The 25 Blockbuster IT Executive Moves Of 2017

A Year Of Changes

2017 marked another busy year for IT executives. New CEOs and presidents took over at several top vendors and solution providers, including the likes of HPE, Dell EMC, Docker and Ruckus Wireless, while a slew of channel chiefs landed with new companies or earned promotions.

With the changes from the top to the bottom arrive new strategies, reorganizations and cost cutbacks designed to position the vendors and their partner ecosystems for success in the coming months As we get ready for 2018, take a walk back through who was in, and who was out, during the year that was.

Read on for CRN's recap of the biggest executive moves that went down in the channel.

Get more of CRN's 2017 tech year in review.

Rohit Ghai

RSA named former EMC Enterprise Content Division leader Rohit Ghai as its new president in January. He replaced former president Amit Yoran, who left in December to take the top job at Tenable Network Security, a Columbia, Md.-based security startup.

Ghai had been president of Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC's Enterprise Content Division since December 2014. Dell announced in September that it planned to sell the division to Canadian information management company OpenText for $1.6 billion.

Ghai assumed the post at Bedford, Mass.-based RSA on Jan. 23 when the deal to sell the Enterprise Content Division closed.

Gerry Smith

Lenovo lost its Chief Operating Officer when Gerry Smith departed the computer and mobile device company to become CEO of retailer Office Depot.

Smith served as COO at Lenovo for less than three months and had just been appointed as the head of the company's PC business in November 2016.

His departure comes amidst a number of executive moves at the Beijing-based company. Chris Frey, Lenovo's commercial sales chief, left the company in October after just 18 months in the position.

Lenovo hired former Intel senior vice president Kirk Skaugen in November as Data Center Group president.

Denzil Samuels

HPE Global Sales Chief Phil Davis named HPE Global Channel Chief Denzil Samuels to oversee a new combined channel and alliances organization in January.

Under the restructuring, HPE combined all indirect organizations (value-added resellers, channel programs/operations, big system integrators, India IT conglomerates, top ISV alliances, Internet of Things, and OEM partnerships) under a single Channel and Alliances organization headed by Samuels, who reports to Davis.

Among Samuels' direct reports is George Hope, the former top global sales executive for SimpliVity, which was acquired by HPE earlier this year. Hope will oversee HPE's top partner accounts and channel enablement.

Dominic Orr

Dominic Orr, 66, retired as president of Aruba Networks in January after a decade with the Santa Clara, Calif.-based networking giant.

Orr's departure comes nearly two years after Aruba was acquired by Hewlett-Packard, now Hewlett Packard Enterprise, in a $3 billion deal.

Aruba's sales organization – including marketing, business operations, customer advocacy, operations, and supply chain – began reporting to company founder and CTO Keerti Melkote in February. Melkote was previously responsible only for Aruba's technology strategy.

Francois Locoh-Donou

Francois Locoh-Donou took over as president and CEO of Seattle-based F5 Networks following the April retirement of F5 top executive John McAdam.

Locoh-Donou held leadership posts at network strategy and technology company Ciena, based in Hanover, Md., for more than a decade, most recently serving as COO. Before that, Locoh-Donou was senior vice president of Ciena's global products group and vice president and general manager of its EMEA business.

Before that, Locoh-Donou held research and development roles with Photonetics, a French optoelectronics company.

Bill Rodrigues

The president of Dell EMC North America, Bill Rodrigues, departed in April after 18 years at the company. Taking over the role as of May 8 was David Schmoock, president of Dell's end-user computing business.

Rodrigues is credited with serving as an advocate for the channel during a crucial period for Dell. He was initially hired as a vice president and general manager to head the Round Rock, Tex.-based company's K-12 education business.

Before that, Rodrigues spent 21 years at IBM, including serving as general manager for global education in North America.

Schmoock has spent a total of 14 years with Dell. His first stint with Dell lasted from 1997 to 2006, before departing to become chief information officer and senior vice president of Lenovo Singapore. Schmoock ultimately became president of Lenovo North America, before returning to Dell in November 2012.

Joe Eazor

Former EarthLink CEO Joe Eazor was appointed in May as the new CEO of Rackspace.

Eazor officially began his tenure running the cloud hosting and managed services provider on June 12, according to a statement from San Antonio-based Rackspace. He succeeds Taylor Rhodes, who left in May to take the CEO role at Chicago-based SMS Assist, a multisite property management technology company.

