Open for business:’s new partnerships team is pleased to welcome Kristian Györkös, Vice President of Alliances and Partnerships, and Cathleen Nelson, Senior Director of Global Alliances, to the company. Together they form the new partnerships team, which will further grow Solo’s organizational relationships and influence. 

They recently discussed their trajectories that led them to Solo, the impact they expect to have, and their overall industry outlook for 2023 and beyond. 

Q: How does your unique experience make you a right fit for this role?

Kristian: I started my career at Microsoft doing everything from technical sales roles to alliances over the span of 15 years. Microsoft was a great school because we did almost everything with partners.  

Then I joined my first startup Apigee pre-IPO, learning whether partnerships can really apply to startups, and when. As Apigee progressed, we went to IPO, and it was so great to see an S-1 featuring our Accenture relationship as one of the key pillars of the value of the company.  

I worked at a couple of other startups, where I met Cathleen. Then I spent close to 4 years at Kong, essentially building the partnerships from ground up to where they are today, which is a pretty sizable partner business in the startup world.

Cathleen: I started my career off in enterprise sales – before the emergence of robust partner ecosystems. As I was primarily responsible for a handful of strategic accounts, it was really important for me to know who was selling what to whom and to learn who had great relationships with executives that were driving strategic initiatives within these organizations. Partnering was a natural motion for me. 

I also spent a few years working in the channel, where I focused on partner success by delivering programs that impact partner profitability resulting in driving revenue at scale for my company as well as the channel partner.

Recently, I have been working with start-ups such as Datastax, JFrog, and Securiti, helping build scalable partnerships with the Big Three: Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Driving the right strategies aligned to co-build, co-market, and co-sell allows companies to differentiate their offerings in the cloud and take advantage of GTM programs that can have a significant impact on top-line revenue.

Q: Why

Kristian: I’ve been in the API management space from the start. I really see that there will be convergence of all the use cases and I believe that application networking is the place where that’s going to happen. 

I strongly believe that the only way Solo can become the application networking platform of choice is to build the best partner ecosystem. That is the best way we can differentiate and jointly deliver value to customers.

Cathleen: Having worked with cloud partners over the last few years, I have seen first-hand the accelerated adoption of Kubernetes, as well as the complexity of working with Kubernetes at scale especially in multi-cloud and hybrid environments. Solo is the right technology out there that can help solve these problems at a massive scale. 

Q: We haven’t had a partners/alliances team in the past at What impact do you expect this new team to have on the company?

Cathleen: The impact is going to be very important to the organization, especially in the cloud as we meet customers where they’re working everyday. Our top priority is to ensure that our products are easy to adopt in the cloud through integrations with key native services, easy-to-use deployment tools, SaaS offerings, and cloud marketplace availability.

Number two, we will work with our partners on developing best practices for cloud native architectures, how to scale microservices and really driving digital transformation in key industries such as financial services, telecom, retail, high-tech etc.

Finally, given the economic unknowns we face, we know that developers are going to continue to lean toward open source, which in many cases will be tied to large, mission-critical, business-critical initiatives. We want to ensure that these customers are successful and can work with Solo alongside their most valued partners in delivering outcomes to the business. We will do this through robust enablement programs, meaningful incentives, and innovative solution builds that allow customers to do more with less.

Kristian: Of course there’s a very important revenue component to help us as an organization to reach our escape velocity toward IPO. That is definitely one key aspect. 

We also want to increase the value of the core Solo products with the innovation the ecosystem can bring. Integrating with our partner solutions will open new use cases and vertical markets. We also want to enable an army of highly qualified professionals that can really accelerate deployment and the use of our platform, and, most importantly, help customers to achieve better outcomes.

We know that partner experience drives customer experience. As we grow our partner business, we’re going to see a very positive effect both to our customers and to our ecosystem as well as a growth as a company.

Q: We have had a lot of new announcements, including products and people, for example the new CTO who joins us from Google. How does that make you feel about the future of

Cathleen: When you get the kind of talent that Solo is attracting today, it’s hard to not get super excited, because it validates that you’re not the only one that sees the opportunity. The folks that are part of Solo – they’re the best in the business. Being able to work alongside them, we can see that tremendous opportunity to get to velocity very, very quickly. 

Kristian: My perspective is very simple: you need to assemble the best team if you want to be the industry leader in your segment. It’s great confirmation for Solo that Louis Ryan joined the company to continue his Istio journey. We have some of the best people in the industry to lead our product, innovation, and everything else. We are all excited to execute on that potential.

Q: What challenges do you see getting started, or in the industry in general?

Kristian: First, it’s all about just building awareness of Solo as the destination for prospective partners. We have a lot of interest already, yet we need to assure we can provide great partner experience. We have limited resources and need to build the program first. Nevertheless we are clear on the overall strategy and execution. That’s why we are starting with cloud partners, because they can really amplify Solo’s value proposition and help us with the rest of the partner ecosystem.

Cathleen: I look at it from a perspective that we saw challenges that some people didn’t even know they have. Some of the biggest challenges that we have to do as a company is that we have to be evangelists, which is not always easy, because it’s hard to monetize evangelism in the early stages. 

Until you’re creating a particular need, that’s when people spend the money for it to be solved. I think we can do this very effectively, meeting the customers where they’re at, before these challenges become so big that they become a problem that costs companies millions of dollars because they didn’t get it right.

Q: What are you excited about in the industry in general? 

Kristian: Artificial intelligence going into infrastructure type of problems that Solo is trying to solve will be one of the trends we’re going to see in the coming years. Right now the main buzz is about AI generated content we all see as consumers. But if you think about managing 10,000 microservices, no matter how good your platform is, and how well designed your dashboards are, you need some machine intelligence underneath to manage such complexity. I am excited to see how we push the boundaries in this area. 

Cathleen: I do think that the AI piece of it is going to be a very exciting area because, just looking at technologies like OpenAI, it is going to disrupt the Boolean search. It’s completely changing. And it’s powerful. And there’s a lot of things that can be done to solve big, hairy problems that would take humans hours and hours and days and days, if not years to solve. 

So I do think that there’s some great opportunity with AI. But you know, if we could do it responsibly and ethically, that’s going to be the biggest challenge. I am confident that we will be seeing more and more  AI use cases solving  big business challenges.

Q: How should partners engage with the new team?

Cathleen: Growing our partnerships is one way we’re helping organizations simplify how they secure and scale customer experiences in the cloud. To learn more about partnering with, send an email to

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