HPE VP Rob Schaeffer To Become President of CBT, Says ‘The Sky Is The Limit’

“I think CBT is poised to be one of those companies that will come out of the pandemic and do really, really well in what the new normal will look like in terms of what we offer to our customers. And what we do to help our customers not only survive, but thrive in what the new normal is going to be.”


Hewlett Packard Vice President of Channel Sales Rob Schaeffer, a highly respected seven-year HPE channel veteran, is stepping down to take a job as as president of CBT, one of HPE’s top enterprise partners.

The hiring comes with CBT, No. 155 on the CRN SP500, stepping up its charge to assist customers with breakout solutions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic including remote worker, Internet of Things, AI based solutions, and refinery of future.

CBT founder and CEO Kelly Ireland said Schaeffer’s appointment is a huge coup for the company she founded in a spare bedroom 19 years ago. “It has been awesome,” said Ireland of the reaction she has received from colleagues and channel veterans to the appointment. “We’re getting a lot of congratulations from distributors and fellow CEOs.”

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Schaeffer, who was a managing partner for top solution provider STA for 15 years before moving to HPE seven years ago, said the opportunity to go to work for CBT represents a return to his solution provider heyday.

“It feels fantastic to get back to back to my roots,” said Schaeffer,.”I couldn’t be more enthusiastic or bullish on what the opportunities are for our vendor partners, our ecosystem and the employees who make up CBT. We’re poised to do wonderful things to be a much, much larger organization than we are today.”

Schaeffer, who gave his notice to HPE this week, said he is looking forward to taking the reins at CBT effective May 18. He said he was not looking to make a change but could not refuse the opportunity when Ireland, who he has known for 20 years, approached him several weeks ago. “We have always had a nice working relationship,” he said of Ireland. “Kelly presented the opportunity to me to help continue the great growth at CBT and I couldn’t refuse it.”

Schaeffer said he is looking forward to expanding CBT’s systems integration business with Fortune 100 companies and further developing CBT’s intellectual property in areas like internet of things, artificial intelligence and refinery of the future.

Schaeffer said he is also going to look at geographical expansion for CBT, which is headquartered in Orange, Calif. with potential mergers and acquisitions.

“The sky is the limit in terms of what the opportunities are ahead,” said Schaeffer, noting that the coronavirus pandemic is reshaping the competitive landscape. “It’s an interesting time in technology with the global pandemic and the economy. There are great things that come out of challenging times. I think CBT is poised to be one of those companies that will come out of the pandemic and do really, really well in what the new normal will look like in terms of what we offer to our customers. And what we do to help our customers not only survive, but thrive in what the new normal is going to be. Technology is going to be a key component of how companies live, grow and prosper in the future.”

The new normal is going to include a wave of new as a service offerings from CBT, said Schaeffer. “We will be selective in the ones we choose to pursue,” he said. “We have to make sure they fit within our current portfolio. We want to make sure we do it in a very, very pragmatic way. We have to think about what does the world need, what do our customers need and how are we suited to best provide that as efficiently as we possibly can.”

Schaeffer started at HPE as a district manager in 2013 leading strategic accounts for HPE’s Enterprise Storage Division in Southern California. Two years later, he became director of channel sales West. For the last three years, Schaeffer has been a vice president of channel sales.

Paul Cohen, vice president of sales for New York-based PKA Technologies Inc., a top HPE Platinum partner that collaborates with CBT, said Schaeffer’s knowledge of both HPE and the channel is a big plus for CBT. “Rob is well connected,” said Cohen. “He knows the processes, supply chain, distribution. He’s a great guy. I’m very happy for him.”

Schaeffer said he leaves with the utmost respect for HPE and HPE CEO Antonio Neri. “I fell in love with HPE in July 1998 when I was at EMC and started working with HPE on joint solutions,” he said. “HPE is a company I love and respect not only for the tremendous innovation and engineering prowess but the quality of people.”

Schaeffer said it has a been exciting to see Neri’s leadership, transforming HPE into a next generation edge to cloud platform as a service company. “Antonio has his finger on the pulse of where technology solutions are going and he is driving a company that both he and I so dearly love in the right direction,” he said. “I would not have left HPE to work for another OEM. The only reason I am taking this role is because of Kelly and the opportunity for me to get back to my roots and run a company from the top.”

Schaeffer said he sees the CBT opportunity as a means to get even closer to customers leveraging technology solutions to be successful. “Many people talk about being customer centric,” he said. “As a solution provider and systems integrator that is exactly what you do every single day, all day long. You are in existence to satisfy your current customers and to attract your next customers. The way you go about doing that is all about the good work you do to drive a business outcome that the customer verifies and validates by giving you that purchase order.”

One of the strengths of the channel, said Schaeffer, is its ability to pick from a wide portfolio of solution offerings to solve customer problems. “You look at the ecosystem of partners to aggregate that solution for the customer,” he said. “The solution provider is the glue and the builder of the customer relationship. System integrators typically have the relationships from top to bottom in an organization. You are the stable force.”

Schaeffer said CBT has seen significant growth in the business with HPE over the years and that will continue as he steps into the president’s seat. “I expect that will accelerate,” he said. “There is no reason why CBT can’t double, triple or even quadruple over time. I couldn’t be more thrilled about the opportunity we have to grow the business.”