Adrian Jones, former HP Americas Channel Chief and one-time Everything Channel Executive of the Year, has left his post as senior vice president of Enterprise Storage Servers and Networking (ESSN) for HP Asia Pacific.
Jones, who drove a channel renaissance at HP during his tenure as HP Americas Channel Chief from March 2007-October 2009, informed a number of solution provider partners of his plans to leave the $126 billion company.
Jones could not be reached for comment. HP, for its part, in a prepared statement said that Jones "has made a personal decision to leave HP to spend more time with his family and pursue new opportunities."
HP said Wolfgang Wittmer, formerly senior vice president and general manager for ESSN Europe Middle East, Africa (EMEA), will take on the ESSN Asia Pacific leadership role on an interim basis effective immediately.
Jones' departure has sparked speculation that the former HP Americas Channel Chief may be joining his old boss, former HP CEO Mark Hurd, who took a job as president of Oracle last September. At press time, Oracle had not responded to calls for comment.
Partners say one of Jones' strengths' as channel chief was his tight relationship with Hurd and the senior HP executive team.
Jones, in fact, drove an unprecedented level of sales engagement between HP solution providers and Hurd and the top executives running HP's business units.
Hurd himself conducted more than 50 solution provider roundtables in the course of a year that put him side by side with partners in front of hundreds of customers.
John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations for Denali Advanced Integration, one of HP's top national enterprise partners headquartered in Redmond, Wash., said he was "saddened" to hear about Jones' departure.
"We are talking about one of the giants in the channel industry," said Convery. "This man in a short period of time made a big impact."
One of Jones' strengths, said Convery, was the partner CIO roundtables which led to a close working relationship between HP's top executives and enterprise partners in the field. "That opened up a dialogue at an extremely high level," Convery said. "We had a one-on-one relationship with Hurd and executives like Todd Bradley (HP Executive Vice President of HP's Personal Systems Group). Adrian opened that door."
Next: A New Channel Organization Under DiFranco"He was a great communicator," said Convery of Jones. "He always kept his finger on the pulse (of the channel). And even when he was passing on bad news he would do it with dignity. I loved the man."
That said, Convery emphasized that Denali is committed to HP and praised the work being done by HP Vice President and General Manager Solution Partners Organization Stephen DiFranco, who replaced Jones.
"We are really pleased with the job that Stephen has done with the channel," said Convery. "He has matured tremendously in his time working with the channel. When Adrian ran the channel it was across all the (HP) business units. Now it is a different job."
Jones, in fact, was directly responsible for HP's channel strategy in all of HP's business units. DiFranco oversees all aspects of channel sales, marketing and account management for HP Personal Systems Group and Printing Businesses and oversees HP's PartnerOne channel program. But HP's enterprise sales organization has its own channel boss, Frank Rauch, Vice President of ESSN Channel Sales. And HP's powerful Technology Services Group and Software Group have their own leaders responsible for driving channel sales for those business units.
"It is now more management by committee than when Adrian ran the channel organization," said Convery."Stephen is working very hard to at least have one channel voice across all the HP business units. That is not always easy."
In the wake of Hurd's departure last year, the HP Channel team reassured partners that it is committed to the popular Executive Connections program that was established by Jones to "connect HP channel partners and their customers with senior HP executives." In an email blast to partners, DiFranco and five other HP executives promised that HP would continue the Executive Connections channel initiative.
Convery was not the only solution provider disappointed that Jones was leaving the company.
Rick Chernick, the CEO of Camera Corner Connecting Point, Green Bay, Wisc., one of HP's top SMB partners, a member of HP's SMB Partner Council and a friend of Jones, said the former channel chief's departure is like losing a superstar football player on a winning team.
"You build a relationship with someone like this and you hate to see them go," said Chernick. "This business is all about long-term relationships and trusting people, knowing you can count on each other. We had that trust with him. He loves the channel and he loves partners. This comes as a great disappointment to me not to have him with HP. It hurts. Adrian is my friend. That does not change."
Still Chernick stressed that he and Camera Corner Connecting Point remain committed to HP. "I am very loyal to HP," he said. "We have a tremendously strong relationship and it will continue. It would take truly an act of God for Rick Chernick to stop being loyal to HP."
Rick Whiting contributed to this article