Lenovo Hires AMD Veteran As President For North America Biz


A longtime AMD executive is joining Lenovo as its North America president, effective Feb. 12, as the company faces steep challenges for its PC business along with a recent overhaul to its channel program structure.

Matthew Zielinski, who had previously spent 12 years at chip maker AMD in sales leadership positions, will have responsibility over Lenovo's PC and Smart Devices division in North America, Lenovo announced.

[Related: Lenovo North America Interim President On The Change In Channel Chief, Resolving Pricing Concerns And Channel Investment In 2018]

Lenovo's previous North America president, Emilio Ghilardi, had stepped down in August, and was succeeded on an interim basis by senior vice president Christian Teismann.

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The appointment of Zielinski also follows the departure of Sammy Kinlaw as vice president and channel chief for Lenovo's North America PC business on Jan. 19. Kinlaw departed for a worldwide channel role at Lexmark, and has been succeeded on an interim basis by Rob Cato, Lenovo's executive director for public sector, workstation and OEM.

Zielinski had most recently served as corporate vice president of OEM sales at AMD, where he helped oversee sales to Lenovo. "Matt will bring deep customer and partner relationships to Lenovo that will help us drive continued improvements in customer experience, growth and profitability," Lenovo said in a statement.

Lenovo is in the midst of a tough battle with other PC makers in the North American market, while facing pressure from the decline of traditional PCs as well as increasing costs for memory and other components.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Lenovo's U.S. PC shipments plunged 23.6 percent on a year-over-year basis. That kept Lenovo in fourth place in terms of U.S. PC market share, behind HP Inc., Dell and Apple. Lenovo had been surpassed by Apple in U.S. market position in the third quarter of 2017.

Lenovo, however, is continuing to release new PCs at an aggressive pace, including refreshing its premium ThinkPad X1 lineup earlier in January.

In October of last year, Lenovo made what Kinlaw went on to term a "drastic change" in its channel program structure in a bid to make conditions more equitable for reseller partners.

Some solution providers have told CRN that the program changes have negatively impacted partner profitability on enterprise contracts.

In a recent interview with CRN, Teismann said that "so far the feedback we have gotten after we worked through [pricing issues] with the channel partners is, in most of the cases, actually not as negative as sometimes it was portrayed to us."

"Actually, a lot of partners came back to us and said it's much more predictable, and it allows us really to double down on growth areas and invest jointly in growing together," Teismann said.

Zielinski had served as corporate vice president of OEM sales at AMD since late 2014, and before that he headed up AMD's sales to HP. Prior to joining AMD in 2006, Zielinski had worked as a regional sales manager for Infineon Technologies, according to his LinkedIn profile. He holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Zielinski will be based out of Lenovo's North American headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Partners who spoke with CRN on Monday were enthusiastic about working with Lenovo as Zielinski comes aboard.

"It looks like a great addition to the Lenovo team. [Zielinski] has a great tech company background," said Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Lenovo partner in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "I look forward to seeing great things coming from Lenovo."

Matt Phillips, account manager for Direct Technology Group Inc., a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Lenovo partner, said he's had "no issues" in working with Lenovo from a channel perspective and considers the new lineup of products to be "amazing."

"They make it pretty easy on us. A lot of these programs they have are pretty straightforward," Phillips said. "I just hope they maintain what they have. They have some really amazing products. For the most part Lenovo seems to have more variety than any vendor I've seen."