Overseeing the IT channel is quite the endeavor. It’s all about building a program that fosters success for both technology partners and their customers. Taking this on in EMEA is especially challenging, where there are 115 countries and 17 non-countries, with 200 languages spoken throughout the region.
But for Anika Registe, director of channel, EMEA at Axonius, the challenge was happily accepted. She became the first EMEA channel leader for the Axonius Correlated Partner Program in 2020. Since then, Anika’s guided the program through operational, privacy, and cultural requirements unique to the EMEA region.
And her work paid off. Anika was named to CRN’s 2023 Women of the Channel list — and for the second consecutive year. This esteemed list honors the incredible accomplishments of female leaders in the IT channel, whose vision, expertise, and contributions make an impact on the industry every day.
She sat down with us to discuss this honor, her approach to channel and EMEA, women working in channel, and more. Snippets from our conversation are included below.
Kathleen Ohlson: Congratulations on making CRN's Women of the Channel list for the second consecutive year. Can you walk us through some of your achievements in the last 12 months that landed you on the list?
Anika Registe: We’re really being quite mindful of how we build the partner ecosystem, specifically the type of partners that we're looking for. Some channel strategies sign everybody up, but I’ve asked my team to not do that. I've asked my team to be very conscious of the types of customers that we're looking for, and the prospects and verticals that we're targeting.
Recruiting partners has changed in the last 5 to 10 years. Now partners want to build longer term relationships with their vendors and use those to build them with their customers. It's not only about the margin that they make on the sale — it’s what else partners can wrap around. This is what has helped us to grow the ecosystem around our professional services. I think the prospect of using our technology and wrapping services around it is really attractive.
I think we have really grown the landscape in EMEA exponentially. We're targeting partners who work with prospects that are relevant for us. And I think that's a massive difference to some of the other programs that I've been involved with.
Ohlson: What does it mean for you to make the list for a second time?
Registe: I feel very honored. You know the one thing people don't really know about me is I'm quite a private person. I don't really have a massive online presence, and I keep myself very much to myself. So to be recognized for your work when you've got your head down, your buds in, and you're just doing your thing is incredibly humbling. It gives me a little bit of an opportunity to pat myself on the back and that’s not something that I’m very good at. You know you’re always your own harshest critic. I feel like the work that I do in Axonius is seen, but this award gives me wider recognition of that. It makes your soul sing.
Ohlson: Can you talk a little bit about your priorities for the rest of the year?
Registe: One of our first priorities is launching a managed service program. A lot of our partners are either dipping their toes into the managed services arena, or are already running this as a major business stream. Managed services are a key way for modern partners to become really embedded within their customer base. This is especially important for our specialist partners as it is a great way for them to create a bigger impact for their customers even when they do not always have a large footprint themselves.
One of the things I'm really keen on is reciprocity. I feel that the partners in EMEA have absolutely smashed it in finding us opportunities, and I feel that we win bigger, better for longer when everybody pulls their weight. We really hold both sides accountable to our partnerships, and being held accountable starts with yourself. I know that we need to be doing a better job of referring opportunities to the channel.
Ohlson: Why is the channel important to Axonius and our position in EMEA?
Registe: When working across EMEA, the business culture and language vary massively from country to country, region to region. You need to be very mindful that they want to sell and talk to people who speak their language. This is where channel partners become key, and if you get the approach to the channel wrong, it’s very hard to come back from that. So you need to always keep the partner and the channel in the forefront of your mind and think about the benefits for them. Because if you mess it up, that's it. You don't really get a second chance.
Ohlson: You've been involved in channel for quite some time. What are some of the biggest changes you've seen?
Registe: Some of the biggest changes are the moves to marketplace selling like we see with AWS, and the shift towards managed services as a priority business line for the majority of partners. Before very few partners offered services, whereas now most of our prospective partners want this offering.
I think it's a lot harder to get a partner to sign up with you now. People are really tightening up. People want to know about the returns they can expect ahead of time, and they're not as open to taking on new vendors and technologies to see how things go. They really want to know that we have real opportunities for them. They want referrals. They want leads. They have a checklist for signing new vendors now, whereas before they never did.
Ohlson: While there has certainly been some progress over the last few years, 53% of women who work in channel believe the work environment has improved in recent years. How can the channel continue to fuel diversity and inclusion and gain more female representation?
Registe: There are more women in channel now, which is nice to see. There are also more ethnic minorities in general and a number in channel, as well.I'd like to see more ethnic minorities and more women in senior positions and more technical roles going forward.
I think I'm slightly biased, because from my perspective, Axonius has been the first place that I can really genuinely be myself. There's always been a work persona separate from my persona outside, and now both personas are a bit closer together now. I’d like to see more companies providing a work environment that makes this possible for all.
I think we need to have internship programs that work with universities, and we'll put those sorts of people on our radar. We have internships that are committed to ensuring that between 25% and 50% of the people that they take are from a female background. It's not about men taking a step back — it's about women stepping up to the same level.
I think we need to be highlighting some of the job roles that women are doing in our company, and I think we need to really be marketing that and saying, ‘Look, we want to spotlight this person because we want to show you that this is a possibility for you’. Let's put it on mediums that 18 and 19 year olds are looking at. Let's not just put it on Linkedin, because I don't know any 18 year old that has a LinkedIn account. You need to think about it from how do I get that person thinking early that this career is a possibility for them.
Ohlson: What’s some advice you would offer to women entering tech or channel, or wanting to progress in their careers in the channel?
Registe: I would advise that being open about your boundaries, your moral code, and your integrity is something that has served me very well. People buy from people, and honesty and trust really build and drive the relationships you need to succeed in the channel.