Cisco Channel Chief Wendy Bahr To Resign


Cisco Systems channel chief Wendy Bahr, who helped drive an unprecedented era of channel growth at the networking powerhouse is resigning, the company confirmed Friday.

Bahr, an 18-year Cisco channel veteran, has been senior vice president of Cisco’s Global Partner Organization since July, 2015.

"My decision came down to knowing this is the right time for me personally," Bahr said in an internal email obtained by CRN Friday. "I'm not sure what's next, but I am excited for the next chapter in my career and I will leave knowing the company is firmly positioned for great success."

She will stay on with Cisco until a replacement is hired, a Cisco spokesperson said.

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Kent MacDonald, vice president at Calgary-based solution provider Long View Systems, had high praise for Bahr's tenure as channel chief and the trust she engendered among Cisco's partners. "I'll run out of superlatives," MacDonald said. "Just like Aretha Franklin was the Queen of Soul, Wendy was the Queen of the Channel. She really is the most trusted and respected channel person that many of us have worked with. It's going to be a loss for Cisco with the credibility and respect that she had. In addition to all her titles and successes, she's a friend."

Robert Keblusek, CTO of Sentinel Technologies, a Downers Grove, Ill.-based solution provider and longtime Cisco partner, said Bahr has been a "channel champion" over the years.

"Anytime we've had any interactions with her—whether it's just a meeting or discussing ideas or any issues—she's always been extremely supportive for us," said Keblusek. "She's always been a strong advocate for Sentinel. Cisco's always had our back when Wendy was there."

Bahr spent the bulk of her years at Cisco working with solution providers and worked closely for many years with Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins, who headed the vendor’s North America channel at the time. In fact, when Robbins moved out of Cisco’s channel organization and stepped in to lead Cisco’s U.S. commercial business in 2008, it was Bahr who succeeded him as North Americas channel chief.

Robbins thanked Bahr on Twitter for her contributions to Cisco.

Special thanks to @wybahr for all of your great contributions to @Cisco - we will miss you but we wish you the best in all you do and we will always value our friendship! @CiscoPartners

— Chuck Robbins (@ChuckRobbins) August 17, 2018

Cisco, which has undergone a high-level sales team shakeup in recent months, intends to hire Bahr's replacement before its massive Partner Summit event in mid-November, the spokesperson said.

Bahr's resignation comes less than six months after Cisco hired her new boss, Gerri Elliott, as global sales chief. Elliott, an IBM, Microsoft and Juniper veteran, was hired last March to replace former sales head Chris Dedicoat, who stepped down last May after 22 years at Cisco.

The announcement of Bahr's resignation also comes only three months after former Americas sales chief Alison Gleeson announced her departure. Gleeson, another veteran of more than 20 years at Cisco, announced in late May that she would step down.

Both Bahr and Gleeson were rumored to have been candidates for the top global sales position after Dedicoat's departure. Cisco in June named 17-year company veteran Jeff Sharritts as Gleeson's replacement.

Cisco execs were not available for comment Friday, but the company issued a statement saying, "We respect Wendy's decision to leave Cisco and want to thank her for 18 years of leadership at Cisco, most recently leading our Global Partner Organization. Our partner community is one of our strongest assets and we are committed to their success and helping them evolve with Cisco's transformation."

Mark Haranas contributed to this story.