really happy in the morning to say that we're having a global influence. We're not just waiting to be influenced.

Des Russell  28:48  

Exactly, you spoke about the partnering point of view. It's the people, it's the adults. And then the third part is trust, and how you how you execute. So now as much as it is partners building, you know, being relevant and top of mind for you from an AWS point of view. It's also AWS, you know, there's some cool partners that you want to be co selling with is really cool partners that like literally take someone like was at the moment, you know, they just kill him. It's a great article in the Forbes magazine about the founders, but and I know you're trying to establish and you know, big partnership with them in this particular region.

So how do you from an AWS point of view how do you think about your relevance and your value to partners because we often think it's a one-way street, like we often think it's, well, you've got the harvest Skyler or the vendor, you need me to grow your business. So, what have you got for me? But actually, it's not you know, that's you know, this is much How can you be more relevant and valuable to those particular partners? So, do you have any insights as to how you think about it, when you're working with your particular partners to be super relevant to them? Is there any kind of way you think about understanding what they need for you to say you can be really relevant for them? But also, how valuable you are to them also goes up as well.

Raegan Koryozo  30:28  

Yeah, absolutely. Does really, really good question and is actually something I'm really passionate about this, this sort of discussion about the value, we're adding back to our partners. And I think this is relevant not just for technology partners, but also services partners and professional services partners is, and this was a learning I had my first ever face to face meeting I had with a partner, when I joined AWS, I went out to Barangaroo met a local startup there. And I, I got given this massive template of all this historical data or partner performance in a concert.

And to be quite frank, they were very low, like had almost zero coastal winds, no differentiation. And I didn't know how, how worth that trip would be right looking at the historical data. But when I went out there, I met the CEO, the head of sales, and the CEO wasn't his laptop at the time. And he's like, Yeah, I'll be I'll be listening. But, you know, I'm just doing emails, I thought, This guy must not really care what AWS has to say, right? And the first thing I thought to myself I'm gonna open with because I knew extraordinarily little about them. And even very little about our Technology Partnership Program. At times, it was my first meeting. And I said, I'm not here to talk about OBS. I'm here to talk about you. What are you trying to achieve as a business in the next few years? And how do we as AWS help get you that CEO closes a laptop lit and said, Now we're talking?

No one from AWS have asked us that before? Yeah. And I was like, Okay, this is going to shake my entire Technology Partnerships. Narrative, right. When I speak to partners is forget, you know, yeah, specific revenue or technologies. What are you trying to do as a business in this region? Whether you're with or whether you're startup in North Sydney, or Brian guru? What are you trying to do as a business? And how do we as AWS help get you there might be product, it might be going to market? It might be people, it might be even just what are you seeing in market as AWS? Which segments? Should we be prioritising cloud security on that sort of advice, that feedback, coaching, and nurturing, you could say, in a way, and huge trust that I think the rest of it comes, comes later down the line? And so, for me, as a partner, manager, and partnership professionals always been around understanding what business problems not doesn't always have to be technical.

Yeah, what business problems is the vendor slash partner trying to achieve and mapping them backwards, how AWS and how may helps get them there, that is the most important thing is they can believe in the vision they can believe that you really care about getting in there, then that will solve the programmatic, the operational challenges that comes with partnering as well.

Des Russell  32:48  

I love it,  make it real for them. I love their close, close the laptop, because a really simple question, which is, what is it you need? And what is your business all about? It's difficult in a lot of situations, you don't always have these one on one meetings, you know, you sometimes have 50 partner meetings a month, and you can't always give it the right attention. You can always ask the right question.

Raegan Koryozo  33:19  

That partner became successful to does live with us, they did a lot of great they were mentioned that ended up becoming mentioned at reinvent doing a lot of great coastal with us. And that was, again, if I had put my head in the spreadsheet and looked at the historical data, not sat down and understood his vision, then it would that would have never happened. And so that's something I'm also really big proponent of don't just look at historical data, sometimes you need to sit in front of someone and understand their vision, their dreams, where they're going. Yeah, and you might get a different that's a different data point, as well as historical partnership.

