HP Channel Chief Thompson To Step Aside

The company has launched an "aggressive" internal and external search for candidates to fill Thompson's vacated job as vice president and general manager for the HP Solution Partners Organization, Americas, said Mike Larson, senior vice president and general manager, HP Personal Systems Group, Americas. Although his new role is effective Nov. 1, Thompson will aid with the transition through Jan. 1.

Slide Show: HP's executive ranks have had significant turmoilover the past two years. CRN takes a look back.

Larson's criteria for Thompson's replacement: an individual with value and volume channel management experience, who has existing relationships with the solution provider and distribution community and can help maintain consistency of the Palo Alto, Calif., company's existing strategy, including the Attach Plus rebate program introduced earlier this year. The new individual will also need to be team player, one who can build consensus among many different HP divisions.

Sponsored post

"This is an ongoing and continuous improvement project," he said.

While he bemoaned the timing of the switch-up, Larson praised Thompson's tenure. "This move really has nothing to do with John's performance or any level of dissatisfaction with what is going on in the channel space," he said.

"I am confident that the team that has been assembled and developed is imminently capable," Larson added.

During the search for Thompson's replacement, Larson said U.S. channel management responsibilities will be assumed by Jim McDonnell, senior vice president and general manager, HP Solution Partners Organization, Worldwide.

Thompson's new role as vice president and general manager for HP's worldwide workstation business was created through a recent HP Personal Systems Group restructuring triggered by HP senior vice president Todd Bradley. Thompson was proactively approached about the position with approval from Larson.

"From my perspective, this is an opportunity to garner more worldwide experience within HP," Thompson said.

Rick Chernick, president of HP's SMB reseller council and CEO of Camera Corner Connecting Point Computer Centers, a Green Bay, Wisc.-based VAR, praised Thompson for driving a channel renaissance that's paying off in higher sales for HP partners.

"He will be missed by the channel, but he is not leaving and will be available if we need help," Chernick said. "He has done a wonderful job with the reseller market in addressing the customer's needs, listening, reacting, changing and making things happen. It has been a wonderful run with John. He's being rewarded for a job well done."

Chernick said his HP sales for the year are up, and his team is pumped up about the potential for even stronger growth in 2007, particularly with HP blades and storage. "HP has now overtaken Dell, and we are going to continue to do that," he said. "We're picking up big, new customers that have been with Dell. Now that HP is in that No. 1 spot [in global PC market share], it's helping us go after that Dell business. Everyone wants to be with No. 1. There is a lot of momentum."

Jay Tipton, vice president of Technology Specialists, also has seen some HP momentum. The Fort Wayne, Ind.-based solution provider's HP ProCurve business is up about 50 percent this year, due in large part to strong channel rep support in the field, Tipton said.

"We've got an awesome HP ProCurve rep," he said.

Tipton lauded Thompson for his tight ties with HP partners. "John always listened and returned phone calls and worked closely with partners," he said. "John did a great job for the channel."

Camera Corner's Chernick said Thompson has assured him that HP will take its time and get the right person for the channel post.

"We shouldn't skip a beat," Chernick said. "HP has worked too hard, in my opinion, to let anything go backward. I'm looking forward to working with whomever the new person is. We are not letting up one bit. This is what happens to good people [like Thompson]. They get promoted."

STEVEN BURKE contributed to this story.

*Editor's Note: Story updated on Oct. 25 with VAR comments.