Eazor previously led Atlanta-based EarthLink for three years, through the telecommunication provider's acquisition by Windstream at the end of 2016. Before that, Eazor ran global sales and customer operations for nearly two years at Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC.

Selina Lo

Selina Lo, the CEO of Ruckus Wireless since 2004, departed the company at the end of May.

The departure followed the sale of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Ruckus to Brocade Communications in May 2016 for $1.2 billion – and the news that Ruckus will again change hands later this summer, ultimately coming under the ownership of Suwanee, Ga.-based Arris International.

Lo oversaw the growth of Ruckus into a nearly $400 million wireless vendor and led the company through its initial public offering in 2012 – and more recently through a period of change and uncertainty.

Brocade said that Lo is entering retirement, with Ruckus COO Dan Rabinovitsj taking control of the Ruckus business unit inside Arris. Before Ruckus, Lo was vice president of marketing and product management for Alteon Websystems, which went public in 1999 and was acquired by Nortel in 2000 for $7.8 billion.

Ben Golub

Docker co-founder Ben Golub moved to the company's board of directors in May, with board chairman Steve Singh becoming the company's CEO.

Golub said in a blog post that his "heart lies in startups" and that "different leaders are needed at different stages in a company's history." Golub worked at six different startups before joining Docker, holding the CEO role at three of those startups.

Golub had been Docker's CEO since April 2013, growing the open-source software container platform developer to 330 employees with millions of developers using its technology.

Singh was president of SAP's Business Networks and Applications operations until late April. He joined SAP when it acquired Concur in 2014.

Glen Post

CenturyLink CEO Glen Post, who led the company 25 years, stepped down in June. Jeff Storey, Level 3 Communications' current president and CEO, will take the helm of the newly-merged company when CenturyLink closes its pending acquisition of Level 3.

Storey will join the newly combined company as president and chief operating officer. Post will stay on as CEO after the deal closes until Jan. 1, 2019, after which Post will become executive chairman of the company's board of directors, according to the two companies.

Monroe, La.-based CenturyLink's $34 billion cash and stock purchase of Broomfield, Colo.-based Level 3 closed on Nov. 1.

Post has been focused on bolstering network and cloud services and building the carrier's presence in the enterprise space. CenturyLink and Level 3 have emphasized that the combined company would earn 76 percent of its revenue from business customers.

Jason Stein

Kaspersky Lab named Jason Stein its new head of North American channels in July. He had joined earlier in the month as vice president of channel at Kaspersky Lab North America.

Stein filled the position formerly held by North American channel chief Leslie Bois, who left the company in December to head up Veracode's channel. The Kaspersky channel had been led in the interim by Senior Vice President for B2B Sales Michael Canavan.

Stein joined Kaspersky from Tier 4 Advisors, where he was vice president of channel. Before that, he held channel leadership roles at Effortless Office and PSI Network.

Janet Schijns

The channel chief at Verizon, Janet Schijns, departed the company in July. Verizon veteran Joe Chuisano has succeeded her in the role.

Schijns had served in the channel chief role since May 2016 and in Verizon's indirect sales organization for the past seven years. She has left to become chief merchant and services officer at retail giant Office Depot, where she will be building out an indirect channel to sell services from newly-acquired CompuCom to SMB customers.

Chuisano, who has worked at Verizon for 23 years, will step in as North America Verizon Business Markets channel chief. Chuisano previously served as managing director of Verizon Business Markets.

Jim DuBois

Microsoft Chief Information Officer Jim DuBois didn't return from a sabbatical as planned due at least in part to the company's reorganization.

Microsoft disclosed in early July that a new round of layoffs was underway for its sales and marketing teams, with media reports putting the number of job cuts at between 3,000 and 4,000.

DuBois had worked for Microsoft since 1993, holding a number of positions over the ensuing two decades before being named CIO in May 2013. Succeeding DuBois will be Kurt DelBene, whose title will be chief digital officer rather than CIO.

DelBene spent two decades at Microsoft before departing in 2013 for a top role overseeing He came back to Microsoft in early 2015 as executive vice president for corporate strategy and planning.

Kirill Tatarinov

Kirill Tatarinov vacated the president and CEO role at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix Systems in July following "a mutual separation decision," according to the company. Citrix gave no additional details about the reasons for the management change.

