By Dawinderpal Sahota
Channel Middle East talks to Tolga Altinordu, the man recruited to skipper Microsoft's newly-formed OEM division.
Last year, Microsoft Gulf announced its big summer signing in Tolga Altinordu, the man recruited to skipper the vendor's newly-formed OEM division. Since his arrival, Altinordu has made his presence felt by restructuring the division's distribution strategy and tackling the channel's illegal software traders. Channel Middle East thought it was time to ‘get to know' Tolga Altinordu...
What is your career history to date?
I have been in channel and sales management for the past 14 years, and part of the Microsoft family for over eight years. My adventure with the company started in 1999 with Microsoft Turkey where I held multiple management roles in the SMB division. I then joined the Middle East and Africa headquarters and led the OEM channel and distribution and SMB divisions across the region until August 2006. That's when I joined Microsoft Gulf as the OEM Director to lead the newly formed OEM division.
What do you enjoy most about working in the Middle East IT market?
It's an extremely dynamic and fast growing market; one of the most dynamic markets in the world, and I admire the fact that relationships create strong pillars in business. I like the agility and fast pace of doing business. One also has room to experience new and creative ideas to capture the maximum potential of the market.
What do you dislike most about working in the Middle East IT market?
The fact that at the moment it is a short-term, volume driven market; strategic or long-term investments are not prioritised. We need to strike a balance between short-term and the long-term as well as quality versus quantity to ensure sustained growth at the same pace while improving partner profitability and customer experience.
What is the proudest moment of your career to date?
When I first joined the company, I was able to launch the first national PC campaign in Turkey that made a big impact to the entire IT ecosystem in the country by pulling key IT vendors, finance, media and the channel together. This effort has been recognised and adopted by many other Microsoft subsidiaries around the world. That accomplishment brought my first award at a worldwide level and it is memorable since it was my first year at Microsoft.
How would you describe your management style?
I don't compromise on people and try very hard until I hire the best talent. I focus on creating a supportive team atmosphere where empowerment, accountability and collaboration are the main drivers for each team member. Passion, result orientation, transparency and open communication are some of the non-negotiables.
What is the most valuable business lesson you have learned?
To use one's ears and mouth proportionally, to be a better listener and incorporate the feedback into the business. Don't compromise on people and the quality of work or service. Be open minded and innovative and take calculated risks.
What are your top tips for the channel for the next 12 months?
Firstly, channel partners need to capitalise on the retail opportunity and capture the big consumer momentum. Secondly, mobility and smart devices, particularly Windows Mobile, is growing tremendously. Channel partners need to position themselves in this area with regards to sales, support, services and application development.
How do you like to relax outside of the work environment?
I spend quality time with my family, time flies especially when I play with my daughter. I'm particularly fond of football but I also don't miss any opportunity if there is a quality basketball or volleyball game. I try to finish a book every week. I also like to explore new places and cultures; travelling is a passion for me and my family. Exploring new and exciting real estate projects in Dubai has become another hobby for me.