Cisco Security Channel Vet Steve Benvenuto Takes Early Retirement Deal

Benvenuto, who has spent more than two decades as a channel leader for the tech giant, took Cisco up on its early retirement offer as part of its $1 billion restructuring plan.


Longtime Cisco channel leader Steve Benvenuto has accepted an early retirement package from the tech giant, ending his 21-year tenure.

Taking to LinkedIn on Tuesday evening, Benvenuto, senior director, global security partner sales for Cisco, said that his final day at the company was yesterday.

“I leave with incredible memories and lifelong friendships from all over the world. Thanks to all the great team members, mentors and leaders I have worked with....not only here at Cisco...but at our Partners. Your advice and guidance has helped shape me as a person and a leader,” he said in a LinkedIn post.

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Cisco did not immediately respond to CRN‘s question regarding Benvenuto’s successor or if the company had plans to fill his now vacant seat at the helm of the Global Security Partner Sales Organization.

“[Benvenuto] has been a friend to the channel and later, became a friend personally,” said Kent MacDonald, senior vice president of Strategic Alliances for Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based Cisco partner. ”He‘s seen across the channel community as a great supporter of the channel. His passion and vision around security really gave partners the confidence to lean into Cisco’s security agenda.”

MacDonald called Benvenuto‘s departure “a bit surprising,” but said that Cisco continues to support the channel and hopes that his role will be reassigned. ”There’s no replacing [Benvenuto] -- he was a great ambassador for the channel-- but partners see a lot of value in his former role,” he said.

[Related: Cisco Restructuring: Partners Predict $1B In Cost Cuts Mean Layoffs, Product Line Drops]

During its most recent, disappointing earnings call in August, Cisco announced a $1 billion restructuring plan that included a voluntary early retirement program, which would net estimated pretax charges of approximately $900 million, consisting of severance and other one-time termination benefits, among other costs. The company said at the time that it expects to gain $800 million with these changes in place in the first quarter of Cisco‘s fiscal 2021, which ends in November.

A report surfaced Monday on Tech Wire on layoff speculation based on chatter from anonymous Cisco employees as the company looks to make $1 billion in cuts.

A Cisco spokesperson declined to comment on the report to CRN, citing its policy not to discuss rumors or speculation.

One Cisco partner who spoke under the condition of anonymity said they knew that the voluntary retirement offers -- like the one Benvenuto accepted -- were doled out. However, if not enough employees took Cisco up on the deal, they may be subject to the company‘s $1B cost reduction goal.

“I wouldn‘t be surprised if there are layoffs. But I don’t it will be massive since Cisco has been very sensitive to the pandemic and has given employees good options,” the Cisco partner said.

For Benvenuto‘s part, the executive said he will be looking for “a new adventure” after taking some time off.

Prior to his most recent position leading global security partner sales for the last four years, Benvenuto served as senior director, sales and business development of Cisco‘s Cloud Partner Transformation unit for six years. Before that, he spent nine years as senior director, sales and business development for Cisco’s Global Partner Programs. Benvenuto joined Cisco in 1991 as senior director, sales and business development of Emerging and IoT Technologies.