Channel Chief Exit: O'Neil Leaves Panasonic

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Longtime Panasonic channel chief Sheila O'Neil has left the company, CRN has learned.

O'Neil, a 16-year veteran of Panasonic, stepped down from her post as vice president of channel management for Panasonic System Communications Company of North America. In an email to colleagues, O'Neil wrote that "after 16 great years with Panasonic, I'll be moving on to new opportunities."

O'Neil told CRN she's proud of Panasonic's progress in the channel but is looking forward to taking her career in a new direction. "I'm reay for a new challenge," she said. "I've done what I could for Panasonic, and think we accomplished a lot, but I'm looking forward to helping other companies grow their channels as well."

[Related: Panasonic's New Partner Program Affords Resellers New Services, More Support]

Panasonic did not return a call for comment.

Bill Presler, managing partner for DataSource Mobility, a Clarksville, Tenn.-based Panasonic partner, said the loss of O'Neil is a significant blow to Panasonic. "She was a favorite of the partner community here, and she'll be missed," he said.

O'Neil joined Panasonic in 1997 as a channel sales manager for the company's Toughbook division after working for many years at MicroAge in the vendor marketing department. She was promoted to vice president of channel sales and distribution in 2008, and earlier this year she was named to her current position of vice president of channel management.

In 2008, O'Neil was named as CRN's Annual Report Card Channel Executive of the Year (for companies with less than $1 billion in revenue), thanks to strong partner support around the vendor's flagship Toughbook products.

During her tenure, O'Neil was instrumental in helping Panasonic shift its business solutions toward an indirect sales model and developing stronger partner offerings around products such as its Toughbook and Toughpad mobile devices.

O'Neil helped develop and roll out the new Panasonic Authorized Reseller Program one year ago, which replaced nine product-specific partner programs and consolidated those product lines -- from PCs and tablets to unified communications and document imaging -- under one channel program.

The program was designed to increase support and offer bundled services for partners around Panasonic's primary business product lines while also providing incentives to branch out into new product groups that they might not previously have been exposed to.

Darron Scanlon, managing partner at Panasonic partner Emerge Technologies in Erlanger, Ky., said he isn't sure how O'Neil's departure will affect the company moving forward. While Panasonic has made strides to improve its channel execution in recent years, he said, it still lacks a cohesive cross-product vision that partners can present to clients.

"In the past Panasonic has not been what I would call a successful channel company because of all the different segmented products," Scanlon said. "I'm a big fan of Panasonic and I love their products, but they still have a lot of work to do in the channel."


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