Cisco Names New Americas Channel Chief

Two of Cisco's best-known channel executives are getting new assignments, part of a slew of recent changes to Cisco's channel leadership team coinciding with the start of the networking titan's fiscal 2013.

Reached by CRN, Cisco confirmed that Jim Sherriff, senior vice president of Cisco's Americas partner organization, has been promoted to a newly created position heading up the sales piece of Cisco's Accelerated Cisco Transformation project. ACT is a companywide Cisco initiative that examines how Cisco products and services, as well as the operations and go-to-market strategies that support them, will need to evolve over the next few years. ACT is led by Angel Mendez, senior vice president, Cisco Transformation.

Sherriff, whose new title hasn't yet been confirmed, will report directly to Rob Lloyd, Cisco executive vice president, Worldwide Operations.

[Related: Hits Keep Coming: 10 More Notable Cisco Executive Departures ]

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"The Americas Partner Organization has made great strides in driving partner profitability under Jim's direction through three key areas of focus: enabling partners to capture new markets faster, increasing customer segment impact and driving improved operational efficiency," Chuck Robbins, Cisco senior vice president, The Americas, said in a statement e-mailed to CRN. "I'd like to thank him for his exceptional leadership and many contributions. He will be a great advocate for the Americas sales organization in his new role."

Meanwhile, Wendy Bahr, Cisco senior vice president, global and transformational partnerships, will replace Sherriff as senior vice president, Americas Partner Organization, putting her in charge of Cisco partner sales up and down North and South America.

As Sherriff did, she will report to Chuck Robbins, senior vice president, the Americas, with a dotted line into Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organization.

Both the Sherriff and Bahr appointments are expected to be formally announced by Cisco later on Monday.

An 11-year Cisco veteran, Sherriff took his current post in August 2010 following stints as CEO of Cisco China and before that, senior vice president of Cisco's Enterprise segment.

In the channel post, Sherriff oversaw a team of about 800 employees and 12,000 partners across the U.S., Canada and Latin America. That's the role to which Bahr is returning -- it was Sherriff who actually succeeded her in 2010 although at the time, Bahr's purview did not include Latin America channels.

Bahr was appointed to Cisco's U.S. and Canada channel chief role in January 2008. In the transformational accounts role she's had since 2010, she's been in charge of driving value from Cisco's major strategic partnerships and keeping strong ties with Cisco's top 500 global accounts and major system integrator and service provider partners, influencing some $9 billion in Cisco revenue.

"Wendy's deep knowledge of Cisco's partner organization, proven ability to build strong relationships with strategic and innovative partners at the local and global level, and collaborative, innovative and inclusive leadership style make her the ideal leader for the Americas Partner Organization," Robbins said.

A Cisco spokesperson told CRN that Cisco expects to fill Bahr's role soon.

NEXT: Partners React To The Cisco Exec Changes

Both executive moves closely follow a changing of the guard atop Cisco's channel flowchart, with Bruce Klein set to succeed Keith Goodwin as senior vice president, Worldwide Partner Organization. Goodwin is retiring but is expected to stay on through the end of the summer to assist with Klein's transition.

Notified of the changes by CRN, Gary Berzack, CTO and COO of eTribeca, a New York-based solution provider and Cisco partner, said the transitions should be smooth, and he welcomed Bahr's return to the Americas channel sales job.

"She was exemplary in the role before, and I'm glad to see her back," Berzack said. "I think it will bring a smooth transition, especially with Jim Sherriff moving out, and it will provide balance and continuity also for the transition from Keith to Bruce. This is one of the more seasoned channel teams out there."

Partners appreciated Bahr's visibility in the field, Berzack said, as well as her emphasis on channel sales to small and midsize customers in addition to Cisco's traditional strength in enterprise.

"When she had the job before, she had a vibrant initiative in the SMB market and that's become much more of a significant area for Cisco," Berzack said. "Enterprise has always been the top-heavy initiative in terms of sales, programs, marketing and enablement within Cisco, and over the last 15 years, it's struggled to do that well in other areas."

Cisco often makes executive changes close to the end of its fiscal year, although the past 18 months have seen more executive moves than usual, due to Cisco's ongoing corporate restructuring and a slew of major departures and reassignments.

In addition to these moves, Cisco last week said it would lay off 1,300 employees -- about 2 percent of its workforce -- on top of the more than 13,000 it's parted with in the past year and a half through layoffs, early retirement packages and asset sales. Most of the recent layoffs are believed to have come in Cisco's Wide Area Application Services (WAAS), Linksys, consulting and collaboration business groups.