Blue Coat Americas Channel Chief Departs3:55 PM EST Thu. May. 24, 2012
The top Americas channel executive for Blue Coat Systems has left the company, CRN has learned.
Laurie Usewicz, vice president of Americas channel sales, recently resigned from Blue Coat following two years in the role. Reached by CRN, Usewicz confirmed her exit but declined further comment.
Blue Coat declined to comment on Usewicz's departure or a potential replacement, citing a company policy about not confirming executive moves that haven't been formally announced.
Much has changed in the past year for Blue Coat, which was recently taken private for $1.3 billion by an investor group led by Thoma Bravo only a few months after changing CEOs amid an earnings shortfall.
Throughout that period, its channel investment -- Blue Coat sells 100 percent through solution providers -- has remained steady, even with changes to its executive structure. Last year, Blue Coat de-centralized its global channel management in favor of regional leadership, ousting Jim Harold, its former vice president, worldwide channel sales (and now vice president, global channel sales at SafeNet). Blue Coat does still have a global marketing group for channels headed by Michele Hayes, senior director, global channel marketing.
Usewicz joined Blue Coat as Americas channel sales chief in June 2010, following 14 years at distributor Westcon Group. After the announcement of Blue Coat's acquisition in December, Usewicz and other Blue Coat executives assured partners that there would be no deviation in the company's channel focus.
Blue Coat solution providers that had been advised of Usewicz's transition saluted the work she did at the company.
"Laurie is great. She understands channels and drove the program to help partners and Blue Coat's interests in an optimal way," said Luis Palacio, senior director of vendor relations for FishNet Security, an Overland Park, Kan.-based solution provider. "It's been a win/win."
"She's going to be missed," said Pat Grillo, president and CEO of Atrion Communication Resources, a Branchburg, N.J.-based solution provider. "She was good because she was honest. If she or Blue Coat couldn't get something done for you, they'd tell you. It wasn't just the usual lip service of 'oh we're looking into that, we'll talk about that.'"
NEXT: Blue Coat Execs Plans To Replace Usewicz
Blue Coat executives, including Phil Labas, director of channel sales, west, and Eric Cross, vice president, Americas field operations, mentioned Usewicz's departure during a meeting with Blue Coat advisory board partners Thursday, according to solution providers who were on the call.
Those executives did indicate they'd replace her in the role, though they did not name a successor.
"I'd like to see someone experienced, much like Laurie, who knows the industry and is connected with the advisory council members," FishNet's Palacio said. "I'd prefer not to see a scenario, for example, 'We've got a great management guy,' but it's someone who doesn't have our industry's channel experience or relationships. We'd like to see an executive from within the industry."
Blue Coat CEO Greg Clark, who replaced ousted former chief executive Mike Borman last summer, said last week that Blue Coat would continue to "aggressively" expand its executive team. Among Clark's new lieutenants are IBM veteran Venkat Raghavan, who was named Blue Coat's senior vice president, research and development, earlier this month.
Grillo agreed that Blue Coat's channel strategy has been consistent even with the substantial executive turnover in the past two years.
"They're one of the few companies that really listens and comes back to you based on your feedback," he said. "Here's hoping that's going to continue."
"Blue Coat is one of those companies that had a couple of bumps along the way while the program got sorted out, but now have a good channel program and they know how to protect the partners who are doing the work," added Palacio. "We need to see that maintained by someone who gets that."