The 25 Blockbuster Channel Executive Moves Of 2016

Seeking A Fresh Start

Many key vendors took a big hit to their channel organizations in 2016, as Arista Networks, Dell Technologies, Fortinet, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Lenovo, Oracle, Symantec and Verizon Enterprise Solutions all lost key channel executives. Distributors and solution providers also suffered some brain drain, with four CEO departures, two COO departures and one president-level departure this year.

But the news wasn't all negative, as two indirect sales leaders at Dell Technologies, along with executives at Intel Security and Microsoft, received promotions and additional responsibilities. Palo Alto Networks, meanwhile, brought in a new channel leader from the outside.

Solution providers and distributors also got in on the action, with one company promoting from within to fill a CEO vacancy, while four others named people from the outside as CEO or a key practice leader.

Read on to relive all the key channel executive moves in 2016.

John Byrne

Dell EMC in September named John Byrne as president of its global channels operation, tasking the 28-year sales veteran with combining two different channel organizations as part of the largest IT acquisition in history.

Byrne was brought into Round Rock, Texas-based Dell in July 2015 as global vice president of sales strategy and operations, with oversight of Dell's channel added to his position in October 2015.

In his first months on the job, Byrne has been meeting with partners, building out the company's channel organization and making decisions about programs and personnel.

He has had a number of key decisions to make regarding the shape and character of Dell EMC's new combined channel program, which is set to launch Feb. 1.

Mark Slaga

Dimension Data Americas CEO Mark Slaga left the company in December, the latest in a series of sweeping changes at the Johannesburg, South Africa-based systems integrator, No. 11 on the CRN Solution Provider 500.

Slaga has been replaced by Dimension Data Europe CEO Andrew Coulsen, who will oversee both European and American operations. Coulsen has been running the show in Europe since October 2009.

Sources told CRN that the changes are part of a push by Dimension Data to move from wholly-operated units in each geographic region to operating globally, with finance operations centered in South Africa. Under this new structure, there would only be a top sales leader in each region, the source said.

Slaga had been CEO of Dimension Data Americas since July 2013. He had been with the company since 2000 in a variety of technical and operating leadership roles.

Chris Frey

Chris Frey, a 10-year Lenovo veteran, left the company in October, vacating his spot as the head of the Beijing, China-based vendor's commercial sales operations just 16 months after taking an expanded role as vice president and general manager of commercial sales.

Frey had overseen all North America sales and, as head of Lenovo's North American commercial channel, was charged with significantly expanding Lenovo's footprint in large commercial accounts.

In the wake of Frey's departure, Emilio Ghilardi, president of Lenovo North America, added acting commercial PC general manager to his duties. Meanwhile, the commercial data center team began reporting to Cliff Gumkowski, vice president, North America Data Center Group sales.

Bill Amelio

Avnet named interim CEO and former Lenovo executive Bill Amelio as its permanent CEO in September as the Phoenix-based distributor looked to boost shareholder returns and accelerate adoption of emerging technologies.

Amelio was named interim CEO in July when Rick Hamada stepped down after five years as the company's CEO. A spokeswoman said at the time that Avnet's board believed a leadership change was needed to accelerate growth, drive a greater sense of urgency and enhance the company's focus on execution.

One of Amelio's first moves was finalizing the $2.6 billion sale of Avnet's $9.65 billion Technology Solutions (TS) business to distribution competitor Tech Data. Once the deal closes in the first half of 2017, Amelio will be left overseeing Avnet's semiconductor-focused Electronics Marketing business.

Phil Sorgen

Microsoft's Phil Sorgen left his role as global channel chief in May, taking a position as corporate vice president of the U.S. Enterprise and Partner Group. He previously held the title of corporate vice president of the worldwide partner group.

Sorgen had held the global channel chief role since September 2013, after leading the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant's small and midmarket solutions and partner business in the U.S. since 2009.

