Sandy Hogan On Leaving VMware, Joining SADA And Google Cloud

VMware’s former global channel chief, Sandy Hogan, talks to CRN about her decision to leave VMware to join SADA Systems, one of Google Cloud’s top partners in North America.

SADA Nabs VMware’s Channel Leader Sandy Hogan

VMware’s former worldwide channel leader Sandy Hogan is bullish about joining one of Google Cloud’s largest and fastest-growing partners: Los Angeles-based SADA Systems.

“The opportunity is so massive for SADA,” said Hogan, who is set to become SADA’s first-ever global chief revenue officer, in an interview with CRN.

“SADA has invested in unleashing the true value of Google Cloud. Their ability to truly bring that end-to-end value really differentiates them,” said Hogan. “The foundation is unprecedented in what they’ve created.”

Sandy Hogan was recently VMware’s global channel leader as senior vice president of worldwide commercial and partner sales.

She led VMware’s $10 billion VMware partner ecosystem and its commercial business with a focus on elevating both the partner and customer experience, as well as helping partners achieve new lines of businesses.

“My dream is to have this amazing continuous culture, but also have complete competence and capability in every market that we go to. Sandy’s global experience is perfectly attuned to help achieve that,” SADA’s CEO Tony Safoian told CRN.

Sandy Hogan’s VMware, Cisco History

Hogan officially left the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company earlier this month.

Her departure comes as semiconductor specialist Broadcom is set to acquire VMware for $61 billion, with many VMware employees and channel partners expressing concerns about the future of the $12 billion virtualization pioneer and software superstar.

“I think it’s important to note that I didn’t leave VMware, I’m coming to SADA,” said Hogan. “When you have multiple conversations with Tony Safoian, it’s really hard not to be excited about the potential.”

Hogan won numerous awards for her stewardship of VMware’s channel during her more than two-year tenure including appearing on CRN lists for Most Influential Channel Chiefs, Top 100 Executives, Women of the Channel Power 100.

In addition to working at VMware, Rackspace and HERE Technologies, she worked for Cisco for 15 years from 2002 to 2017. She held various go-to-market and transformation executive roles at Cisco aimed at helping customers improve business outcomes.

Hogan officially starts her new CRO position at SADA on July 18, with global sales and go-to-market responsibilities.

In an interview with CRN, Hogan explains her departure from VMware, the value she’ll bring to SADA and what she likes most about Google Cloud.

Talk about leaving VMware to join a top Google Cloud channel partner?

VMware is a tremendous organization. I think it’s important to note that I didn’t leave VMware, I’m coming to SADA.

Because of the opportunity, it was just unique timing. When you have multiple conversations with [CEO] Tony [Safoian], it’s really hard not to be excited about the potential.

But what I would also say what led me to going to SADA is the very investments that I made in VMware.

The culture at VMware, the people, the investment in the ecosystem and what I have learned from the partners who we work with across VMware—actually led me to see just the tremendous potential in SADA.

I have not seen a level of transformation across the partner ecosystem than what I’ve seen in the last two years. It’s been tremendous.

The partners who are getting it and making the investments are the ones who are leading the way. So I really looked at it from that lens which helped me really get excited about a company like SADA.

But without question, I will miss the tremendous people that I’ve had an opportunity to work with at VMware who I would call my friends.

Bear in mind as well with what SADA is doing.

Google Cloud is a major partner of VMware’s. So VMware will play an important role in really filling out the multi-cloud journey that SADA can help Google with. So I think that that’s important to note.

What do you like about Google Cloud right now?

So clearly, I have a lot to learn still on that front, right? Because coming from VMware, VMware is the multi-cloud leader in supporting all clouds. But there’s a few areas that stand out to me.

One is the level of innovation and the speed at innovation that Google is investing in.

I’ve heard Tony say that really stuck out to me is: when you look at a number of the different platforms, Google leads with customers who are really looking to innovate and truly drive transformation, versus just switching platforms. That’s a passion point for me. So the ability to learn and connect that, I think is a tremendous opportunity.

I would also add from a solutions standpoint, if you look at some of my background from Cisco to HERE Technologies, which was a location-based platform company that actually competed with Google Cloud—when you think about cloud, edge, and all of the new areas, [Google] has Google Maps, Google Workspace, Google Cloud, etc.

The ability to bring an end-to-end solution offerings, and the expansion of ISVs and other partners who are building on top of their platform—the uniqueness is how SADA can bring all of that together and help customers accelerate at a faster pace. Meaning, accelerated time to value.

So I’m just so excited to roll up my sleeves and dive in to really learning more about how we can expand that even further.

What do you hope to bring to the table for SADA?

There’s a personal and professional aspect to this.

Because if I look over the last two decades of where I’ve been really passionate and really focused: one is really leading with an outcome-based solution approach, and really bringing the ecosystem together.

So how SADA can create potentially a new category in how it creates and scales customer solutions; bring new selling capabilities via business value selling; connecting the partner aspects that are so important in this cloud economy today—that’s something that I’ve been passionate about even from my Cisco days.

So really being able to create that with Tony and the team is incredibly exciting because it continues to put the customer right at the center of it.

Where else to you hope to elevate SADA?

To really bring in hyper growth.

SADA has already been on this hyper growth curve, but doing it in ways that are really bringing scale—whether that is looking at the existing thousands of customers that SADA already has and looking at growing that customer base, looking at new ways to continue to bring in and accelerate new customer growth.

Also looking at bringing new customer segments, new markets, and new routes to market. Obviously SADA’s already early on the path with the international expansion. So that’s going to be a heavy focus.

I would also say what I hope to bring that can be incredibly unique is, there’s still really a need in the market for bringing customer-for-life value as an operating model.

So that’s everything from how you do end-to-end, defining the customer engagement model, the business value approach selling model, and all of the best in class of skills and enablement but at a scale level. And in a way that really brings the best of the best to what the customer is looking for.

What are the main reasons you joined SADA?

One thing that really stood out to me when Tony and I had the unique opportunity to meet a few months back.

One, is meeting a CEO like Tony Safoian (pictured) who starts off the conversation talking about building a ‘forever company.’

That stood out to me because so many of the trends and conversations over the last couple of years is about building this customer for life approach in this ecosystem now. And in the early stages of where we are with cloud—value creation becomes the differentiation in that customer experience and customer for life.

I work with many companies, and we have a tremendous partner ecosystem across VMware, but to kick-off a conversation like that made me incredibly intrigued and interested to learn and understand what SADA was doing.

Another reason I would say, is the importance of really bringing the value differentiation around specialization. SADA has invested in unleashing the true value of Google Cloud. Their ability to truly bring that end-to-end value really differentiates them. The foundation is unprecedented in what they’ve created.

What most excites you about your future with SADA?

I feel like a kid ready for the first day of school where I have my backpack packed with all my new school supplies, ready to engage. I feel honored and privileged to have this opportunity.

The culture and talent at SADA is unmatched. Every conversation that I’ve had is about the commitment to the customer and the commitment to delivering that value is something that really differentiates SADA.

Tony and I have talked about how the opportunity is so massive for SADA.

The key is going to be that we focus, that we’re clear on our path, that we’re very intentional, and that we are building upon that fabulous culture that SADA has already built, because that will be a continued differentiator.

So being a part of that, starting next week, gets me really excited.