In the latest of our ‘Meet the 2022 Shortlisters’ series, CRN catches up with Laura Haldane, partner marketing consultant UKI at VMware (pictured), to discuss face to face events, hybrid working and how the vendor helps its staff take time off to decompress and recharge. VMware is shortlisted in the Best Company to Work For category
How has your business evolved over the past year? Has the pandemic changed how you plan for the future and how you view and execute sales & marketing strategies?
The pandemic really encouraged our sales and marketing teams to think more strategically about how we work with our partners. The sales and marketing team decided that we should fund all marketing campaigns at 100 per cent, meaning all co-branded activities that were pre-approved by VMware were fully reimbursed to the partner. The pandemic has also changed how we plan for the future. By encouraging our partners to maintain a hybrid approach when it comes to F2F events, we are able to capture an audience that traditionally wouldn't have been able to digest the content delivered in-person.
With many firms insisting staff return to the office for at least part of the week since the pandemic ended, how is your company operating in 2022? Is it a mix of homeworking and office working? Or fully office based?
The pandemic heightened awareness of the benefits of hybrid working. In UK and Ireland, we have offices for teams to come together a collaborate in-person, but with the pandemic, we recognise that home offices have become places of business, and every employee location became a workplace.
VMware recognises that when employees have more choice in where they work and live, their job satisfaction increases, which boosts loyalty and retention and increases business success, efficiency and morale.
The majority of our UK and Ireland workforce now have the choice to return to offices fully, a few times a week, or not at all. The flexibility lies with the individual and VMware's IT infrastructure fully supports this. With tools like Zoom, WorkspaceONE, Microsoft Teams and Office 365, most of our day-to-day responsibilities can be completed from home.
How do you keep your staff motivated? Do you have any special incentives/schemes that they take part in?
VMware motivates staff by offering each full-time colleague four "Take a Break" days, that can be used whenever they wish throughout the year to switch off and "take a break" from work. Allowing staff time to decompress, and re-charge is critical. VMware also offers great holiday benefits, whereby you can buy/sell holidays and also transfer up to 5 days over from the end of the calendar year to the following year if you haven't already used them. Once a quarter, VMware also has an EPIC day, which is a company-wide shut down. Again, this gives colleagues time to switch off, spend time with family/friends and be more present in their lives outside of work.
Certain teams within the business are eligible for commission and bonus schemes. For example in Partner Marketing we have an annual bonus scheme, whereby if the company performs well and we hit our marketing targets, we will receive a bonus. In addition, when a full-time colleague has been working at VMware for 1 year, they get access to the Take 1 Program.
This gives them $5000 USD to spend on further learning, development courses, degree programs and much more. This allows staff to upskill and polish their skillset, be it an Excel Advanced training course, or a Chartered Institute of Marketing Qualification. Everyone is given the flexibility to choose how they wish to spend the funds if it's for professional development. This can also include language courses and certificates from top Universities globally.
How have you managed to stay close to your partners and customers over the past year?
As mentioned below, we held our flagship partner event virtually last year and this year, which allowed us to bring together our partner community online for training, news and fun - including a live streamed music artist and some fun online games. We also have held our flagship partner and customer event "VMworld" virtually over the last two years, bringing together our partners and customers for learning and networking.
What have been some of the biggest challenges for the channel in the past year in your opinion?
Maintaining a sense of community with our partners has been a challenge. The VMware Channel team really get a buzz off of seeing our partners face-to-face. We did our best to bring partners together virtually at our flagship partner event called "EMPOWER" to help keep them enabled and excited on all things VMware. We would normally host this event in-person, but by hosting it virtually we are able to engage and entice partners with more content
What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
We are looking forward to welcoming our partners and customers to VMware Explore Europe - that is replacing the VMworld events we used to have. This will be a face-to-face event held in Barcelona, with elements of the content being made available virtually, so a wider audience can join us.