Q&A: HP's Former Networking Chief Looks Ahead

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Marius Haas presided over some of the biggest gains for Hewlett-Packard's networking division it is history, but it wasn't enough to keep him at HP.

Earlier this week, HP confirmed Haas' departure following nearly three years as senior vice president and general manager for HP Networking, and before that, five years as chief strategy officer and global head of corporate M&A for the computing giant.

Haas is headed to private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) as an industry advisor. According to KKR, Haas will work closely with the KKR team to identify new investments, particularly in the technology sector.

In an interview with CRN -- Haas' first on-the-record since his departure was confirmed -- Haas expounded on why he departed HP, what he hopes to accomplish with KKR and some of the tech segments that interest him most. Excerpts of the conversation follow.

HP Networking has grown significantly in the last two years. Why was it time for you to leave HP?

It's very simple. It's been a passion of mine to go into the private equity space ever since I did the corporate M&A work at HP for five years, and when an opportunity came around to work at such a fine firm as KKR, I had to take it.

Fair enough. Did KKR approach you?

We've been in conversations for a while, and known each other many years.

And you sought to go into a private equity role?

Yes, absolutely. You know going back, HP Networking, what a phenomenal story. We had a phenomenal accomplishment and I feel extremely proud of what we have done, the market momentum we generated and the value that's being presented to customers and shareholders. I have nothing but fond memories of working at a great company and establishing the foundation that is continuing now.

Do you know who will replace you at HP?

No, there's a search going on right now. Bethany Meyer [currently vice president of worldwide marketing and alliances for HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking unit] is currently acting. She heads marketing for ESSN and she's the perfect person to shepherd it to the next step.

Do you have a particular highlight from your nearly three years running HP Networking?

We brought the business to double digit growth and established a phenomenal team with a great portfolio. Just that in and of itself is something I'm extremely proud of. You go back four years when we hadn't yet spent the time in strategy and corporate development, and we're growing the company to make it a truly efficient and productive organization -- that was something that was rewarding.

You're mentioned as part of this high-level executive churn happening at HP. Why are so many HP executives leaving the company right now?

I don't want to comment on that. I'm leaving a great organization and I'm leaving on good terms with the management.

Next: Haas' Role WIth KKR

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