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Tech Data Hires IBM Vet For New COO Position To Spread Best Practices

Tech Data has nabbed a 32-year IBM stalwart as its first-ever chief operating officer, and brought back a familiar face to lead its global business development efforts.

Tech Data has snagged a 32-year IBM stalwart to serve as its first-ever chief operating officer and has brought back a familiar face to spearhead global business development efforts.

The Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor said new COO Rich Hume will help Tech Data share best sales, logistics and product management practices across all geographies, CEO Bob Dutkowsky told CRN. The distributor's IT functions have been siloed by region, leaving Dutkowsky as the only executive with a comprehensive view of how Tech Data goes to market around the globe.

"I didn't have the time to work with the geographies and share best practices enough," Dutkowsky said. "The world is moving too rapidly, and Tech Data has gotten too big."

[Related: Q&A: Tech Data CEO Talks Ingram-HNA Deal, Blossoming Apple Partnership and Dell-EMC Synergies]

Also, John O'Shea will be returning to Tech Data -- his home from 1997 to 2012 -- to focus on recruiting new vendors to the distributor's line card as vice president of global business development. O'Shea spent the past 3.5 years at MSP Vology, eventually rising to the rank of president.

O'Shea replaces Pete Peterson, who left Tech Data in November to become Brocade's vice president of global channel sales.

Dutkowsky said the addition of a COO position is both a response to how Tech Data has grown over the past decade -- from $20 billion in annual sales to $26.4 billion -- and a reflection of how emerging technologies such as cloud and mobility have made the IT space far more global and far less regional than it used to be.

For the COO role, Dutkowsky said, he was looking for someone who understood Europe, value-added services and the economics of what makes distribution work, and how to differentiate in a business largely centered around picking, packing and shipping.

Dutkowsky said he believed Hume fit the bill perfectly: He knows PCs, servers and services from spending the past 14 months as COO of IBM's $32 billion global technology services business, and he lived in Europe (where Tech Data does 60 percent of its business) while serving as general manager of IBM's $27 billion European operation for three years.

Hume worked directly with Tech Data's competitors and solution provider customers during his nearly four years as IBM's general manager of global business partners. Based on this experience, Dutkowsky plans to task Hume initially with making sure Tech Data is globally responsive to solution provider requests as well as the go-to distributor for vendor partners.

Among broadline distributors, Tech Data had been unique in its lack of a chief operating officer: Dennis Polk has served as Synnex’s COO since 2006, while Paul Read was Ingram Micro’s president and COO from September 2013 until late last month.


Hume's reports will be Joe Quaglia, Tech Data's president for the Americas, and Nestor Cano, Tech Data's president for Europe. Both Quaglia and Cano previously reported directly to Dutkowsky.

For the business development role, Dutkowsky said, Tech Data was looking for someone who could quickly and effectively convey the value of distribution to vendors that might not be familiar with the industry, such as those running born-in-the-cloud companies.

Thanks to O'Shea's time at Tech Data overseeing the HP, networking and product marketing groups, Dutkowsky said he totally understands the dynamics between vendors and distributors.

"He has the perfect skill set, and he jumped over the high bar we set," Dutkowsky said.

Though O'Shea's primary focus will be on enhancing and strengthening Tech Data's offerings, Dutkowsky said, he will also be responsible for some work around mergers and acquisitions.

Rod Bledsoe, a senior network engineer for Holly Hill, Fla.-based ACNS Technologies, said he worked with O'Shea quite a bit during his previous stint with Tech Data, and believes he continues to be a good fit for the distributor.

"He knows the business and he knows the market Tech Data is trying to fill," Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe, however, is cooler to Tech Data’s creation of a COO position, he said, because he worries that an additional layer of oversight might slow things down.

"I just hope the addition of one more C-level officer doesn't gum up the works," Bledsoe said. "I don’t see the value add for Tech Data's customers."

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