Des Russell  33:47  

It's a lag indicator, right? It's not a lead indicator, indicator, it's what they've done, the reality is they could they could have done 2 million, 5 million with you last year. Is that really what they're going to be able to do this particular year? And is it what is that, you know, what help do they need? Do they need help making that the next 5 million? Or do they need help in another area of the business? Absolutely. Super, super critical. And you can have such a level of impact straightaway right? Such as an impact straightaway.

You don't need to ask, Who's your ideal customer? What do you serve, what technology you can really work out whether they're going to be a good fit for what you are trying to do. I'd love to know how do you balance that because you know, you've got goals you've got KPIs OKRs as an as a partnership professional, how do you balance the what you need to be successful? And what they need to be successful? How do you balance that in the relationship and then actually in how you how you engage with them?

Raegan Koryozo  34:56  

This is the one thing that keeps me up at night does because I'm super passionate and I have always felt like my role AWS, I've been my partner's representatives in AWS and not the other way around. So, I intimately care about my partner success. And the reality is not everyone is going to be successful. As we know, not everyone has, does have the differentiation, they think they do, but they don't, or they might not have the right people, or timing might just be wrong. And so that's the biggest, biggest challenge for me is where I invest my time.

And even I'll be quite honest, even transparently, that's probably my biggest weakness is sometimes saying no, to people, even though I sort of know deep down they may not, may not be at the right time for the journey. But the reality is, again, as a professional, we have to prioritise like as a channel and a partnership leader, you do need to prioritise where you where you spend your time. And your energy. And it might be saying no, right, it might be pushing back. And sometimes the customer and partner obsessed thing to do is actually saying No, and it's pushing back and saying, hey, you're not ready, or your value proposition is off, or you need to go back and do this.

That's what a good coach does sometimes to be brutally honest with their partners. Rather than just say yes, and string them along for a ride.

Des Russell  36:07  

You know, a lot of time in partnerships, we say yes, either way. On the partner side, or the vendor side, vendor side, we say yes, because we kind of hoping that at some point, this will come to fruition. On the partner side, we don't say yeah, because we're like, we need this vendor, we need the vendors attention. So, it's really a really glad you brought that because it is it is something that smacks a lot of us in partners, important leadership roles in the face. And that's like, how do we do we let the partner down softly?

Do we just disengage I'm, I'm a firm believer on don't not desync. Don't just keep quiet because that is just That's not cool. erodes trust, erodes trust down the road, down the road, I'm a firm believer in just being super clear on what it is. They are not you know what line they're not meeting in terms of what you need, either from them to be successful, or really where you are being super clear in your particular strategy. And at least give them something to go and do about it. If you might have a partner programme. Learning a pathway that they can go through or, or kind of help just try to help them give them that next particular point that they can go and work on what it is they need to know.

Raegan Koryozo  37:34  

And intent is huge as well. There's like there might be partners that have absolute intent to want to be successful and work together. But again, there may be other factors that just mean you're not going to be successful right now. Right? So, you need to nurture that. And it's clearly other partners that have no intent, right? So, you can be very click up their way, where you're not wasting your time.

But I have a have a bit of a saying as well that I believe every partner is one far away from being a bad partner, you could say a report partner, or one good hire away from being an amazing partner, like people can change businesses and partnerships very quickly. You might have a leader that comes into partner those traditionally been very difficult to work with that all of a sudden is like no, no, we are working with, from my case, AWS and we're going all in and we're doing XYZ that quickly changes the culture of the partner. So again, be very mindful, those relationships don't erode trust exactly what you said. They might not be ready now, but they may be in future.

Des Russell  38:26  

Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, you want to be a driver partner impact. And to do that you really, really need to think about how do you how do you give that partner, that first engagement that first kind of step forward with a partner? How do you kind of make sure that you're aligning around what it is they actually need to be successful? I think that's a really, really clear point. What other points of advice or what other points of opportunity? Can other partnership leaders who want to have who want to be a driver partner a bet? What would you say that they should focus on? Either the early stages or their partner engagements or, actually, as their partner is maturing to revenue generation or grow market share.

