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Partners ‘Rooting’ For HPE CEO Antonio Neri’s Speedy COVID-19 Recovery

‘We were very heartened to hear last night that he was already feeling better,’ said Comport Consulting President Mike Vencel. ‘That is a great sign. The entire Comport family is pulling for Antonio to beat this very quickly. Our message to him is get well soon, and we are looking forward to seeing him next week at Virtual HPE Discover.’

Hewlett Packard Enterprise partners are sending HPE CEO Antonio Neri—who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on June 16—wishes for a speedy recovery and good health as they prepare to cheer him on next week at HPE’s Virtual Discover Conference.

Mike Vencel, president of Comport Consulting, an HPE Platinum partner headquartered in Ramsey, N.J. who did a customer webinar with Neri Wednesday, said he is confident that Neri’s “grit, character and determination” will see him through the COVID-19 diagnosis.

“We are rooting for Antonio to have a full speedy recovery,” said Vencel in an interview with CRN. “We were very heartened to hear last night that he was already feeling better. That is a great sign. The entire Comport family is pulling for Antonio to beat this very quickly. Our message to him is get well soon, and we are looking forward to seeing him next week at Virtual HPE Discover.”

Neri revealed June 17 in a tweet that he has tested positive for COVID-19, but said he is already feeling better and next week will keynote HPE Virtual Discover, which runs online June 23 – June 24.

“I recently learned of some unfortunate personal news. Yesterday I tested positive for COVID-19,” said Neri in the tweet. “The good news is, I feel much better already and plan to proceed with business as usual while I quarantine from home.”

Vencel said he was “blown away” that Neri participated in the webinar just hours before he revealed later in the day that he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“It’s remarkable that Antonio kept his commitment to Comport and our customers,” he said. “We would have totally understood that he had other priorities with his health. The fact that he showed up [on the webinar] with the effects of COVID-19 and did a really important customer briefing for us is a testament to his character and the fact that our relationship with him goes beyond business. It is personal. We are very thankful for our partnership with Antonio and HPE.”

During the Comport webinar, Vencel said, Neri was “at the top of his game with high energy, passionate and articulate. You never would have known that he was COVID-19 positive.”

For Neri to participate in the Comport customer webinar showed “grit, commitment, character, and dependability,” said Vencel. “This wasn’t just about business. For Antonio to show up even though he was dealing with COVID-19 just shows the kind of person that he is. To do that meeting with COVID-19 hanging over his head was just amazing. We are very thankful for his leadership.”

Neri has stepped up time and time again for partners and the channel community, said Vencel. “Antonio is always there for partners,” he said. “That really gives customers a real sense of comfort when they do business with us.”

Rob Schaeffer, president of Orange, Calif-based CBT, an HPE Platinum partner that has been recognized for its groundbreaking Refinery of the Future solution, said Antonio’s leadership is an inspiration to partners.

“Antonio is unique in his leadership in that he leads with both his head and his heart,” said Schaeffer, who as a former top HPE channel leader worked with Neri for five years before taking the CBT job. “I say that with sincerity and respect. He is just a fantastic leader and person. It was a privilege and honor to be part of his HPE family. I have had the honor to to spend time with him. He doesn’t just create the values and the culture. It is in his DNA. He lives it. We at CBT and I know all of the HPE employees are wishing him a speedy recovery and best of health.”

Schaeffer said he is heartened that the 53-year-old Neri takes good care of himself. “One of Antonio’s important leadership qualities is how well he takes care of himself, the employees at HPE, the partners and the ecosystem,” he said. “There is a lot of inspiration in that. We wish him all the strength and courage, and we are confident he will be through this challenge in short-order. We’re looking forward to seeing him at Virtual Discover.”

Felise Katz, the CEO of PKA Technologies, No. 429 on the CRN SP500, one of HPE’s original Platinum partners, said the entire partner community is wishing Neri a speedy recovery.

“There is a huge amount of warmth and gratitude within the partner community for Antonio,” she said. “We are all part of the HPE family. With Antonio being impacted by COVID-19 it hurts us as it does all of the extended HPE family. We wish him the best and a speedy recovery. It is important he take care of himself so he can take care of others and that includes the partner community.”

There has been an outpouring of emotional messages for Neri from HPE employees and partners since he revealed his diagnosis in the tweet, which has over 230 comments as of Thursday evening.

Alicia Jeter, a strategic event marketing executive at HPE, wrote on Twitter: “Our family prayed for your quick recovery tonight. I’m so grateful for all you did for us this week as we get ready for HPE Discover Virtual Event. Thank you for your inspirational leadership!”

Nancy Lichtle, a senior marketing manager for HPE, tweeted: “Praying for your fast recovery. Thank you for your tremendous leadership and for setting the tone of openness and compassion at HPE.”

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