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Microsoft's Worldwide Services Chief Steps Down

Just as it prepares to release its long-awaited rules of engagement, the chief of Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS), Robert McDowell, is stepping down from his current post to assume a new role.

Microsoft Consulting Services

McDowell, Microsoft's vice president of worldwide services, a 12-year veteran of the company who built its consulting arm, will be replaced by former IBM Global Services executive Michael Sinneck, Microsoft confirmed.

McDowell is staying on with MCS but will be taking on a more customer-focused role, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.

Sinneck has long ties with Microsoft. He has served as vice president of Enterprise Services for Microsoft Technologies at IBM Global Services and has focused his efforts on Windows 2000 adoption.

This is Microsoft's second major executive pickup from IBM. Last year, the software giant scooped up IBM software veteran Cliff Reeves to serve as vice president for Windows.Net Server Division.

Sources said Orlando Ayala, Microsoft's group vice president of worldwide sales, marketing and services, informed Microsoft employees of McDowell's departure from his high-ranking post. "Orlando sent out [an e-mail to the field," said one source familiar with the events.

Another Microsoft insider said McDowell's departure is a loss, but that the new executive is up to the task.

"I feel great on both fronts. Bob McDowell has evangelized an expanded vision for MCS and Microsoft in offering real business solutions to companies. I can think of no one who has so completely energized MCS. Bob will continue doing what he loves best; interacting with customer executives," said the Microsoft insider familiar with the executive change. "I'm also impressed with Mike Sinneck who I know to be a great strategic leader, a strong tactician and someone who understands and is committed to partnerships. His portfolio of experiences gives me great confidence in our efforts to serve our customers in concert with our partners."

One source said McDowell is stepping down for family reasons.

It is not known if McDowell's departure stems from widely reported channel conflicts with MCS over the past year or conflicts with colleagues over the rules of engagement, which are being fine-tuned by a group of Microsoft executives.

As Microsoft was pushing into the enterprise space more aggressively, McDowell, an enterprise guru, was focused on building up the consulting services arm of the company, as well as its product support services.

Despite the growing conflicts with solution providers over the past year, McDowell was adamant that the conflicts were isolated and insisted that MCS had no directive to poach business from channel partners.

In an interview in October, McDowell said the new rules of engagement, dubbed the "partner playbook," would be released in December and would put greater definition on the role of MCS and alleviate some of the concerns of partners. The rules are due to be released within the next two weeks, one Microsoft spokeswoman said on Monday.

McDowell joined Microsoft in 1990 to establish MCS and grew that organization to more than 3,000 people located in more than 40 countries. Prior to joining Microsoft, McDowell served for seven years as a partner with Ernst and Young, where he founded and managed the Strategic Business Systems practice.

McDowell's departure comes just two months after Microsoft channel chief Ian Rogoff stepped down from that post as part of a reorganization of Microsoft's partner program.

Rogoff, who is also expected to take on another role within Microsoft, had served as vice president of Microsoft's worldwide partner group since March 2000. His new assignment has not yet been announced publicly. Rogoff had been on sabbatical for several months this summer, and his absence was highly visible following conflicts between solution providers and the company's growing MCS arm in the field.

Rogoff's replacement, Rosa Garcia, general manager of partner sales and marketing, will oversee solution providers as part of the company's more decentralized partner program but also heads up Microsoft's worldwide partner program. Garcia and McDowell both sit on the seven-member committee developing Microsoft's rules of engagement.

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