The Top 25 Blockbuster IT Executive Moves Of 2015

Start It Off

With so many blockbuster executive moves in 2015, it was hard to choose just 25. This year saw some particularly industry-changing moves, many of which catalyzed further executive shuffles as the new top executives shifted the ranks to fit their vision for the future. From a new CEO for Cisco to a flood of executive departures from Citrix and shuffles at Symantec as the company prepares to split in two, many of the top companies in the IT industry are ending 2015 with a much different lineup than when the year started.

Take a look at which IT executives were in and which were out in 2015. If these 25 IT executive moves aren't enough, check out the CRN roundup of blockbuster channel executive moves in 2015.

Chuck Robbins

Hands down, the biggest executive move of the year was the appointment of new Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins in May. He succeeded John Chambers, who had been CEO of the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant for more than 20 years and who remains with the company as executive chairman and chairman of the board. Partners at the time praised the move, calling Robbins the "partner's choice" for CEO, given his strong roots as former U.S. channel chief for the company. Since officially assuming the role July 26, Robbins has ushered in a new era at the company, radically refreshing the top executive lineup and putting muscle behind the company's push into cybersecurity, software, the cloud and more.

The Robbins Crew

Shortly after taking the helm of the networking giant, new Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins initiated a series of top-level executive changes. Those changes included the departure of many well-known Cisco execs, including Gary Moore, president and chief operating officer; Rob Lloyd, president, development and sales; Padmasree Warrior, chief technology officer; Wim Elfrink, executive vice president for industry solutions and chief globalization officer; Surinder Brar, chief of partner strategy; and Edzard Overbeek, the company's top services executive. It also included the appointment of new executives, which included Rebecca Jacoby as senior vice president of operations; Hilton Romanski as chief technology and strategy officer; Mark Chandler as senior vice president and general counsel; Joe Cozzolino as senior vice president of services; Karen Walker as chief marketing officer; Fran Katsoudas as chief people officer; Chris Dedicoat as senior vice president of worldwide sales; Pankaj Patel as executive vice president and chief development officer; Ruba Borno as chief of staff and vice president of growth initiatives; Zorawar Biri Singh as senior vice president and CTO; Kevin Bandy as chief digital officer; Michelle Dennedy as vice president and chief privacy officer; and Kelly Kramer as executive vice president and CFO. These changes were not the only ones this year at Cisco -- read on for more changes at the vendor in 2015.

Citrix Executives Fleeing

Another company that saw a slew of executive changes this year was Citrix, which saw a series of departures that extended throughout the year. April, in particular, was a tough month for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based virtualization vendor, seeing the departures of Rakesh Narasimhan, vice president and general manager of its application and desktop virtualization business; Sudhakar Ramakrishna, senior vice president and general manager of the enterprise and service provider division; top sales executive Al Monserrat; Matthew Morgan, vice president of corporate product marketing; and Brad Pedersen, chief architect and senior fellow. The company also added Carlos Sartorius as senior vice president of worldwide sale and services in January and Kimberly Martin as channel chief in September. The changes extended to the top level of management, with Executive Chairman Robert Calderoni replacing retiring President and CEO Mark Templeton on an interim basis in October.

Symantec Split Shuffle

As Symantec navigated its split into separate storage and security companies this year, the Mountain View, Calif.-based vendor lost two key executives. In October, the company lost Executive Vice President and General Manager of Global Sales Adrian Jones, who had joined the company in June 2014 and was promoted to lead international sales nearly a year ago. Shortly after, the Mountain View, Calif.-based vendor also lost Vice President of Channel Programs and Sales Tom LaRocca and Vice President, Global Sales Strategy and Field Enablement Sean Maxwell. Partners at the time said that the changes were concerning, especially as the channel leadership departures come as Symantec is looking to revamp its approach to partners as it becomes a security-only company.

Paul Perez

In one of the many executive changes at Cisco in 2015, the networking giant lost a key driving force behind its Unified Computing System in March with the departure of Paul Perez. He had most recently served as CTO of Cisco's Data Center Group and had also held a position as vice president and general manager of Computing Systems after joining the company from Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, Calif. Perez jumped ship from Cisco to join Dell, where he was named enterprise CTO. The move elated Dell partners, who said at the time that the executive's rock-solid enterprise credentials would help boost the company's data center strategy.

Rory Read

In another key executive addition this year for Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, the company named Rory Read as chief operating officer and president of Worldwide Commercial Sales. Read comes to Dell from AMC, where, as CEO, he was credited with helping the company expand its horizons beyond the PC microprocessor business. He has also held positions as president and COO of Lenovo. In his new role, Read will be responsible for running Dell's global system integrator relationships and growing the company's momentum in direct and channel sales, the company said at the time.