Raegan Koryozo  39:18  

I mean, my biggest piece of advice for probably any stage of maturity and partially was get buy in from others around you is you can't be on your own developing partnerships. And in my role, it's really important for me to have buy in from sales leaders, partner sales leaders, Solution Architect leaders, that I need a cohort of an army of people to help me make a partner successful. It's not just me. And then at the end of the day to intimately care about my partners if I happen to move on to other things. If it's all on me, what happens to the partnership, right? Is it going to fall apart?

I need to make sure this scale has repeatability. And there's other people invested and bought in to my partner being successful. At the end of the day. That's how you scale your Roll to run, you can't be involved in everything every opportunity new people bought in, that will help you scale that. And so that's my piece of advice at any level, right? Whether you're a startup is if your startup dealing with an AWS or another vendor is don't just be relying on your alliance lead or your channel manager build relationships with sales leadership, MDS, country managers, scale that out.

And equally the same. Same for you. If you're on the channel, partner side, make sure that any strategy you're building translates to sales, leadership and leaders of the business, you may have your own intentions for your partnership strategy, but the language you're speaking has to translate to real revenue or impact for other people in the business. When you can do that, though, they will jump on board and they will help you drive partnerships, even to the point of for me a big part of when I deal with my partners is what's the partner's business strategy.

But what is the individual strategy? What is my alliance weak counterparts? Goals, KPIs, what do they care about? What motivates them from an individual level? How do I understand some of those other metrics to help me with my role as well?

Des Russell  41:05  

They're super, super, super important to be relevant. Always think about good partner professionals are good, orchestrators. Yeah. Then our orchestrator is proud of words, orchestrator and leverage, those are the two things that come to me, they can orchestrate well, and they can leverage people around them. When you build in a partner team in your team one hard to leverage and hard to orchestrate. But at the same time, if you have that thinking, I think you operate you certainly operate differently.

Raegan Koryozo  41:38  

I remember doing a presentation to my manager, one of the one of the first partners I worked with that has done really, really well with AWS local answer partner. And he's done really well on us. I haven't done well, the army of people supporting is part of done well. And I do a slide from the had me in the middle as part of manager. And I kid you not, there was a PowerPoint slide that had probably 50 names on their resources that were driving them globally. Asset Manager, this is probably only half of them, I can't fit the rest of the names. That's why this part has gone from A to Zed, because of the everyone driving them at certain points of their journey, not just me.

Des Russell  42:10  

Absolutely love it. All right. It's been an absolute awesome conversation. I've loved that. There's so much we could talk about I love your passion for APJ. And in true partnership style, I'm going to throw your handball here, and we're going to do something different on the show. So firstly, are you ready to jump into rock and roll differently? So this is how it goes. I want to introduce the segment because in in the partnerships world, we try and we've got our own taxonomy, and everyone's taxonomy is different. So I just want to get what's on your mind. at a particular point, I'm going to say a couple of words, and I want you to finish that off with one or two words. that's on your mind. Let's go. It's like Jeopardy or something. Okay, cool.

So first one, Partnerships thrive on...

Raegan Koryozo  43:09  


Des Russell  43:12

Partnerships, embody ...

Raegan Koryozo  43:16  

Trust, there's got to be mutual benefits and trust on both sides.

Des Russell  43:20  

Through partnerships, you can...

Raegan Koryozo  43:23  

scale , spark innovation.

Des Russell  43:27

Partnerships succeed through...

Raegan Koryozo  43:30  

I'd say persistence, they don't always work the first time but don't be afraid to fail and experiment.

Des Russell  43:36  

Love it. It's been so good to have you join me. I know you're giving up important time and it wasn't like with Kelly, I had him at the end of the financial. So I really appreciate the time and for you joining the conversation with you today. Thanks so much for your time.

Raegan Koryozo  43:56  

I appreciate it.


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