HP Is 'Full Steam Ahead' After Changeover In PC Leadership


HP Inc. is poised to continue its momentum in the highly competitive PC business as it hands the personal systems reins to a longtime company insider, partners told CRN.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company announced Wednesday that Ron Coughlin is departing as president of HP's personal systems business, in order to become the CEO of San Diego-based pet retailer Petco.

[Related: HP Personal Systems Prez Coughlin Departs, Succeeded By Commercial PC Head]

Coughlin has been succeeded by Alex Cho, who had been serving as vice president and general manager of HP's commercial PC business group since 2014. The company's fiscal second quarter, which ended April 30, marked the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth for the HP commercial PC business.

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Coughlin was "the face of the PC business, but he's built a great team behind him," said Skip Tappen, CEO at NWN, a Platinum personal systems partner of HP based in Waltham, Mass. "My sense is there's a pretty deep bench over there. They've got a great product set, and they've got a clear mission. I don't think any of those core fundamentals change as a result of this."

Cho has worked at HP since 1995, and has held senior roles in the company's PC, print and services businesses, the company said. In a statement, HP CEO Dion Weisler said that Cho is "uniquely qualified to lead personal systems into its next phase of reinvention," and brings "a long track record of success" to the position.

"I think being able to promote somebody from the inside, without really missing a step, will be great from a momentum standpoint," said Tappen, whose company is also No. 73 on CRN's Solution Provider 500 for 2018.

While HP has reoriented its PC focus under Coughlin's leadership toward innovation and premium products, "I don't think he was alone" in driving those moves, Tappen said.

Overall, "my expectations are that it's full steam ahead" under Cho's leadership, he said.

HP's fiscal second quarter was the sixth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth for the personal systems division as a whole. The segment generated revenue of $33.37 billion in fiscal 2017.

Mike Hadley, CEO of iCorps Technologies, a Boston-based partner of HP, said it's a smart move for HP to promote from within at a time when growth in the PC division has been so strong.

"It looks like Alex Cho is a great choice. He's been there for 23 years, and it looks like he might've played a big role in their recent success," Hadley said. "That to me seems like a good move -- to keep the pedal to the metal, to keep things moving in the right direction."

HP held the top spot on worldwide PC market share during the first three months of the year, with 20.8 percent of PC sales, and finished No. 2 behind Dell in U.S. market share with 28.4 percent, according to research firm Gartner.

Coughlin joined HP in 2007 with a background that included serving as chief marketing officer of PepsiCo. At HP, he went on to hold roles including general manager of the company's consumer PC division. In November 2014, HP combined its consumer and business personal systems groups under Coughlin's leadership.

Along with running commercial PCs for HP, Cho's prior roles have included heading the company's LaserJet supplies business and serving as vice president for LaserJet printers and supplies in the Americas region.