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Exclusive: Longtime Cisco Channel Leader Nirav Sheth Is Departing

Twenty-year Cisco veteran Nirav Sheth, vice president of worldwide sales and systems engineering for the tech giant's Global Partner Organization, is leaving the company, Cisco confirms to CRN.

Cisco veteran Nirav Sheth, vice president of worldwide sales and systems engineering for the tech giant's Global Partner Organization and right-hand man to global channel chief Oliver Tuszik, is leaving the company. 

Cisco confirmed Sheth's departure to CRN Thursday. Sheth, who has spent nearly 20 years at Cisco, will be staying in a channel-facing role for another company, according to a spokesperson for Cisco.  

In the meantime, Oliver Tuszik, senior vice president of Cisco's Global Partner Organization, will be assuming the day-to-day responsibilities for Sheth's role to ensure a smooth transition for Cisco's channel team and partners until the right candidate to fill Sheth's shoes can be found, Cisco told CRN.  

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"After nearly two decades with Cisco, with many of them focused on the channel, [Sheth] has decided to leave Cisco for an external opportunity. We wish [Sheth] all the best and we want to thank him for his many contributions to Cisco and our partners," Cisco said in a statement.  

Sheth has been a critical player in Cisco's ongoing evolution into a software and services-focused company. He told CRN this month that Cisco right now has an opportunity to show the rest of the industry what a channel-first model looks like for software, SaaS and subscriptions, and that partners who have invested in life-cycle capabilities with Cisco are enjoying three times greater sell-with growth rates.  

When Sheth took over the role of running channel engineering, he gave partner engineering groups a voice at Cisco, said Faisal Bhutto, executive vice president of enterprise networking, cloud and cybersecurity for Computex Technology Solutions, a Cisco Gold Quad Master-level partner. 

"Candidly, the partner sales team has always had a voice, but because of his personality and experience and background, [Sheth] totally transformed the experience of channel partners when it comes to engineering operations," Bhutto said.  

Sheth brought technical executives into the partner ecosystem and gave solution providers more access to labs, demos, and gear before formal launches, Bhutto added. "There were a lot of good changes, so it's definitely a loss for Cisco."  

The eventual newcomer will have big shoes to fill, but Bhutto said Cisco should replace Sheth with someone who has worked for a solution provider or understands how partners operate and the importance of the channel ecosystem.  

"It would be a disservice to the partner organization if someone comes in who hasn't dealt with what we deal with every day, but all of Cisco's replacements have been the right candidates," he said. "Frankly, I would like to see someone with enough clout to make sure we have a front seat at the table."  

Solution providers told CRN in 2018 that Sheth was one of their top picks for the firm's channel chief position when Wendy Bahr, former senior vice president of Cisco’s Global Partner Organization, announced she would be leaving the company.  

Sheth spent nearly two decades working for Cisco in a variety of roles, including his most recent role for nearly four years. He also served as director of enterprise and data center networking, senior manager of technical services, and product manager of Cisco's professional services division.

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