The 25 Most Influential Executives Of 2016

The Cream Of The Technology Crop

The tech industry is one of constant change, dictated by evolving customer needs and driven by technological advances. But nothing moves forward without the influence of innovative leaders who not only recognize those needs, but identify the right people and products to meet them.

Here is our list of the 25 most influential executives of 2016, the executives through their vision, passion and fire have set the agenda for the channel and for the tech industry as a whole.

Be sure to also visit the complete list of The Top 100 Executives Of 2016.

25. Ginni Rometty

Chairman, President, CEO


How does one go about drastically transforming a sprawling and iconic company that’s been a cutting-edge leader for more than a century? In Ginni Rometty’s case, with bold moves and a grand vision for a business environment dependent on intelligent computing. It’s not an easy process, but Rometty is fighting off the doubters as she looks to the future of IBM, the cloud and cognitive computing.

24. James Kavanaugh


World Wide Technology

As a former professional soccer player and current investor in the St. Louis Blues NHL team, James Kavanaugh understands the importance of being at the top of your game. That's why he's spent the last 26 years turning WWT into one of the perennial solution provider powerhouses, earning top partner status with Cisco Systems, EMC, Microsoft and a number of the industry's other key vendors. No. 12 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, WWT was Cisco's Global Solution Innovation Partner of the Year in 2016, one of 10 awards it earned from its top vendor partner this year.

Kavanaugh has led WWT’s effort in hiring 2,200 new employees over the past three years, while also increasing annual revenues more than 15 percent in 2015 to $7.4 billion.

23. Kevin Gilroy

Executive VP, Samsung Business

Samsung Electronics America

Kevin Gilroy, who has had a big channel footprint at companies such as SAP and Hewlett-Packard, joined Samsung a year ago to oversee its business division. The channel stalwart is now working to grow its sales in that segment from 15 percent of its global revenue to 40 percent – and is ensuring that channel partners play a big role in that growth.

22. Michael Long

Chairman, President and CEO

Arrow Electronics

Michael Long has led Arrow's transformation into a software-driven company, and it is already paying dividends to the tune of 36 percent year-over-year software sales growth. Long has also helped Arrow stake a claim in the cloud, with revenue nearly doubling on an annual basis in the complex and sophisticated enterprise data center space.

21. Kevin Murai

President, CEO


Kevin Murai has kept Synnex one step ahead of the pack, launching a public safety practice focused on equipping law enforcement personnel with cutting-edge technology and expanding its security footprint to include managed security services and Intel Security offerings. He also has helped Synnex tighten its bond with Dell in the federal space and Lenovo around Motorola smartphones.

20. Pat Gelsinger



Pat Gelsinger over the past year not only managed to avoid distractions caused by Dell's plans to acquire VMware's parent company, EMC, he actually oversaw solid growth over the past year. That is no mean feat given that VMware may be EMC's single-most valuable asset, and one whose value depends on it remaining independent of any one vendor.

19. Thomas Richards

Chairman, CEO


Thomas Richards has raised the stakes by expanding CDW's partnership with Dell to include all products and services across the globe, which is expected to boost 2016 sales by $200 million. Richards also has dramatically grown CDW's overseas capabilities by acquiring U.K.-based Kelway, bring in $50 million in business in the first six months after the deal closed last August.

18. Yang Yuanquing



After engineering a high-profile management shakeup in March and pushing the company to be more aggressive and price competitive, Yang Yuanquing is now paving the way for Lenovo to capitalize on hot markets such as hyper-convergence and mobile devices.

17. Zach Nelson



The cloud software pioneer has been burnishing its midmarket credibility under Zach Nelson’s leadership, expanding a portfolio that’s powering the back offices of a class of businesses that have the most to gain from the cloud. NetSuite has now amassed more than 30,000 customers running its business software around the world and, for the first time in its history, is projecting a $1 billion run rate. It's no wonder Oracle's moving to acquire the company for $9.3 billion as it moves to establish it's own cloud cred.

16. William Stemper


Comcast Business Services

Under William Stemper's leadership, the Business Services unit has been a shining star for Comcast, delivering 20 percent revenue growth or higher in for each of the last four years as the company continues to see big upticks in sales of Internet, phone and TV services to small and midsize businesses.

15. George Kurian



When George Kurian took the CEO reins about one year ago, NetApp's finances and credibility were on a downward spiral. Kurian fixed the credibility issue by steering his company past product upgrade issues, transitioning it for future flash and cloud storage capabilities, and successfully executing the surprise acquisition of all-flash storage vendor SolidFire. Now he's turning is keen eye toward improving sales and profits.

14. Kris Hagerman



Kris Hagerman is pushing Sophos to new heights, first with the fall launch of Security Heartbeat – the vendor's vision for integrating endpoint and network security – and then with the May rollout of a new program that ports that technology to a managed services model, giving channel partners total flexibility in how they deliver synchronized security. When a CEO literally puts "channel" into his company's mission statement, it's pretty clear where he stands on the importance of partnership.

13. Greg Clark



Now that Symantec has completed its $4.65 billion acquisition of Blue Coat, it is Greg Clark who sits at the top of the security behemoth as its new CEO. Clark has more than proven his mettle, successfully shepherding Blue Coat through the process of going private when it was acquired by an investment group five years ago and continually driving the company's channel-friendly focus as he worked to integrate a number of its own acquisitions since then.