Microsoft announced in June that Worldwide Partner Group General Manager Gavriella Schuster would take over as Sorgen's permanent replacement. Schuster will be tasked with guiding tens of thousands of partners as they transition to a cloud solutions business model and tackle the Windows 10 upgrade cycle.

Gordon Coburn

Cognizant's Gordon Coburn stepped down in September after two decades with the solution provider as the Teaneck, N.J.-based company, No. 7 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, launched an investigation into whether it violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Coburn's resignation came after more than four years in the role. He joined Cognizant in 1996 as the company's senior director of group finance and operations and worked his way up the ranks, spending many years as the company's chief financial officer.

Cognizant did not indicate what, if any, connection exists between Coburn's resignation and the probe around possible improper payments related to facilities in India.

Coburn was replaced by Raj Mehta, who had served as CEO of Cognizant's IT Services division since December 2013.

John Thompson

Symantec's channel leadership saw more changes in October as the company announced the departure of channel chief John Thompson amid a company-wide restructuring initiative.

The realignment, according to the company, takes Mountain View, Calif.-based 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.

As a result of the restructuring, Thompson, head of worldwide channels, left the company in mid-December. Thompson joined Symantec in June 2014 from Cisco, where he was global vice president of strategic partners.

Paul Read

Just six days after announcing plans to become part of Hainan, China-based HNA Group, Ingram Micro said in February that president and chief operating officer Paul Read would be leaving the company.

Read left the Irvine, Calif.-based distributor in September, and there is no plan in place for a successor. Since HNA wanted current CEO Alain Monie to continue leading the company for some time, a company spokesman said Read re-evaluated what his future was at Ingram Micro.

After the HNA deal closed in December, two more Ingram Micro executives announced plans to depart the company: Chief Financial Officer William Humes; and Executive Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel Larry Boyd.

Gary Koopman

Gary Koopman was one of several Oracle sales and channel executives to be laid off in July.

He was group vice president of alliances and channels in Oracle's North America sales group, responsible for managing a team of 85 channel sales executives for the Redwood City, Calif.-based vendor. Koopman joined Oracle four years ago from Hewlett-Packard, where he was vice president of U.S. distribution.

Koopman launched his own channel consulting practice for technology vendors and solution providers in September, according to LinkedIn.

Sources close to Oracle told CRN that the executive layoffs, as well as between 225 and 300 other employees in the group, supports the company's plans to push more cloud licensing sales directly.

Ashok Vemuri

In June, Ashok Vermuri was tapped to lead Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Conduent, the $7 billion services business that will begin operations at the start of 2017 once the Xerox split is finalized.

Vemuri served as president and CEO of Bridgewater, N.J.-based iGate from September 2013 to October 2015, steering the company through its sale to Paris-based Capgemini in April 2015 for $4 billion.

Before joining iGate, Vemuri spent 14 years at consulting and IT services company Infosys, where he served in several leadership and business development roles.

Conduent, currently Xerox Global Services, is No. 9 on the CRN Solution Provider 500.

Adam Famularo

Verizon Enterprise Solutions lost popular channel chief Adam Famularo, who said in March that he would be leaving the company April 1 to become CEO of Erwin, Inc., a data modeling software company.

Famularo had held the vice president of global channels role at the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based company for 18 months and was succeeded by channel favorite Janet Schijns.

In his new role at Erwin, Famularo said he hopes to build a nimbler company and add hundreds of new partners, as well as helping current partners grow their businesses.

This appointment came at a time of change for Erwin, which was acquired by private equity firm Parallax Capital Partners on March 1 from CA Technologies.

Rich Hume

Rich Hume, a 32-year IBM stalwart, was brought to Tech Data in March to serve as the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor's first-ever chief operating officer.

Hume was brought in to help Tech Data share best sales, logistics and product management practices across all geographies, Tech Data CEO Bob Dutkowsky told CRN. The distributor's IT functions have been siloed by region, leaving Dutkowsky as the only executive with a comprehensive view of how Tech Data goes to market around the globe.