Meraki Founders Leave Cisco

Two years after Cisco acquired cloud-based networking provider Meraki, the company's founders left the company. CRN reported the departures of Sanjit Biswas (pictured), John Bicket and Hans Robertson in February after the executives indicated on their LinkedIn profiles that they were no longer with Cisco. All three executives indicated that they would be taking some time off after leaving Cisco, CRN reported at the time. The Meraki cloud managed networking unit is now overseen by Senior Vice President Rob Soderbery.

Big Lenovo Executive Moves In 2015

Executive changes at Lenovo went all the way up to the top. The company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Morrisville, N.C., started a major executive shuffle in April with the appointment of former Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci as president, as well as naming Jay Parker as senior vice president of the company's enterprise business group and Gerry Smith as executive vice president and COO. The moves came on the heels of the February expansion of the responsibilities of channel chief Chris Frey, who assumed the responsibilities of overseeing the company's commercial businesses, SMB and large accounts. The next month, Lenovo named former president of EMEA and SVP of the Lenovo Group Aymar de Lencquesaing as president of Lenovo North America. However, not all the appointments were there to stay. Parker announced in August that he would be leaving Lenovo to take a job at Dell as vice president and general manager, North America enterprise solutions.

EMC Entrances And Departures

2015 was a year full of changes for EMC, Hopkinton, Mass., and its executive lineup was no exception. Former HP exec Chris Riley joined the company in February as senior vice president of global alliances for EMC, replacing retiring exec Terry Breen. The federation also added VMware executives, naming Ross Brown as channel chief. However, the year was also plagued with departures from the EMC Federation, with the company losing multiple top-level executives. The list of departures notably includes VMware CTO Ben Fathi (who was replaced by Ray O'Farrell); VCE top sales executive Mark Thurmond; Chuck Hollis, VMware chief strategist of storage and availability; VMware co-channel chief Todd Surdey; and Riccardo Di Blasio, VMware senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing for vCloud Air.

Diane Greene

In November, Google caused waves in the tech market with the announcement that it had hired VMware co-founder and one-time CEO Dianne Greene to lead its cloud services business. The addition came as part of an acquisition of Greene's startup Bebop Technologies. Green helped co-found VMware and served as the company's CEO from 1998 to 2008. She will now join Mountain View, Calif.-based Google as senior vice president of the company's enterprise business, where she will be responsible for running the Google for Work and Google Cloud Platform. Partners praised the move by Google at the time, saying that it showed the company was still serious about keeping a foothold in the enterprise market.

Edison Peres

Cisco lost one of its most heralded channel executives this year. In August, Edison Peres -- senior vice president of cloud and managed services, and former worldwide channel chief -- announced he would be leaving the company. He remained with the company in an advisory role before retiring Nov. 1. Cisco said it would not be filling the vacancy as it reorganized its cloud business. Partners said at the time that Peres' departure was a huge loss for the networking giant, calling him the "Godfather" of Cisco's channel strategy, as well as a key leader in the company's Intercloud strategy.

Dave Donatelli

The former head of Hewlett-Packard's enterprise hardware business got a new job in April. Dave Donatelli joined Oracle, Redwood City, Calif., to lead the company's infrastructure business, looking to push forward its hardware and engineering services business. Donatelli is now responsible for the company's server, storage, networking and tape businesses, as well as its engineered systems, the company said at the time. In March, Donatelli left HP, a company he had been with since 2009, first as head of the company's enterprise hardware business and then as the man in charge of identifying early-stage startups for investment. Before that, he spent more than 22 years at EMC.

Sue Barsamian

Channel veteran Sue Barsamian got a new role at HP this year, with the vendor tapping the executive to lead its security software business in August. Barsamian is best-known in the channel for leading HP's indirect enterprise channel sales for the past two years. Her title is now vice president of enterprise security products for HP Software, responsible for security go-to-market and delivery of product and services. In September, HP announced that former Terremark CEO and Senior Vice President of HP Cloud Kerry Bailey would be stepping in to fill Barsamian's vacant role as channel chief.

George Kurian

In June, NetApp named a new CEO in George Kurian after ousting previous CEO Tom Georgens. Before the promotion, Kurian served as executive vice president of product operations for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company. Georgens' removal comes on the heels of dropping revenues and a slowdown in both commercial and channel businesses at NetApp. The move got a thumbs-up from partners, who said at the time that Kurian could help breathe some much needed life and growth into the NetApp business.

Stephen DiFranco

As HP readied for its split into enterprise and PC/printer companies, the company lost longtime executive Stephen DiFranco, who left the company in June for a role at chipmaker Broadcom. DiFranco most recently served as vice president of Americas enterprise channels at HP. He is now senior vice president of worldwide channels for the Internet of Things at Broadcom. Partners at the time praised DiFranco's channel friendliness and said he most likely made the move to jump on the opportunity to tackle a new challenge.

Renee James

As part of a massive reorganization at the company this year, Intel announced that President Renee James would be stepping down by the end of the year. James had been with the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company for 28 years, and said she would be pursuing a role as CEO at another company, though which company that will be has yet to be announced. Her departure came alongside sweeping changes at the company, designed to ramp up its focus on mobility and communications.

