Partners: Tierney Departure Big Loss For Cisco Channel


The departure of Luanne Tierney from Cisco's channel executive team is a big loss for the networking titan, said Cisco VARs, who pointed to her relationships, marketing skills and respect among Cisco's top brass as things Cisco will definitely miss.

Tierney Thursday was confirmed as the new vice president, global partner marketing, at Cisco rival Juniper. Up until this month, she had been vice president of marketing for Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organization, responsible for Cisco partner marketing initiatives on a global basis and the driving force behind some of the vendor's most important partner-centric marketing resources, including Cisco Partner Marketing Central.

She was also the host and organizer of Cisco Partner Velocity, an annual conference focused on helping partners learn to market themselves more effectively. At the latest installment of Cisco Partner Velocity, which took place in Barcelona in December 2010, Tierney stressed to Cisco partners that ignoring social media, video, mobile applications and CRM would be perilous to their marketing efforts.

Partners told CRN her absence will be felt.

"I was surprised and disappointed to hear," said Kent MacDonald, vice president, business development at Long View Systems, a Calgary-based solution provider. "She's been very instrumental in my experience. Cisco stood out among its peers with their leadership with marketing in the channel. She's been phenomenal at driving that."

MacDonald said Tierney had strong lieutenants in the channels marketing organization and that he didn't expect any lack of continuity in the Cisco ranks. But part of what made Tierney successful was her respect among Cisco leaders.

"I know she had the ear and mind share at a very senior level within Cisco," he said. "Her passion and take-no-prisoners attitude with regard to 'get this done' were there. Her challenge to the market was to get our message out and help partners make a difference with their messaging. I'm anxious to see Cisco's go-forward plan. I'll deeply miss Luanne for her contributions, as well as as a friend."

Other VARs echoed MacDonald's sentiments about how effective Tierney was as a partner motivator.

"Luanne was a tremendous resource for partners and we'll certainly miss her," said Bob Cagnazzi, CEO of BlueWater Communications Group, a New York-based solution provider. "I am confident, however, that Cisco will continue the innovative programs that Luanne was involved in and continue to focus on helping their partners grow."

Bob Olwig, vice president of corporate business development at World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based solution provider, said it wasn't hard to see why Juniper recruited her.

"I consider Luanne one of the best technology marketing leaders in the industry, and I can see why Juniper would want her to lead their worldwide organization," said Olwig.

Partner Velocity was a good example of her strengths, he said.

"Her core strength, from the strong Cisco heritage, was her intensity and focus on making channel partners successful in their marketing efforts," said Olwig.

Partners who were close to Tierney said they didn't have any inkling of her being unhappy at Cisco. One partner suggested she found a new, greater challenge at Juniper.

"Don't understate the fact that she knows a lot about the inner workings of the Cisco worldwide channel structure," said the solution provider, who asked not to be identified. "She's going to be a huge asset to Juniper, especially now that Juniper is getting aggressive."

Tierney was one of several high-profile executive appointments made by Juniper this week. Also new to Juniper are Brad Brooks, who was named its new vice president of worldwide enterprise marketing and solutions, and Emilio Umeoka, now Juniper's senior vice president, worldwide partners.

Brooks and Umeoka are both Microsoft veterans; Brooks was most recently vice president of Windows Consumer Marketing and Product Management, while Umeoka was president of Microsoft Asia-Pacific.