Gilroy Relinquishes HP Channel Post

Vendor's channel chief moves to worldwide SMB job

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Just 73 days into his 100-day plan to improve Hewlett-Packard's channel execution, Kevin Gilroy late Monday relinquished his position as head of the vendor's Solution Partner Organization (SPO) to head HP's worldwide SMB sales effort.

Serving as vice president and general manager of the SPO since HP combined its enterprise and commercial channels into one organization May 1, Gilroy will become senior vice president of worldwide SMB segment operations, reporting to Peter Blackmore, executive vice president of HP's Customer Solutions Group. Gilroy replaces John Brennan, who left the company to become senior vice president of corporate development at Adobe Systems.

Mike Larson, senior vice president and general manager for HP's Personal Systems Group for the Americas, said Scott Anderson, vice president of partner operations, will replace Gilroy on an interim basis until a permanent replacement can be found. HP would look inside and outside the company to find the best candidate for the job, Larson said.

Solution providers were surprised by Gilroy's move and said it creates some uncertainty about HP's channel strategy.

"I'm shocked," said Mike Cox, president and CEO of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Logicalis, one of HP's largest enterprise solution providers. "I know Kevin Gilroy, and I had a lot of hope for the partners and for HP with him in that position. Now we'll have to wait and see what's next."

Added Don Richie, president of Sequel Data Systems, an Austin, Texas-based HP enterprise solution provider, "I'm thrilled for Kevin [Gilroy], but this is one more sign of instability in HP's channel. HP's eHip [enterprise products distribution program] is broke, and this is the last thing we need at this point. I'm concerned that this will be a setback to the momentum Kevin has been building to fix [eHip]."

Solution providers said they were especially caught off guard by Gilroy's departure because it came during a 12-city road tour in which Gilroy and other HP channel managers met with solution providers to outline changes and enhancements to the vendor's PartnerOne channel program.

"It's positive for resellers in the SMB space because Kevin [Gilroy] is into the partner focus as opposed to the direct model," said Geoffrey Lilien, president of Lilien Systems, an HP enterprise solution provider based in Mill Valley, Calif. "But I'm surprised to hear that Kevin is leaving after the big plans that's he's instigated."

Gilroy said HP's channel strategy and commitment to partners wouldn't change because of his departure. "This isn't about Kevin Gilroy," he said of HP's channel commitment. "There is no need for recrimination by our channel partners. We have a plan of record [that has been approved by HP senior management], and we have a rock solid [channel] team in place."

Gilroy said he took the SMB post because he relished the challenge of having worldwide responsibility in one of HP's strongest business segments.

"This is good news and bad news," HP's Larson said. "SMB is the largest channel play in the company, and we see this as a natural fit for Kevin [Gilroy]. Cleary, the timing on this is not optimal. But he has a solid senior staff, and we will ensure that we get the right person to continue the work done by Kevin and his team."

Added Jim McDonnell, senior vice president for HP's SPO, "With all of the things that we rolled out on May 1, this doesn't change the strategy or the structure for SPO or our commitment to the channel."

Still, solution providers said the constant changes in HP's channel organization are wearing thin. When HP merged with Compaq two years ago, the company initially launched a dual channel organization, with Gilroy heading the commercial side and Dan Vertrees leading the enterprise partners. That organization was ultimately scrapped in favor of the single channel organization last May headed by Gilroy.

With Gilroy gone, solution providers fear another major setback for the vendor's channel relationships.

"If there was an indication that Gilroy was going to move up [to another position], why didn't they make the changes [before May 1]?" Richie said. "How much change can we take?"

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