Zscaler Boosts Partner Push With Hire Of Channel Veteran Christine McElduff

Zscaler has hired longtime channel leader Christine McElduff from Palo Alto Networks to help spearhead the cybersecurity vendor’s expanding partner efforts, the company told CRN exclusively.

McElduff, who most recently had spent 11 years at Palo Alto Networks, joined Zscaler as its new vice president for Americas partner and alliances sales, effective Monday. The role includes responsibility for partners in the U.S., Canada and Latin America.

McElduff will serve as a key leader on the team helmed by Zscaler Channel Chief Karl Soderlund, with a focus on engaging with partners as well as crafting and driving the security service edge vendor’s channel strategy. In March, Soderlund joined Zscaler from rival vendor Palo Alto Networks, where McElduff had been a member of Soderlund’s organization.

“She understands the intricacies of the indirect motion and she is, hands-down, one of the best strategic operators I’ve ever seen,” Soderlund said in an interview with CRN.

The hire comes as zero trust security specialist Zscaler continues to deepen its reliance on partners, he said, which represents “a bit of a pivot” from the vendor’s channel approach in the past.

“We’re leaning in to our channel community like never before,” Soderlund said. “Partners are taking center stage in our global go-to-market [strategy].”

The position that McElduff has filled had been vacant since the departure of John Tavares in late October, according to Soderlund.

McElduff had been with Palo Alto Networks since 2012, when she joined as a channel account manager. She moved up through a series of positions before being named senior director for the company’s Americas channel organization in 2021.

In a statement, Palo Alto Networks said of McElduff’s departure: “We thank her for her significant contributions over the past 11 years and wish her well in her future endeavors.”

Prior to joining Palo Alto Networks, McElduff held positions at vendors including Riverbed Technology and Check Point.

Partner Perspective

At Myriad360, No. 163 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500, the arrival of McElduff at Zscaler is a strong motivator for the New York-based company to expand its work with the vendor, said Myriad360 Founder and CEO Andy Fisher.

During her time at Palo Alto Networks, “Christine has been a fantastic champion of the channel and champion of Myriad over many years, and has opened a lot of doors for us,” Fisher said.

In addition to helping to generally “cut through the clutter” — and at times, do so on a deal-by-deal basis — McElduff has excelled at bringing highly relevant data into the mix, according to Fisher.

This has included reports on sales pipelines and deal closures, all segmented by product line, he said. Having the data to reflect back upon where and how they’ve been successful with a vendor “enables us to be much more successful as we look ahead,” Fisher said.

McElduff “knows how to build trust, and she knows how to support channel partners so that they can be successful. And that’s really what it’s all about,” he said. “Having Christine over there is likely going to make a big difference for us, in terms of our relationship with Zscaler.”

Ultimately, hiring Soderlund and now McElduff “says a lot about their intentions around having a thriving channel,” Fisher said. “Those are people I would hire if I wanted to build a channel.”

‘Good Progress’

In late November, Zscaler Founder and CEO Jay Chaudhry credited the growing efforts with channel partners as a key factor in the company’s latest quarterly results, which beat analyst estimates on both revenue and earnings.

“We’re seeing very good progress” with reseller partners right now, Chaudhry said during the company’s quarterly call with analysts, characterizing Zscaler’s sales efforts as centered around “working side-by-side with our partners.”

“Almost all of our business [goes through] channel,” except for “a few” customers that insist on going direct with the vendor, he said.

‘One Of The Best’

As Zscaler looks to continue increasing its business through the channel, McElduff’s skills and experience will provide a massive boost to the effort, Soderlund said.

Without a doubt, McElduff stands out as the type of channel operator who “gets into the details,” he said.

Additionally, “she understands how to advocate for the partner and advocate for our sales team at the same time, and there’s a lot of finesse to do that,” Soderlund said.

All in all, McElduff is the ideal channel leader to “come in and understand all of these different routes to market, understand how to hire and engage a team, bring value to the partners and actually drive the business north,” he said.

“It is about engaging with the partners — but it’s also about driving a strategy and executing to a strategy,” Soderlund said. “I think Christine is one of the best in the industry to do that.”

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