TD Synnex CEO Rich Hume Hints New COO Could Be Heir Apparent
‘I think it’s fair to read Patrick [Zammit’s] appointment to COO as an endorsement that he is a very good candidate for the CEO role sometime in the future. But you know, he’s got to demonstrate his abilities within the role. And to be very clear, I don’t anticipate going anywhere anytime soon. … If you think about my journey at Tech Data, I came in as the COO and then ultimately ascended to the CEO role. But it was a two-year time frame that I had come through that transition,’ says TD Synnex CEO Rich Hume.
TD Synnex’s move Thursday to unveil the appointment of Patrick Zammit, currently president of the company’s EMEA business, as its first COO could be seen in isolation as a move to take some of the operating pressure off of CEO Rich Hume, letting him focus on larger strategic planning.
Or it could be the first in a potential grooming of a potential successor to the CEO role if and when Hume decides to look for new opportunities.
Hume, who sat down for a discussion with CRN Thursday about the elevation of Zammit to COO as well as the decision by longtime TD Synnex executive Michael Urban to leave the company by March 1 of next year, said that Zammit could indeed someday be CEO.
“I think it’s fair to read Patrick’s appointment to COO as an endorsement that he is a very good candidate for the CEO role sometime in the future,” Hume told CRN. “But you know, he’s got to demonstrate his abilities within the role. And to be very clear, I don’t anticipate going anywhere anytime soon.”
This wouldn’t be the first time that happened with the distributor. Before TD Synnex was formed by the late 2021 merger of Tech Data and Synnex, Hume served three-plus years as Tech Data CEO. Prior to that, however, he spent two years as the company’s COO.
“If you think about my journey at Tech Data, I came in as the COO and then ultimately ascended to the CEO role,” he said. “But it was a two-year time frame that I had come through that transition.”
Hume also said that Michael Urban’s planned departure on March 1 of next year gives Urban time to work with Zammit on the latter’s transition to the COO role as well as look at the executive bench to see what if any changes may be needed.
Here is an in-depth look at what is happening at the top executive level at TD Synnex.
When was the decision made to have Patrick Zammit (pictured) to become chief operating officer?
One of the board’s primary responsibilities is around succession planning for senior leadership. And so there’s been a continuous dialogue relative to our executives and what are the right moves for them coming forward. So I wouldn’t put any specific date on it, but rather it’s a process that we’ve come through over a longer period of time.
And you anticipated my next question, which is about succession. Does bringing Patrick over as chief operating officer make him heir apparent as TD Synnex CEO? Not that I’m implying anything about your role.
Yes. Again, the board was very prescriptive and thorough relative to thinking about succession. And I think it’s fair to read Patrick’s appointment to COO as an endorsement that he is a very good candidate for the CEO role sometime in the future. But you know, he’s got to demonstrate his abilities within the role. And to be very clear, I don’t anticipate going anywhere anytime soon.
I think that it is certainly an endorsement as he becomes the COO to be a very strong candidate for the CEO role. But don’t lose the end of that. I don’t intend to go anywhere anytime soon.
Now maybe if I could embellish a little bit. If you think about my journey at Tech Data, I came in as the COO and then ultimately ascended to the CEO role. But it was a two-year time frame that I had come through that transition.
Patrick is TD Synnex’s first COO, right?
Yes, for TD Synnex. But at Tech Data, I was the COO before I was the CEO. But yes, he’s the first COO for TD Synnex.
So what’s the push behind TD Synnex getting a COO now?
Well, when we think about our business, it’s quite large. We have a very big global footprint. And bringing a COO on to take on some of the operational and strategic responsibilities gives me the opportunity to focus more broadly on our company and our strategy and our strategic business model.
What are some of the things that you’re looking at in terms of the strategy?
What I would tell you is I believe that the strategy we currently have is bold and the right strategy for the future. This just gives the opportunity for myself to focus on additional refinement and making sure that we’re accelerating our way into the future, continuing to accelerate.
Any particular strategic focuses for 2024?
Focus on high-growth technologies is our strategy. Cloud, analytics, AI, cybersecurity and hyperscale infrastructure.
Will Patrick be moving to the U.S.?
Yes, on Jan. 1 he is going to move to the U.S. He’ll spend the overwhelming majority of his time here in the U.S., especially in his first year.
Michael Urban has been with TD Synnex, and before that Tech Data, for years, and has been a longtime fixture with the channel partners. Why is he leaving?
So a couple of things. First of all, Michael’s time from Tech Data to Synnex to TD Synnex has spanned 12 years in total. As we think about the recent past with TD Synnex, Michael has made incredible contributions. He has delivered a very successful merger in the Americas. He’s driven a high-growth business strategy in the Americas and has outpaced the market in the time that we’ve been together as TD Synnex. He has just been a major contributor to TD Synnex, and prior to that Synnex and Tech Data. Michael felt as if it was a good time for him to transition out and pursue other opportunities. To be clear, Michael loves the channel. He loves the entire IT environment. But he just thought it was time for him to think about pursuing other interests that he might have for the future.
So is Michael (pictured) leaving on his own accord?
Yes. And he’s extremely supportive of the transition. He has committed to help Patrick and is going to be with us through March 1, at which point he thinks most of the knowledge sharing will be complete. And then he’ll transition out at that time.
Will there be a new president of Americas at TD Synnex after Michael leaves?
So Patrick and Michael have the opportunity over the next 90 days to sort out the organization structure. And I would anticipate that they would do that. But to be very, very clear, Peter Larocque [president of TD Synnex North America] leads North America. And Otavio Lazarini Barbosa [senior vice president of TD Synnex Latin America] leads Latin America. And those two leaders are going to continue to lead those major segments. But Patrick and Michael will work together to define the rest of the organization structure. We are blessed to have a very deep bench in our organization structure. Beyond Peter, we we’ve got a great team in North America. And beyond Otavio, we have a very experienced team in Latin America as well.
Are the changes going on with Michael and Patrick an isolated executive change at TD Synnex? Or is this part of an ongoing look at executives across the board at TD Synnex?
We have a very comprehensive career planning process, all the way from the bottom to the top of the organization. Certainly we engage at my level and at the board level on the more senior part of our team and always have ongoing discussions on what I would call our executive resource and what their career paths look like.