In July, Hume was designated as Tech Data's representative for the due diligence process leading up to the distributor's $2.6 billion acquisition of Avnet Technology Solutions (TS), which closed in September. Hume is now leading the team overseeing the integration process between the two distributors.

David Peranich

Palo Alto Networks said in August that it had nabbed former Riverbed Technology executive David Peranich to serve as executive vice president of worldwide sales.

Peranich will now be responsible for the security vendor's sales and channel organization's go-to-market strategy, leveraging his background in sales, channels and operations roles at Riverbed, where he worked from 2006 to 2015.

The appointment was announced at Palo Alto's sales kick off event in Nashville, Tenn. He replaces Mark Anderson, who will now serve as president at Palo Alto Networks.

Phil Norton

After 23 years at the head of ePlus, CEO Phil Norton announced in July that he would be stepping down, moving to the newly-created position of executive chairman.

Norton had led ePlus, No. 34 on the CRN SP 500, from just $42.8 million of annual revenue in 1996, when the company first went public, to $1.2 billion of sales in 2016.

As executive chairman, Norton will remain involved with ePlus, the company said, helping consult around strategy, acquisitions, transactions within the financing segment, and engaging with clients. Norton joined ePlus as CEO in 1993 from NetIQ, where he was senior vice president of worldwide sales.

Norton was replaced Aug. 1 by longtime Chief Operating Officer Mark Marron. Marron had been with ePlus for 11 years.

Gregg Ambulos

Following the close of its blockbuster EMC acquisition in September, Dell Technologies named Gregg Ambulos to be the company's North American channel chief – part of a new leadership roster under global channel chief John Byrne.

Ambulos, who was EMC's channel chief before the acquisition, reports to Byrne. He will also interact with Bill Rodriguez, Dell's head of North America sales, and Chris Riley, senior enterprise sales executive who reports directly to Bill Scannell, president of enterprise sales.

Cheryl Cook, who was Dell's channel chief before the EMC acquisition, will lead the company's global channel marketing efforts, reporting to marketing senior vice president Nina Hargus.

Andy Bryant

Arrow Electronics said in January that Chief Operating Officer Andy Bryant would be retiring from the Centennial, Colo.-based distributor at the end of April.

Bryant had served as COO of the company's global components and global enterprise computing solutions (ECS) businesses since 2014. He joined Arrow in 2008 as president of the company's ECS business.

Following Bryant's retirement, Andy King, president of Arrow's global components business, and Sean Kerins, president of Arrow's ECS business, are reporting directly to CEO Mike Long.

Robert Vrij

HPE said in August that Robert Vrij, managing director of Americas sales, would leave the company by the end of 2016. He will be replaced by Jim Merritt, who currently leads HPE's Asia-Pacific and Japan sales.

Vrij joined HPE in 2013 from Alcatel-Lucent, where he was executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing and president of Alcatel-Lucent USA from 2008 to 2013.

Prior to that, Vrij was president and CEO of Openwave Systems Inc., and held senior global sales positions with Genband Inc. and Lucent Technologies Inc.

Dan Stone

Dan Stone was promoted to be CompuCom's next CEO after 22 months on the job.

Stone joined Plano, Texas-based CompuCom in early 2015 to lead its end-user enablement division, which helps IT executives manage the convergence of next-generation technologies like social interaction, mobility, big data and cloud. Some of the services under Stone's purview in that role included asset lifecycle management, enterprise mobility solutions and IT staffing.

Before joining CompuCom Stone spent a little more than a year as president and general manager of Lenovo's $3 billion Latin American division. Stone served in a variety of roles at Lenovo between 2007 and 2015, including chief strategy officer, where he developed and implemented a strategy for technology investments, partnerships and alliances.

