Partners Pumped Up Whitman Is Staying Put At HPE

Partners say they couldn't be happier that Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman has publicly committed to remaining at the helm of the company.

HPE partners say it is Whitman's leadership that has been the driving force behind a massive turnaround that has taken the onetime Silicon Valley behemoth from a debt-ridden company with long-in-the-tooth products and a demoralized partner network to a smaller and more nimble enterprise-focused company with a reignited innovation engine and charged-up channel.

Skip Tappen, CEO of NWN, one of HPE's top partners and No. 79 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500, said Whitman's decision to stay the course is a big boost to HPE and its partners.

[ CRN Exclusive: HPE's Whitman On New Products, Dell EMC's 'Old Technology' Bet, Cisco's UCS-VCE Data Center Dilemma And Her Future Plans]

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"I remember when Meg came to the company and how much contention and channel conflict there was," said Tappen. "From her first days at the company she came out very strongly in favor of the channel. That changed the internal mindset of the company and she has stuck with it. HPE's current credibility with the channel is a result of Meg."

An HPE CEO change with all of the transitions going on in the industry and at HPE would be "disruptive" to the company and its partners, said Tappen. "Think of how disruptive it would be to have a new CEO," he said. "Meg's decision to stick with it provides stability for HPE and the channel. It says a lot about her commitment to the company and the industry. That is the kind of leadership HPE needs right now. As Meg said, there is a lot of work still to be done. There is no one better to lead that effort than Meg. She has a vision on where she wants to take HPE and she is sticking to her guns."

Tappen said Whitman has reignited the HPE innovation engine with strong acquisitions like Aruba, SimpliVity and Nimble. "Meg has positioned the company well for the future with the acquisitions," he said.

The strong response from partners came after Whitman took to Twitter Thursday night in a rare post to snuff out reports earlier in the week that she was on the "short list" to become the next CEO of embattled ride-sharing company Uber.

’Normally I do not comment on rumors, but the speculation about my future and Uber has become a distraction,’ Whitman said in a Tweet on Thursday evening. ’So let me make this as clear as I can. I am fully committed to H.P.E. and plan to remain the company’s C.E.O. We have a lot of work still to do at H.P.E. and I am not going anywhere. Uber’s C.E.O. will not be Meg Whitman."

Raymond Tuchman, CEO of Experis Technology Group, a Potomac, Md., HPE partner, said he sees a bright future with HPE with Whitman continuing to lead the company. He said his HPE business is up 30 percent this year.

Tuchman shudders at the state of HP when Whitman took the helm six years ago. "Meg brought stability and leadership," he said. "She got rid of all the distractions like the enterprise services and software businesses and has the company sharply focused on next-generation infrastructure. Her staying the course is going to help us continue to drive sales momentum. We are glad she is staying put, and we're also glad that she stepped aside from the HP board. That gives her more time to focus on HPE."

On Wednesday, the day after the Uber reports surfaced, HP Inc. announced Whitman was giving up her position as chairman of the board, a post she held since HP was formally split in November 2015.

Chris Case, CEO of Sequel Data Systems, an Austin, Texas-based solution provider and HPE channel partner, said he was "relieved" to learn that Whitman was staying put at HPE.

"Every time you have a change and there is a new CEO, there is a fear that things will go in a different direction," Sequel Data Systems' Casee said. "It's hard to compare how big a difference Meg has made to the company. It's like night and day. Meg came in, laid out a five-year plan, stuck with it and has made sure that HPE is innovating again. There was a long period of cost cutting under [former HP CEO] Mark Hurd. Meg invested in R&D and has HPE innovating again."

Peter Larocque, president of North America distribution for Synnex, Fremont, Calif., one of HPE's top distribution partners, said he was "happy" to hear that Whitman is staying at HPE.

"Meg is a friend of the channel who has been very aggressive at making changes that grow the business," said Larocque. "She has made a big difference to HPE. She always talks about the importance of the channel and then walks the talk. She has done a lot of good and built a great organization. This shows she is committed to the channel, investors and associates. It's full steam ahead."