12. Christopher Formant

SVP, Global President

Verizon Enterprise Solutions

Formant has been heads down since joining Verizon two years ago driving sales, operations and marketing to grow the company's cloud and security businesses. His big push now is in the Internet of Things, where he planted Verizon's flag last fall with the launch of the company's ThingSpace IoT development platform. His efforts are paying off, with Verizon reporting 25 percent year-over-year growth in its IoT business in its latest quarterly financial results.

11. Larry Ellison

Executive Chairman, CTO


It’s been almost two years since Larry Ellison stepped down from the top job at Oracle, but it would be hard to make the argument the iconic mogul’s influence has waned an inch at the company he founded. If anything, the CTO role appears to be liberating for Ellison, an engineer at heart who’s relishing the project of moving Oracle’s technology into the cloud he once mocked.

10. Mark Mclaughlin

Palo Alto Networks


No CEO in the security business has done a better job of fueling subscription and services sales growth for partners. Mark McLaughlin has Palo Alto Networks firing on all cylinders and delivering more and more security functionality across its platform, including stellar growth for its Traps endpoint product. And Palo Alto Networks' NextWave partner program has many partners shifting their business away from legacy vendors.

9. Andy Jassy

Amazon Web Services


Andy Jassy has done the impossible -- putting Amazon Web Services on track to break the $10 billion sales barrier even faster than Amazon's market-rattling e-commerce business. Jassy has AWS moving faster than any and all competitors. For his success in keeping AWS on top of his game, Jassy was named CEO of AWS in April. Even with all of AWS' success, Jassy says the high-flying business is still at the "relative beginning" of the cloud revolution.

8. Brian Krzanich



Under Brian Krzanich's leadership, Intel's channel commitment is stronger than it has ever been with the chip giant looking to partners to drive a new era of Internet of Things, data center and cloud dominance. Krzanich, in fact, sees the channel as critical in helping Intel develop a new generation of cutting-edge products. And Intel's channel team expects to see double-digit growth for partners in 2016.

7. Satya Nadella



Satya Nadella's soaring cloud savvy Microsoft is a far cry from the Microsoft of old. Microsoft's commercial cloud business is on a $12.1 billion run rate delivering 42 percent margins. That business is on track to achieve $20 billion in revenue by 2018. Look for Nadella to deliver even more breakthrough new cloud functionality after Microsoft completes its $26.3 billion acquisition of LinkedIn later this year.

6. Dion Weisler


HP Inc.

Since taking the helm at HP Inc. last November, Dion Weisler has doubled down on innovation and channel commitment. Among his biggest technology game-changers are the JetFusion 3-D printer for the manufacturing market and the new Elite x3 Windows 10 device. At the same time, Weisler is aiming to increase the percentage of channel sales at the $55 billion company from 80 percent to 87 percent of total sales by the end of the year. Bottom line: Weisler is doing what it takes to drive a PC, mobile and printing channel renaissance.

5. Marc Benioff

Chairman, CEO

The cloud computing kingpin just keeps delivering and delivering and delivering stellar sales growth. Marc Benioff has Salesforce firmly on track to become the first Software-as-a-Service company to break the $10 billion mark. The hard-driving software titan and philanthropist is set to take his war against Oracle and SAP to another level with a move to team with Amazon Web Services. The company already has moved its Heroku app development platform to AWS and is developing an Internet of Things platform on that cloud as well.

4. Diane Green

Senior Vice President

Google Enterprise Business

In just nine months on the job, former VMware founder and CEO Diane Greene has made big changes as part of an all-out offensive aimed at making Google an enterprise computing power. Google partners, for their part, say Greene is bringing the same channel commitment she used to make VMware the undisputed virtualization market leader to Google. They say Greene is the kind of channel advocate Google needs to give Amazon and Microsoft a run for their money.

3. Chuck Robbins


Cisco Systems

Talk about moving fast. Entering just his second year at the helm, Chuck Robbins has put in place a software revolution of sorts with a new software subscription model for its bread-and-butter networking business. The big bet transforms the $180 billion Cisco network switching and routing installed base into a high-growth, next-generation, hybrid cloud computing network on steroids. The plan has received high marks from partners who see Robbins as the ultimate ally in their bid to transform their business for the cloud era.

2. Michael Dell



No one is making a bigger and bolder bet to grab channel market share than Michael Dell. After completing the largest leveraged buyout in tech history nearly three years ago, Dell is now poised to complete the largest IT acquisition in history with the $60 billion acquisition of EMC and VMware. The blockbuster deal creates an $80 billion IT behemoth with across-the-board strength in client, midmarket and enterprise markets. Dell has already proven his channel and technology mettle. Anyone who doubts he has what it takes is simply ignoring the entrepreneur-turned-industry-icon's impressive 32-year track record of keeping his namesake company out in front.

1. Meg Whitman


Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Being successful in the cloud computing era means reinventing and innovating at a breakneck pace. That is what Meg Whitman has done with Hewlett Packard Enterprise—splitting the company apart from HP Inc. last year and then making a blockbuster deal to merge HPE's $20 billion Enterprise Services Group with systems integration giant CSC. Whitman's plan to turn around HPE is starting to pay off. In the most recent quarter, HPE posted its first year-over-year quarterly sales growth in five years. Thanks to Whitman, HPE is pushing the technology envelope again with its best infrastructure product portfolio in more than a decade—including the new composable Synergy architecture, wireless technology from Aruba, all-flash prowess from 3Par, and market-leading Intel based Internet of Things systems.