VARs Ponder Swainson's Replacement At IBM

An IBM spokesman said that the company will announce Swainson's replacement "shortly," but declined to give a more definitive time frame. Swainson left his position as general manager of worldwide software sales at the Somers, N.Y.-based vendor Tuesday to join Computer Associates International as president and CEO-elect.

Solution providers agreed Swainson's departure is a big blow to IBM and praised CA for its decision. "It's a big loss to IBM's software group and its channels, but I commend CA on their choice," said Harvey Najim, CEO of Sirius Computer Solutions, an IBM global solution provider in San Antonio.

Swainson leaves behind a legacy of true customer advocacy at IBM, skills that will come in handy in his new role leading the beleaguered CA, said Peter Watts, CEO of Group Intelligence, a New York-based collaboration services firm that worked with the outgoing executive to build IBM's global customer community site.

"John had been instrumental in organizing the whole company to innovate from the customer in through to IBM," Watts said. "Working with customers to implement their dreams is what IBM is really good at, and I think John's been a driving force behind a lot of initiatives like that in the software group."

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Though it certainly will be tough to replace Swainson, solution providers speculated about a host of candidates who worked for the departing executive that might be tapped. Possible successors include Steve Cowley, vice president of worldwide sales for WebSphere, and Tom Inman, a WebSphere vice president and Swainson protg, partners said.

The IBM spokesman would not specify if there were plans to search outside the company for a replacement or if IBM would hire internally. Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBM's global software business, is acting as interim software sales chief until a successor is named.