Tatarinov was hired by Citrix just 18 months earlier following more than 13 years leading Microsoft's system center and business solutions divisions. He replaced former Citrix CEO Mark Templeton, who stepped down after Citrix went through a turbulent year.

Tatarinov will be replaced by David Henshall, who initially joined Citrix as vice president and CFO in 2003. He had previously served as acting CEO and president Citrix in 2013 and 2014. Prior to joining Citrix, he had held executive roles at companies including Rational Software, Cypress Semiconductor and Samsung. The company made it clear that its appointment of Henshall as the new president and CEO was not a temporary measure.

Brandon Sweeney

VMware shuffled its executive deck in August, appointing 14-year company veteran Brandon Sweeney to its top channel post and moving Ross Brown from that position into a role focused on cloud, IoT and other emerging technologies.

Sweeney, who is credited with building VMware's channel, will serve as senior vice president of worldwide partners and alliances. His team will oversee VMware's global relationships with solution providers, distributors, telecom companies and OEMs. That will be on top of Sweeney's current responsibilities managing VMware's worldwide partner organization.

For Brown, the new role will involve leading VMware's business with systems integrators, systems outsourcers, ISVs and technology vendor partners. Brown has been at VMware for about two years as worldwide partners and alliances vice president.

Emilio Ghilardi

After less than 18 months in the job, Emilio Ghilardi stepped down as Lenovo's North America president in August.

Ghilardi joined Lenovo in July 2015 as vice president and chief operating officer of Lenovo North America. He was promoted to president for North America in April 2016. Ghilardi initially joined the company from Hewlett Packard, where he worked for more than three years.

Peter Ryan

Hewlett Packard Enterprise disclosed that Peter Ryan stepped down from his role as the company's chief sales officer as of Sept. 1. Ryan departed to move back to the U.K. to spend more time with his family, HPE President Antonio Neri said in a memo to employees.

Ryan joined HPE predecessor Hewlett-Packard in 2011 as senior vice president and general manager for enterprise servers, storage and networking in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), according to his LinkedIn profile. After rising through the ranks in HP's EMEA operations, he was promoted in July 2016 to serve as chief sales officer for all of HPE.

Phil Davis

In September, Hewlett Packard Enterprise appointed a new global sales leader, Phil Davis, following the exit of U.S. sales chief Jim Merritt and EMEA sales chief Andy Isherwood.

Davis, a 17-year technology sales veteran, had been the regional managing director of Asia-Pacific for HPE's Enterprise Group, and has been with the company for four years overall. He will take the role of chief sales officer effective Nov. 1, the start of HPE's fiscal year 2018.

Davis is "a great partner to our customers and with the channel," who "innovates by actively pushing our team to evolve our sales techniques," said HPE President Antonio Neri in an email to employees.

Merritt and Isherwood are retiring from HPE after they assist with the transition into the first quarter of the company's fiscal 2018.

Bertrand Yansouni

Google announced that channel chief Bertrand Yansouni would leave the public cloud giant less than a year after he took the reins of the company's expanding partner program. Google didn't specify when Yansouni will officially be leaving, but according to his LinkedIn profile, he departed in October.

Yansouni was recruited to the position of vice president for global partner sales and alliances in November 2016 by Diane Greene, who heads Google Cloud and was his former boss at VMware. He came to Google from Cloudera, where he led the data management firm's partner program.

During his tenure, Yansouni oversaw changes in Google's go-to-market organization that aligned sales agents more by accounts instead of product lines. He also eliminated an incentive in Google's compensation structure for salespeople to take deals direct – an element long criticized by channel partners.

Paul Hunter

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Global Channel Chief Denzil Samuels, who was with HPE for just nine months, left the company in October and was replaced by HPE CEO Meg Whitman's chief of staff Paul Hunter.

Hunter, a 15-year HPE veteran with experience as an HPE business unit and channel sales leader in the United Kingdom, takes the helm with HPE in the midst of the massive Next restructuring.

HPE's Antonio Neri said in an internal memo that Samuels -- a former and GE Digital channel executive -- has decided to leave HPE at the end of the first fiscal quarter Jan. 31 to pursue "other sales-focused opportunities." He said Samuels would help transition the Channels and Alliances organization to Hunter.

