Symantec Restructures Channel Group, Channel Chief Thompson To Depart

Symantec is once again shuffling its channel leadership lineup, including rolling out restructuring changes and announcing the departure of channel chief John Thompson.

The news comes just two weeks after the company's Partner Engage event in Los Angeles, California.

The restructuring changes take Symantec from a globally-led partner structure to an enterprise leadership team comprised of global partner sales; global systems integrators; and service providers, MSPs and strategic partnerships.

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"The opportunity ahead to drive greater engagement between Symantec and our partners has never looked better. In response to shifting market dynamics, we’re adjusting our enterprise leadership structure to focus on three key routes to market to ensure we’re serving the needs of our customers and partners more effectively," a Symantec spokesperson said in an email to CRN.

As a result of the restructuring, Thompson, head of worldwide channels, will leave the company in mid-December, the company said, though will remain on board in an advisory role in the interim. Thompson joined Symantec in 2014 from Cisco, where he was global vice president of strategic partners.

"I’d like to extend my deepest appreciation to John for his hard work in helping to shape Symantec’s channel program after the Veritas spin out in 2015," the Symantec spokesperson said. The changes were announced internally on Friday.

Symantec has named a new lineup of Blue Coat Systems executives to lead the three teams. Torjus Gylstorff will now head up the global partner sales organization. Gylstorff had served as vice president of emerging business at Blue Coat Systems. He will now be responsible for Symantec's sales strategy for distributors, VARs and resellers, which includes the expected launch of a combined partner program early next year.

Mieke Van Meensel, who had served as global vice president of strategic alliances at Blue Coat, will now lead the global systems integrator team. Finally, David Canellos, previously senior vice president of the advanced technology group at Blue Coat, will now lead Symantec's service provider, MSP and strategic partnership teams. In that role, Canellos will be responsible for strategy, go-to-market and partnerships.

"We’ve put into place a leadership team that has the right combination of domain expertise and horsepower to aggressively advance our channel strategy and help partners grow their business," the Symantec spokesperson said.

The reorganization is the latest example of Symantec moving Blue Coat executives into high leadership roles since it closed its acquisition of company in August. Symantec has already named former Blue Coat CEO Greg Clark as CEO, former Blue Coat President and COO Michael Fey as president and COO, former Blue Coat Senior Vice President of Worldwide Field Operations Marc Andrews as head of worldwide sales, former Blue Coat Senior Vice President of the Americas Steve Tchejeyan as head of sales for the Americas, and former Blue Coat Senior Vice President of Americas Channels Keith Weatherford as head of Americas channels.

From the Symantec side, CFO Thomas Seifert remains in his role as CFO. Symantec also confirmed that, despite the departure of Thompson, John Sorensen will remain with the company leading worldwide SMB, midmarket sales and channels. Sorensen had served as senior vice president of global sales prior to the Blue Coat acquisition.

Michael Knight, president and chief technology officer at Greenville, S.C.-based Encore Technology Group, said Symantec can now start fresh and create a "net new opportunity," taking influences from previous programs but, more importantly, taking the opportunity create a new program and partner approach.

"[Symantec has the opportunity to] look at everything they did there and the things they need to grow… and think of it as a new company," Knight said.

What will be key, Knight said, is soliciting partner feedback to build a solid partner foundation and methodologies. While Symantec has seen significant executive turmoil in its channel ranks over the past year, including those related to the Blue Coat acquisition and previous changes around the involuntary departures of Executive Vice President and General Manager of Global Sales and Operations Adrian Jones and Vice President of Global Channel Programs and Sales Tom LaRocca, Knight said stronger partner methodologies and approaches will help partners weather any further changes to come.

"I'm hopeful that they will look at this as an opportunity to rebrand, not really as formerly Symantec or formerly Blue Coat, but as one company and together build a charter that partners can latch ahold of and go to market with ... They will get success if they build those programs and those partners," Knight said.