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Keith Goodwin is an increasingly rare breed in the IT channel: a long-serving worldwide channel chief with not only the respect and financial backing of a tier-one vendor's top executives but also the support -- and trust -- of an exhaustively varied and always-cynical partner base like Cisco's.
So it can't have been easy to keep the ship steady in the seven years Goodwin spent as senior vice president, Cisco Worldwide Partner Organization (WWPO). But Cisco partners told CRN this week that Goodwin's biggest achievement was instilling channel in Cisco's corporate DNA and ensuring partners have a role in any Cisco strategic discussion.
CRN was first to report Monday that Goodwin will retire from Cisco at the end of July, and his successor is Bruce Klein, currently Cisco's senior vice president, U.S. public sector.
Senior Editor Chad Berndtson caught up with Goodwin to chat about his decision, Klein's approach, and why Cisco partners are in good hands.
CRN: So why now, Keith? Why is now the right time to retire?
Goodwin: Well, this is one a lot of thought goes into. I have been thinking about it a lot over the past few years, and it is absolutely about timing. So why now? After seven years leading the Worldwide Partner Organization, a few things come to mind. First of all, I really believe that we have the strongest partner leadership team in the industry with Edison [Peres] and Wendy [Bahr] and Andrew [Sage] and Jim Sherriff and our leaders in Europe and Asia. I just feel that the team is so solid and I have such huge respect for them that part of it is turning it over to that team, while at the same time having a new leader, like Bruce, coming into it and having someone like him available, is fantastic.
Bruce has such a stellar leadership reputation across Cisco. I've actually known Bruce for a lot of years, and his whole approach to the business in terms of his collaborative style and relationship-building, he brings a lot. So the first point is around timing, and with the leadership team, the time was right.
The second point, from a partner perspective, I really feel in the seven years that we have built a strong foundation with our partners, and that our partner metrics -- how we measure the success of our relationship with our partners -- is across the board at an all-time high. We're just coming off our highest-rated Partner Summit ever, so it's always good to go out on top from that perspective.
Finally, for me personally, this is all about the next chapter. I really am retiring. This is my time to travel less, maybe except for some fun travel, and some time to do some more cycling, and some time to spend time with my family and my five grandkids. I even thought about taking a golf lesson, which is something I've never done, and partners who know me know that I would be well served by a golf lesson in my retirement.
CRN: Are you leaving the industry completely? This is a full retirement?
Goodwin:Yes, I am retiring, from Cisco and the industry. Other than the caveat, of course, that I do want to stay connected. I've been involved in the industry for 38 years, and I may join a board or two, and I do some teaching around channels and business and may do some more of that. But I will do all of that in the context of retirement mode with my priorities being the other things I mentioned.
NEXT: Cisco Chief's Successes And Regrets