Life in the Channel: Okta's Nick Miles

The company's director of Field Alliances on his naval past, making sure the company is a tight ship and his passion for drones
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Nick Miles

What does an average day look like for you?

In the Channel world, there’s no average day. The daily work differs from partner to partner and from region to region. That said, my day tends to be split between internal calls with our growing EMEA team, problem solving, and managing partner activities, which these days can vary from presentations to creating orders.

The job covers a number of regions alongside the UK, so I tend to log on around 7am, which gives me a good head-start and crossover time. As our HQ is in San Francisco, my day normally ends around 8pm. While it seems like a long day, I make time to squeeze in a gym session and ensure I have a good work-life balance.

How did you go from working in the Navy to getting involved in the Channel and how easy/ difficult was the transition?

I served 14 years in the Royal Navy specialising in communications. When I was leaving, I decided to pursue my interest in IT as my second career, but back then it was all about Microsoft’s NT4 and Novell operating systems. I decided to take the plunge and do a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification in NT4 as part of my resettlement.

I then worked for a VAR in Yorkshire for a number of years, before moving into the vendor world, where I started managing and building sales engineering teams in the Single Sign-On (SSO) and Identity Access Management (IAM) space.

I always wanted to move to a commercial role and really like the idea of channel management. Since I started my IT career as a reseller, I understood the commercial pressures and the way it worked, but it was my technical knowledge of the SaaS IAM market that helped me communicate with distributors and resellers. In particular, I was able to articulate how a solution like Okta’s fits into the way partners work and how they can make money from partnering with us.

It probably goes without saying that this shift in role had its ups-and-downs – after all, I was entering a new environment of Channel management and experiencing the pressures of a rapidly growing and innovative SaaS company. Ultimately, it has been my passion and integrity, as well as my open and straightforward approach to people and issues that’s helped me adapt to the role. I don’t always get it right, but nobody does and if the job was easy, I simply wouldn’t do it.

What are the best and worst aspects of your role?

The best part of my role is being a part of a company that cares about its people, whether that’s employees or customers, and knowing that we are building something great within the EMEA market.

It’s hard to pinpoint any negative aspect of my job, but, I think with all large companies, there’s always a certain degree of internal or external politics to navigate. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, which doesn’t always mix well with politics. That’s been part of the learning experience in adapting to my environment.

What are you looking forwards to the most in the next 12 months?

At Okta, we are about to move into the next phase of our partner evolution and being a key member of the project is exciting. We are designing a new partner program that at its foundation will show how any SaaS channel and technology partner can add value to each other, and also reward the partners who are committed to SaaS in regards to sales, delivery and customer success.

We don’t want to just cut and paste from a typical partner programme. Instead, we’re looking at all the different ways we work with partners and the benefits we can offer each other. We’ll be announcing this new partnership program at our Partner Summit at Oktane18 in May. Above all else, I am most looking forward to seeing the growth of the company in EMEA, and leading a team of driven and passionate people towards our vision and goals.

Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

I spend a considerable amount of time with my family. Being with my daughters is by far my favorite hobby. On the less sentimental side, I have just taken my PfCO commercial drone pilot permit, as I feel that the drone sector will be one of the next big things, and am helping a number of veterans set up a drone commercial surveying business.

How can people best get in touch with you?

While I’m not yet on Twitter, LinkedIn or email (nick.miles@okta.com) are usually the best ways to contact me. I’m always excited to speak and meet with new people, so do get in touch and start a conversation! 

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