Ken McCray

Ken McCray was named as Intel Security's new Americas channel chief in January, replacing Fernando Quintero, who assumed a role as head of Latin America. McCray is now serving as head of channel sales and operations for the Americas.

McCray most recently served as senior director of the Americas Channel team, overseeing corporate resellers, distribution partners and the inside channel account team.

With a strong reputation in the channel, McCray told CRN at the time that he believes he will be a stabilizing force for partners as the company works to transform its strategy to one centered on the pillars of "protect, detect and correct."

Kelly Bissell

Accenture moved all of its security resources under the same department, naming former Deloitte executive Kelly Bissell to lead the new security practice as global managing director for Accenture's security unit.

Bissell joined the Dublin, Ireland-based company, No. 2 on the CRN SP 500, after nearly 14 years at Deloitte, where he led cyber-risk services across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

In the new role, Bissell has been tasked with growing Accenture's security practice to more than $1 billion in revenue, up from between $500 million and $1 billion today.

Bissell would do this by growing Accenture's presence in areas such as mobile security and traditional governance, as well as risk and compliance consulting, the company said.

Peter Brant

Network security vendor Fortinet confirmed in March that enterprise sales chief Peter Brant had left the company. Brant had served as senior vice president of Americas enterprise sales.

Brant's departure came just a few months after Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Fortinet announced a reorganization of its sales force, which eliminated the U.S. enterprise team and redistributed it into two groups under a single, unified sales force. That integrated sales force is led by Patrice Perche, senior executive vice president of worldwide sales and support.

Brant took a position in March at F5 Networks as senior vice president of North America sales.

Paul Lidsky

Paul Lidsky will be departing as CEO of data center solution provider Datalink as part of Insight Enterprises' proposed $258 million acquisition. Lidsky has served as CEO at Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Datalink, No. 45 on the CRN SP 500, since July 2009.

Lidsky will stay on with the company through the first quarter of 2017 to help the integration process between Insight and Datalink. He will receive a $200,000 cash bonus if he serves as a consultant for at least 60 days after the close of the deal, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Insight's acquisition of Datalink is expected to close in January.

Todd Dalton

Arista Networks channel chief Todd Dalton left the company in April as the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor looks to put a greater emphasis on outbound direct sales, sources told CRN at the time.

Dalton had been with Arista since April 2013, when he joined the company from Juniper Networks. According to his LinkedIn profile, Dalton has taken a position as senior director of North America channel sales at Pluribus Networks.

Partners have said they feel Arista is shifting to a more direct sales strategy and they have seen the vendor make cuts to its channel field reps and inside channel sales team, a push they attributed to CEO Jayshree Ullal.

Nitin Rakesh

Nitin Rakesh resigned in November as president and CEO of Syntel after 30 months in the position. He was replaced by the Chief Operating Officer Rakesh Khanna on an interim basis.

While serving as the head of the Troy, Mich.-based company – No. 38 on the CRN SP 500 – Rakesh was among the channel's most highly compensated solution provider CEOs, according to financial filings reviewed by CRN.

However, since issuing a $15 special dividend on Oct. 3, Syntel's stock has lost nearly 55 percent of its value and is now trading at its lowest price in more than six years.

According to a source familiar with the situation, Rakesh's resignation was a personal choice.

Frank Vitagliano

Frank Vitagliano left Dell Technologies in December look at new opportunities in the channel.

Vitagliano joined Dell nearly four years ago as vice president of channel sales, bringing the company much-needed channel credibility as it accelerated its transformation into a channel superpower.

Vitagliano said the timing for his departure was right given that Dell completed the acquisition of EMC in September – the largest acquisition in IT history – and is set to unveil a unified channel program that will go into effect Feb. 1.

Before joining Dell, Vitagliano spent seven years at Juniper Networks, where he was senior vice president of worldwide channels, and 33 years at IBM, working steadily up the ranks to become Big Blue's vice president of worldwide channels.