My favourite interview from 2009

I usually try to post my favourite interview of the year before the year ends but I took a three-and-a-half week sabbatical over Christmas and basically shut my brain off. So I will divulge my favourite interview now. Ok, in a little while. Please allow me to explain.

In 2009, I had a lot of celebrity-type interviews such as Dr. David Suzuki, Brian Colangelo of the Toronto Raptors, TV star Mike Holmes and I enjoyed each one. With most celebrity interviews you really have to push hard to get them. Let’s face it I don’t think these people get anything from talking to a reporter whose expertise is the IT channel.

How I got Dr. Suzuki was purely by chance. He actually sat down next to me at a Hitachi Data Systems conference. I have to say I was paralyzed by fame. I wrote about it on Twitter and got one tweet back asking me to ask Dr. Suzuki on how to get rid of fruit flies. I did not want to do it but succumbed to my audience’s wishes. Dr. Suzuki, in fact, wrote a thesis on fruit flies.

I also interviewed a lot of business leaders such as Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Labs in Moscow. That was really exciting and Kasperksy’s great because he is very opinionated.

I want to mention Jim Estill and the two part video interview I did with him when he left Synnex for Nu Horizons. He is no-longer there as you know, but it was a great recap of his great career to-date in the channel.

I always enjoy talking to Rick Reid, president of Tech Data Canada. To me Reid has such a presence in this industry. He is very well respected throughout the industry and when he speaks it shows how much he truly cares for his employees, customers and partners.

I can say the same thing for Michael Murphy of Symantec Canada. CDN did a two part video interview with Murphy at the Symantec Canada offices. He knew that I was leaving on a road trip to see the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Buffalo Bills in Pittsburgh and he made sure to get the interview done in one take.

Some of the new people I interviewed this year such as Todd Thibodeaux, president of CompTIA, Luc Villeneuve, president of NCR Canada, Nitin Kawale, president of Cisco Canada and Dave DeWalt, CEO of McAfee were all very interesting people to talk to.

One of the hardest executives to pin down for an interview was Donna Wittmann, the new Cisco Canada channel chief. The interview was well worth the wait and I was glad she was open about addressing her time at Dell, a predominantly direct company, and what it would mean moving from that situation over to Cisco, which embraces channel partners.

Later that week while I was interviewing Microsoft Canada’s latest channel chief Corinne Sharp I learned that Wittmann and Sharp are good friends, except in business I guess.

One of the coolest people to interview is Harry Zarek, the CEO and founder of Compugen. He just seams to be having way too much fun for it to be actual work. Funny story about the Zarek interview was that it took place on a dirt field in North Toronto. Compugen was doing a ground breaking ceremony for its new home. They had a huge wooden sign on the property with a picture of what the building would look like when done. Well, it was a windy day and the sign fell over creating a huge dust storm that nearly engulfed me. Needless to say but I sent my cleaning bill to Zarek (kidding)!

Well I’ve named a lot of people but haven’t revealed who my favourite interview for 2009. I can’t decide between Kelly Bizeau, president of MarketWorks or Allison Watson, Microsoft’s worldwide channel chief.

I really love Bizeau’s passion for the channel in the National Capital Region. She put on an event called the Federal IT 911 to warn the channel about possible procurement reform that could negatively impact their business. There were many vendors willing to sponsor this event for her. But instead she paid for it out of her own pocket. That’s how much she cares about this community. It is a privilege to know someone like Kelly.

As for Watson it seams as if every time I get a chance to talk to her something strange happens such as the time when we were the only two English speaking people at an International press function attended by 40 reporters.

I interviewed Watson at the Microsoft Partner Conference in New Orleans and I remember being told I could only ask her two questions and not to go over my allotment. Well, I couldn’t help myself and asked more. Watson was gracious enough to answer them all for me. But what I really liked about the interview was that she expressed how great Canadian solution providers are and how much they mean to her. I cannot tell you how many solution providers who watched the video came up to me to say how they really appreciated that message from Watson.

I want to thank all the people I interviewed in 2009. I know that some of these chats were not easy on some people. I can appreciate the situation believe me. Thanks again to you all.
Two quick hits before I go. Jody Zedor, former HP Canada executive and friend to CDN has started working for Blue Range Technology in Oakville, Ont., as a VP of sales and business development. We wish Zedor the very best.
And, Adaptec Inc. has named Jared Peters its new vice president of sales.

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