Palo Alto Networks’ Karl Soderlund on Challenging Complacency

Karl Soderlund, senior vice president of North America ecosystems at Palo Alto Networks, joins Larry Walsh to talk about what it takes for channel leadership and teams to continuously challenge themselves to look for improvements and better ways of doing things.

Technology is a driving force behind the transformation of the way businesses operate. One important aspect of this transformation is the channel, which vendors use to get their products to market through partners. Staying ahead of the competition and meeting customers’ evolving expectations require channel managers and teams to constantly seek ways to improve their strategies and operations.

Getting teams to pursue continuous improvement isn’t always easy. Some channel teams may become complacent, content with mediocre performance as long as it meets their basic needs. Others may adopt “best practices” and conform to standard structures and performance levels rather than trying new approaches. Some channel teams may avoid change due to perceived obstacles or cultural resistance to new ideas.

Implementing change is always a challenge. Questioning the status quo is even harder. It takes vision, planning, analytical skills, talented individuals, valuable insights, strong leadership, and, above all, courage. Companies that are willing to commit to continuous improvement, even when they’re already achieving notable success, tend to stay ahead of the competition and are better equipped to weather market shifts.

One such company that has consistently demonstrated a commitment to challenging the status quo, identifying and solving problems, and innovating its channel programs is Palo Alto Networks. With one of the most effective and well-structured channel programs in the industry, the vendor may seem to have little room for improvement, yet its channel leadership and management team are always seeking ways to enhance their programs, processes, and partner relationships.

Karl Soderlund, senior vice president of North America ecosystems at Palo Alto Networks, is an instrumental figure in the company’s culture of continuous improvement and challenging the status quo. In this episode of Changing Channels, Soderlund discusses with host Larry Walsh the importance of not settling for mediocrity and not being afraid of change when it comes to channel strategies and programs.


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