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Sudden Exit: TD Synnex Community Execs Kinlaw, Lee Are Out

Joseph F. Kovar, Steven Burke

Two well-respected channel veterans, Sammy Kinlaw and Chun Lee, are leaving TD Synnex as part of a restructuring that brings the distributor’s partner communities under the purview of its sales team.

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Two highly respected TD Synnex executives that oversaw the distributor’s North America CommunitySolv partner community organization, Senior Vice President Sammy Kinlaw and Vice President Chun Lee, have left the company as part of a restructuring that moves oversight of the communities from the marketing team to the sales team.

Both Kinlaw [pictured, left], a 29-year channel veteran who joined Tech Data two years ago ahead of the TD Synnex merger, and Lee, an 18-year channel veteran who joined Tech Data three years ago, have been lauded for their commitment and advocacy on behalf of solution providers.

Kinlaw, who has developed tight relationships with partners at both TD Synnex and in previous roles as a channel chief for Lenovo and Lexmark, was senior vice president of sales communities for North America for TD Synnex, overseeing three partner communities for the distributor: TechSelect, Varnex and Stellr.

[Related: TD Synnex CEO Rich Hume: ‘We’re Investing In The Foundational Technologies For Digital Transformation’]

Lee, who also has developed strong bonds with partners at both TD Synnex and Lenovo, was vice president of the TD Synnex CommunitySolv organization, with a focus on making it the “the most valued member community” for partners and vendors. 

New Community Leadership At TD Synnex

Under the restructuring, Kaye McMillan, vice president of sales development, will lead TD Synnex’s Communities team going forward as vice president of partner communities and sales development.

“To be quite frank, bringing the communities into the sales organization puts more accountability into this so that we create sales growth for partners and stay focused on behalf of our partners,” said McMillan, a 24-year TD Synnex veteran who has worked closely for many years with Tech Select partners, in an interview with CRN. “Our sales leadership team and our sales executives are being held accountable for the success and growth of the communities overall.”

TD Synnex Americas President Michael Urban, in an internal email announcing the restructuring, called it “an important step forward.”

“This is an important step forward for our Communities model, which continues to be an important way to help our customers and vendors unlock the potential of the technology ecosystem and maximize their market opportunities,” Urban said in the memo.

Urban praised McMillan as a leader with a “passion” for making partners successful. He said McMillan has a “unique perspective” of how technology transforms business and a history of engagement with the TD Synnex community.

Solution Providers Praise Kinlaw, Lee

Mike Kiani, president at MK Management, an $80 million MSP who is on the TD Synnex CommunitySolv advisory council, said he was “shocked” to learn about the departures of the two channel veterans.

“Having Sammy and Chun leave the Tech Data partner community is a huge loss,” Kiani said. “They are both passionate channel advocates who have been big contributors to helping me grow my business. They have done a good job of connecting partners and helping us succeed by working together as a community. I am sure that both of them are going to find much success [in their next roles]. I wish them all the best for the future and look forward to working with them wherever they land.”

Kiani, one of the founding members of the original Tech Data TechSelect community, said he has always appreciated Kinlaw’s commitment to partner success. “Sammy is like channel gold,” he said. “He has helped me grow my business wherver he worked. Everybody in the channel loves Sammy.”

Lee is also a talented channel executive who has helped partners succeed, said Kiani. “Chun is always thinking about how he can help partners be more successful,” said Kiani.

The executive departures come just nine months after TD Synnex brought its three solution provider communities— TechSelect, Varnex, and Stellr—under a new organization known as CommunitySolv. At that time, Kinlaw and Lee were named to the roles they are now vacating.

Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, Fort Lauderdale, Fla, No. 95 on the CRN 2022 Solution Provider 500, said he is sorry to see Kinlaw and Lee leave TD Synnex but recognizes the need for the distributor to drive efficiencies as it consolidates the two companies in the wake of the blockbuster merger of Tech Data and Synnex that was finalized last September, creating a $59.8 billion distribution powerhouse.

“It makes zero business sense not to merge the two organizations together—including the partner communities—in order to get the economies of scale you need to be successful,” said Venero. “You have to take the emotions surrounding this out of it and look at it from a business standpoint. TD Synnex is doing what they should be doing, which is consolidating and combining all of the internal and external systems and operations, creating one company rather than two separate siloed organizations. Unfortunately, there are going to be overlapping roles, systems and processes that need to be combined in order to gain economies of scale.”

Venero said the leader of TD Synnex, CEO Rich Hume—a passionate partner advocate—is key to driving efficiencies while maintaining strong relationships with partners. “I have great confidence that Rich Hume is building a stronger and more robust partner-centric distributor,” he said. “Rich is one of the most down-to-earth channel executives who has never forgotten where he came from. If there is anybody that can make TD Synnex successful for both shareholders and partners, it is Rich Hume.”

Venero—who has known Kinlaw for many years—said he expects the channel stalwart to quickly be snapped up by a top company looking to add a seasoned and highly respected channel leader. “Sammy is one of the top channel executives in the business,” he said. “I have nothing but the utmost respect for him. If you follow Sammy’s career, you will see that he has been a channel advocate from day one. That obviously does not change.”

Ray Benoit, president of RTM Communications, a Manchester, N.H.-based solution provider who has been with the TechSelect community for about 10 years and previously served on the community’s advisory committee, said he sees the departures as a chance for TechSelect to reconnect with its vendors and partners. “I hope this presents an opportunity for TD Synnex communities to work more closely with their partners, including the vendors and channel partners, than ever before,” Benoit told CRN.

McMillan To Maintain Key Responsibilities

In his internal memo on the changes, Urban thanked Kinlaw and Lee for their “many contributions” to the distributor. He said the company appreciates the duo’s work to “navigate” integration opportunities at TD Synnex.

Furthermore, he wrote that McMillan will keep her other responsibilities including overseeing the sales development group, which includes associate sales reps and sales training. He also noted that Bob Stegner, TD Synnex’s senior vice president of marketing, North America, and his team will “continue to support Kaye and the Communities team.”

“Kaye is excited to re-engage with the Communities and looks forward to working with the team to grow the network,” wrote Urban.

 

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