Cisco Loses Another 'Champion' Channel Executive, This Time On The Collaboration Front

Networking giant Cisco is losing yet another top executive -- channel collaborative sales leader Richard McLeod, who is leaving the network giant to pursue his next "adventure" elsewhere, McLeod said.

"After an amazing 13 year run, and a record fourth quarter for Cisco Collaboration, it’s now time to leave on a high and move on to the next great adventure," said McLeod in an email to CRN. "I would love to find another market transition and channel building opportunity like the one at Cisco which has been so good for me."

The Cisco veteran is senior director of worldwide collaboration channel sales and was a key architect in building the company's channel program and its certifications for unified communications and collaboration, partners said.

[Related: Channel Veteran Peres Leaving Cisco]

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"He pioneered many new programs to help keep partners investing in practice development initiatives, which ultimately helped us bring the most advanced solutions to our customers," said Brian Ortbals, director of advanced technologies at World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based Cisco gold partner ranked No. 11 on CRN's 2015 Solution Provider 500 list. "I often hold our collaboration practice up as the poster child for how a channel program should be structured. … Losing Richard is definitely going to be a blow to our strategy."

McLeod grew Cisco's UC and collaboration business from $350 million in 2002 revenues to nearly $5 billion in fiscal year 2015, and has helped shape the networking giant's channel move into applications, software and services.

He also played a key role in launching the cloud-based application Cisco Spark earlier this year and led a $1 million incentive push for partners to sign up collaboration customers through its Cisco Rewards Program.

Partners said McLeod has been a "huge advocate and champion" for the channel over the years.

"Everybody has loved what he's done for the UC [and collaboration] partners and really just the channel in general," said one solution provider and Cisco Gold partner who declined to be identified. "It's sad, I mean, who else on the channel side is going to leave? … This "next generation" [leadership] team has some pretty big shoes to fill."

McLeod is just the latest top executive to leave the networking giant in recent months after the announcement in May that Chuck Robbins would become Cisco's new CEO. Other popular leaders who have left the company recently include Edison Peres, senior vice president of cloud and managed services; Chief Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior; Rob Lloyd, president, development and sales; and global channel chief Bruce Klein.

McLeod said he will not be retiring like some of the other executives who have recently departed Cisco.

"There has never been a more exciting time in the industry, and I enjoy building things and helping partners grow too much to step away just now," said McLeod.

McLeod was the host for Cisco's annual Collaboration Partner Summits for more than 10 years. He also played key roles through several acquisitions and subsequent channel integration, including WebEx and Tandberg. He is an executive member of Cisco's Global Collaboration Architecture Board.

"He was a pioneer for Cisco on a lot new fronts," said the solution provider. "He'll help any company on the planet with their channel initiatives. … He will be sadly missed."

Ortbals said the channel program at Cisco needs some adjustment. "With Cisco driving much more aggressively into the software and cloud services model," Ortbals said, "their channel programs are in need of some development to match the strategy. My hope is that Cisco is pursuing someone that has a background and successful track record in these areas."

When CRN asked Cisco whether the company would be filling the position, and if so, who will be replacing McLeod, a spokesperson said the company does not comment publicly on personnel matters.

McCloud tipped his hat to his Cisco partners in his comments to CRN: "It has been an amazing ride at Cisco," said McLeod, "and I have built some terrific relationships with the world's best partners. If the next great adventure is half as good as this one has been, I will be more than happy."