In an interview with CRN, Neri said Hunter, who has worked side by side with Whitman for the past three years, is the right executive to lead the channel sales charge under a new global sales structure. "Paul has the [channel] DNA and a deep understanding of the business with our channel partners," Neri said.

Kwon Oh-hyun

The three co-CEOs of Samsung Electronics, Kwon Oh-hyun, Jong-Kyun Shin, and Boo-Keun Yoon, are stepping down to make way for new leadership.

Their resignations follow the August sentencing of Samsung's de facto leader, Jay Y. Lee, to five years in jail in connection with a bribery scandal that also toppled South Korea's former president, Park Geun-Hye.

Samsung didn't specify when the resignations of the three co-CEOs will be effective, although Kwon previously said he would be departing as of March.

Samsung said it plans to maintain its three co-CEO structure but didn't specify successors in the roles. Reports suggest the company is expected to promote three top Samsung executives -- Kinam Kim, Hyunsuk Kim, and Dongjin Koh -- into the roles in March when Samsung is set to hold a shareholder meeting.

Diane Bryant

Former Intel Group President Diane Bryant, who spent five years overseeing the vendor's $17 billion Data Center Group, was named COO of Google Cloud in November. She has also held Corporate VP and CIO titles.

Bryant's focus during her years at Intel included prioritizing cloud computing, networking virtualization and artificial intelligence solutions. She currently serves on United Technologies' board of directors.

"I can’t think of a person with more relevant experience and talents," Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene wrote in a blog post. "She is an engineer with tremendous business focus and an outstanding thirty-year career in technology."

Joyce Mullen

With Dell EMC President of Global Channels John Byrne now in charge of the vendor's North America commercial sales, 18-year Dell veteran Joyce Mullen will have big shoes to fill as the company's next channel chief.

Mullen will run a combined OEM, IoT and Global Channels organization. She has overseen the company's IoT solutions division for the past year, and had already been vice president and general manager of Global OEM Solutions since 2012. President and Chief Commercial Officer Marius Haas called Mullen one of Dell's most promising executives.

"She is on it like a pit bull," said Haas. "We are excited that we have this talent in-house, and we are excited about the next phase of the journey we are embarking on."

Dell saw partner sales leap to 55 percent of an estimated $78.5 billion in overall sales under Byrne's watch, whereas partner sales were only 33 percent of its commercial business before the EMC acquisition.

Meg Whitman/Antonio Neri

A true blockbuster took place when Meg Whitman announced her plans to step down as CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise on Feb. 1, 2018, after more than six years of leading the channel giant. Replacing her at the helm is longtime HP executive Antonio Neri, who was named president in June.

A 22-year veteran of the company, Neri has worked in every major part of the legacy HP business, from PCs to printers to services to overseeing the mainstay enterprise business. As president, he was responsible for guiding the "HPE Next" growth and profitability initiative aimed at streamlining and optimizing the company.

Partners who spoke with CRN cheered the appointment of Neri, whom they see as a pro-channel leader whose strong technical background will drive new software-defined services and products from key acquisitions, such as Aruba Networks, SimpliVity and Nimble Storage.

Whitman, who is widely credited for the vendor's remarkable turnaround and recognized by many partners as a channel champion, will remain on the HPE board of directors. She had held the CEO role since September 2011, during which time she oversaw the successful separation of Hewlett Packard into HPE and HP Inc.

"The company had no focus when Meg became CEO," Raymond Tuchman, CEO of Experis Technology Group, told CRN. "She saved the company by splitting HP Into two and making HP Enterprise a more nimble and agile company. Meg has left the company in great shape. I think Antonio is going to bring a lot of good energy and take the company to the next level and accelerate the growth of HPE."

John Chambers

After 26 years spent building the most powerful networking company in the world, Cisco Systems chairman and former longtime CEO John Chambers will no longer have a role inside the company as he will not seek re-election to the board of directors in December. "It is time for Cisco to move on to its next generation of leadership, including at the board and chairman level," Chambers wrote in an email to Cisco's board of directors.

When Chambers' term expires Dec. 11, the board plans to appoint Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins as chairman. Chambers served as Cisco's CEO from 1995 to 2015. He joined the company in 1991 as head of sales, and has been a member of the board since 1993.

Cisco said Chambers would be given the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus.