NEC Grabs HP, IBM Channel Veteran To Run Direct Sales4:00 PM EST Tue. Nov. 06, 2012
Longtime channel executive Kevin Hooper, well-known from his years at Hewlett-Packard and IBM, has taken a top direct sales role at NEC Corporation of America, CRN has learned.
Hooper is senior vice president of NEC's Enterprise Platform Solutions business, a newly created role at what represents the largest of the $37 billion Japanese company's American business units. Hooper reports into Masaaki Nakajima, executive vice president, Enterprise Solutions, NEC Corporation of America.
Reached by CRN Tuesday, Hooper says he'll oversee a roughly 400-person headcount and have profit-and-loss responsibility for the business, which includes solutions and services tied to NEC's IP telephony, unified communications (UC), software-defined networking (SDN) and cloud infrastructure strategies.
[Related: 30 Notable IT Executive Moves: October 2012]
It's not a channel sales role, per se, but part of Hooper's mission is to foster deeper collaboration between NEC's direct and indirect sales teams, he said.
"Given my history and background, that's one of the arrows I have in my quiver," Hooper told CRN. "But I've always thought the customer comes first and that the actual route to market is more of a convenience. They're going to buy the way they want to buy, at the end of the day."
Hooper left HP in October after a five-year stint, most recently as vice president and general manager, HP Networking. He made his channel bones, however, in several different sales and channel roles IBM, where at the time of his departure for HP in 2007 he was vice president, worldwide business partner strategy.
The Enterprise Platform Solutions role will put him in front of some of NEC's most important enterprise, health care and government customers, Hooper said. While NEC's presence in the North America UC market is limited, the company's global scope helps its stability, and its UC platform, rebranded Univerge 3C this year, is an open-standards system that offers the full range of UC functions.
In an uncertain economy, customers want choice and better options for how to utilize their physical and virtual IT assets, Hooper argued.
"NEC's advantage is the focus it has on soft infrastructure, and the ability it has to leverage its experience globally," Hooper said. "We're not the No. 1 player, but when you are No. 1 in the marketplace, you're more in a defensive mode. NEC has a key set of assets it can utilize to build out its business."
NEXT: NEC's SDN Strategy For Long-Term Profitability
NEC is also cultivating a presence in SDN and the market for virtualized networking. Its efforts so far include the OpenFlow-based ProgrammableFlow technology it launched as a set of switch, controller and management products last year, partly developed with IBM.
"SDN is absolutely a key part of the strategy," Hooper said. "By focusing on open standards, you are focusing on giving customers the freedom to make choices about how they manage their infrastructure. When you're acquiring proprietary protocols, well, we've seen many different instances in the past few years where it leads you down a path to short-term gains but not long-term profitability. SDN is a buzzword right now, but a buzzword building off the open standards work that was happening in the rest of the IT business and which was sorely needed in networking."
Hooper said he was proud of the work done at HP, particularly in HP Networking, which has posted modest growth this year even as other HP enterprise segments have declined in revenue. But the NEC opportunity is a chance worth taking, he said.
"I was extremely happy at HP over the five years, but when you have an opportunity like this one come up in your career, you have to at least evaluate it," Hooper said. "It's the right move at the right time."
PUBLISHED NOV. 6, 2012