Bob Skelley

In April, Dell lost channel chief Bob Skelley, who jumped ship to join Cambridge, Mass.-based Infinio. Skelley, who most recently served as executive director of North American channel sales at Dell, is now vice president of channel sales for the storage performance technology developer. At Inifinio, Skelley has been charged with helping the company develop its first partner program. Skelley told CRN at the time that the challenge of developing a channel program was a huge draw for him.

3PAR Execs Leave HP

After their company was acquired by Hewlett-Packard five years ago, 3PAR senior executives David Scott (pictured) and Peter Slocum announced they would be retiring as of Feb. 28 and March 6, respectively. Scott had served as CEO of 3PAR before the acquisition, most recently serving as HP Storage senior vice president. Slocum most recently served as HP vice president of engineering for 3PAR, Fremont, Calif. The departures came on the heels of a period of strong growth for 3PAR, which saw double-digit channel growth rates in spite of an overall decline in HP's storage business over the past three years.

In March, HP announced former NetApp veteran Manish Goel would replace Scott as senior vice president and general manager of HP Storage.

S undar Pichai

A surprise reorganization of Google in August, which created holding company Alphabet, established a new chain of leadership at the company. Leading Alphabet, which now owns Google, are co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Now leading Google as CEO is 11-year company veteran Sundar Pichai, who most recently served as product chief. Pichai will now oversee Google's many business lines, including search, ads, maps, the Google Play Store, YouTube, Android and Google's cloud business. Partners cheered the move at the time, saying Pichai is the right man for the job and has the abilities to take the company to the next level within the enterprise.

Christopher Doggett

At the end of the year, Kaspersky Lab lost its top North American executive with the departure of North American Managing Director and President Christopher Doggett. The executive is well-known in the channel, previously having served as senior vice president of corporate sales for North America and vice president of channel sales for North America for Kaspersky. Doggett left the Moscow-based security vendor to take a role as senior vice president of global sales at Carbonite, where he said he is looking to help the backup and disaster recovery company to a channel-first model. At the same time, Kaspersky also lost North American channel chief John Murdock to cloud software company Centage, though both executives maintain that the departures were unrelated.

Lance Crosby

After joining Dallas-based SoftLayer in 2010 and helping it build into a cloud powerhouse within IBM, CEO Lance Crosby announced in January that he was resigning. Crosby came to SoftLayer when the company merged with The Planet, where he was COO. Since joining, he helped evangelize and develop the company's cloud offerings, as well as integrate them into the IBM portfolio. The departure of Crosby comes as he was passed over as the leader for IBM's cloud division, when the company named Robert LeBlanc as senior vice president of Cloud.

Art Coviello

After retiring from Beford, Mass.-based RSA earlier this year, former Executive Chairman Art Coviello landed a new position in the security market at early-stage investment firm Rally Ventures, Menlo Park, Calif. Coviello announced his retirement from RSA in February, citing health reasons. In his new role, Coviello will help the early-stage investment firm evaluate and choose investments, with a particular focus on helping expand its portfolio of enterprise security investments.

Holly Rollo

This year, Fortinet kicked off a massive new marketing push, looking to fill what partners said has historically been a gap in the company's go-to-market approach. In September, the company hired former FireEye executive Holly Rollo to lead the charge as chief marketing officer. The CMO role is a new one for Fortinet, Sunnyvale, Calif., whose marketing efforts were previously led by Luanne Tierney, who left in June for a position at Proofpoint. Rollo brings with her a strong history of brand repositioning, marketing organization transformations and helping vendors evolve to new business models. Rollo told CRN at the time that she plans to put those talents to use, evolving Fortinet's competitive position by transforming and differentiating its marketing engine. Partners at the time cheered the appointment, saying adding more emphasis on marketing is a "step in the right direction" for the security vendor.

Jeff Williams

Filling a position that has been vacant since Tim Cook was named CEO in 2011, Apple appointed 17-year company veteran Jeff Williams chief operating officer. Williams has played a critical role at Apple in his long tenure at the Cupertino, Calif.-based company, responsible for managing the company's supply chain and service and support, as well as overseeing the development of the Apple Watch and health-care initiatives. He also played a key role in the entrance of Apple into the mobile market with the iPhone. At the same time, Apple promoted Johny Srouji to the post of senior vice president for hardware technologies. Partners cheered the move, saying it put more executives with control over the key partner technologies, such as iPads and MacBooks, at the decision-making table.

Manny Rivelo

Manny Rivelo became CEO of F5 Networks on July 1, replacing longtime CEO John McAdam, who was retiring. However, just six months later, the executive abruptly resigned, a move that partners said left them scratching their heads. An SEC filing announcing the news said the resignation was "not due to any disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company's operations, policies or practices." He was replaced at the Seattle-based company in the interim by McAdam (who still serves as chairman of the board) as the board initiates a search process for a permanent replacement.