Title: Senior Vice President, Worldwide Commercial and Partner Organization, VMware
Base of operations: Chicago
Time at VMware: 1.5 years
What was your childhood like?
My family is 100% Serbian. My mom and dad migrated to the U.S. when my mom was 7-months pregnant with me. I spent a lot of my days after school helping my parents with English and helping translate for my dad’s general contracting business.
Watching my family have to be all-in just to survive, to provide a life and a living for each other, taught me the value of working hard to achieve a goal—any goal. Working smart matters, but it’s about your commitment toward whatever it is you want to accomplish. Nothing is unachievable.
There will always be cards stacked against you. There are always reasons you can come up with why something can’t work. Won’t work. That’s not in my DNA. It must work. My upbringing cemented in me the belief in “choice.” You choose your narrative and you live by it.
What lessons did you learn from the pandemic and how has that shaped your leadership style in a post-pandemic world?
To manage the stress and complexity of the last year, I put more discipline around workouts and allotted time in the early morning to focus on self. It was incredibly rewarding to have the home time with my teenage daughter, especially since she recently left for college. We made more time for family meals and binged shows together. I also got back into golf. I actually believe you can learn everything you need to know about a person in 18 holes, and it’s been a joy.
Professionally, my entire VMware experience was, until recently, completely virtual, which removed the barriers of location and how we work together. That allowed me to expand my reach. I spoke with more partners than I ever have, and the insights I gleaned have been invaluable as we make the move to multi-cloud. In the recent past, organizations traditionally have had boundaries or silos. I firmly believe in breaking down those boundaries, those real or perceived silos, and bringing teams together to execute.
In a post-pandemic world, now that travel restrictions have loosened somewhat, I’m using the lessons of the last year—both personally and professionally—to drive closer collaboration across our organization and with our partners, always focusing on reducing friction and making the VMware Partner experience memorable.
What advice do you have for fellow professionals seeking to achieve career success like yours?
For people seeking new opportunities or new ways to look at their career, start first with approaching your role differently versus just doing the job itself. Regardless of the role or job, there’s always an opportunity to solve for the bigger problem. For me, that means building relationships based on your common passion for solving that big problem. I think that’s the window of opportunity, because jobs can be changed and roles can be created to support that passion or bigger business need.
What brought you to VMware?
The strategy—it's incredible how well-positioned VMware is to impact our customers, the industry and the entire ecosystem.
The opportunity to transform—I have thrived by helping transform organizations and having various roles spanning all GTM functions; seeing the complexity and challenges and converting it into “what’s possible” is so exciting. The people—enough said. Some of the most amazing people to work with are at VMware.
You often say, “Partner first.” What does that mean for you?
We’ve really put the partner at the helm of our strategy. And when we talk about “partner first” or “partner led,” that is about integrating everything from product development to advisory boards to the way we embed partner feedback into our company culture. We’ve built a new mission statement: “Unleash the power of connected ecosystems to create customer-for-life value.” It not just VMware solving our customers’ problems. It’s leveraging the skills and capabilities of this massive ecosystem.
Only VMware partners have the capabilities and expertise to serve as their customers’ trusted advisors in all things multi-cloud, including true multi-cloud flexibility and the insights to become “cloud smart.” To show our joint customers the complete VMware value proposition, we must expand and enhance our relationships with partners—so that together we can help customers achieve their outcomes.
What trends are you seeing across the Partner ecosystem and how is this benefiting partners?
Ecosystems are agents of change, even more so now. Every partner’s business model looks different today than it did 12 months ago—and will look different again 12 months from now. The emergence of multi-cloud and XaaS offerings, as well as the advent of software subscription buying models, have transformed the dynamics of technology ecosystems. In turn, ecosystems are now leading the multi-cloud customer transformation.
Not too long ago, partners had distinct roles across the lifecycle (such as value-added resellers and distributors reselling, and systems integrators implementing and installing solutions). Today, we recognize that partners may have multiple business models to focus on “outcomes as a service,” and VMware is committed to supporting them as they evolve.
The competitive reality is that ecosystems have moved away from resale and transactional business models toward roles that influence customer decision-making and drive their consumption of cloud services, in addition to deploying and implementing solutions. However, this widespread shift is also creating new business opportunities for partners. In this influence-deploy-consume framework, new entrants like cloud service providers have gained importance in the partner ecosystem, and existing players have been compelled to build new capabilities, such as managed services offerings.