5 Top Microsoft Execs Who’ve Left (Or Are Leaving) In 2021

Even as Microsoft’s cloud businesses surge, the company has seen a number of high-profile executive departures this year so far.

Microsoft’s Biggest Executive Departures

It’s turning out to be a big year for changes in Microsoft’s executive ranks. Company veteran Rodney Clark became Microsoft’s corporate vice president of global channel sales on April 1, succeeding Gavriella Schuster as channel chief. Executive Vice President Judson Althoff got an expansion of his role in late May—taking the reins of a global commercial organization that combines Microsoft’s global sales and marketing group, previously run by Jean-Philippe Courtois, with the worldwide commercial business that Althoff had been running. And even Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has seen a change in his role, with the company’s board naming Nadella as Microsoft chairman in June, taking over for former Symantec CEO John Thompson.

There have also been a string of high-profile Microsoft executive departures disclosed in 2021 so far. Some of the executives have already left the company, while others have announced plans to depart Microsoft in the coming months.

The departures come even as the Redmond, Wash.-based cloud technologies giant continues to show strong growth across its businesses, including in Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and security. For Microsoft’s fiscal third quarter of 2021, ended March 31, revenue climbed 19 percent year-over-year to reach $41.7 billion—led by 50 percent revenue growth for the Azure cloud platform and 22 percent revenue growth for the Office 365 Commercial suite.

What follows are the details on five top Microsoft executives who’ve left—or are leaving—the company in 2021.

Brad Anderson

Most recently the corporate vice president of commercial management experiences at Microsoft, Brad Anderson departed the company in January for a president-level role at experience management application firm Qualtrics. Anderson had been with Microsoft for nearly 18 years, and since 2014 he had held leadership roles focused on device management and security across Windows 10 and Office 365. In his most recent role, responsibilities included oversight of Microsoft’s commercial Windows business. Anderson originally joined the company in 2003, following more than a decade at software firm Novell.

In a LinkedIn post, Anderson wrote that he was joining Qualtrics—a spinout from SAP that went public in January—to “dig in, learn more and contribute to the category of Experience Management that Qualtrics is defining and building.” He serves as president of products and services at Qualtrics.

Anderson’s responsibilities were reportedly going to be assumed by Harvinder Bhela, corporate vice president for the Microsoft 365 security, compliance and management business. CRN has reached out to Microsoft to confirm.

Kurt DelBene

In January, Microsoft veteran Kurt DelBene announced his plan to retire from the company later in 2021, according to his page on the Microsoft website. Microsoft said this is the latest available information on DelBene’s retirement plans.

DelBene had held the title of executive vice president at Microsoft since 2015, and since January he focused on leading the company’s response effort to COVID-19 and hybrid work initiative. Before that, he served as executive vice president for corporate strategy and core services engineering and operations at Microsoft from April 2015 until January 2021, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Earlier in his career, DelBene had worked at Microsoft from 1992 until 2013, ultimately serving as president of the company’s Office division. In between his two stints at Microsoft, he served as senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services—a role focused on the implementation of the Healthcare.gov website—and later as a venture partner at Madrona Venture Group.

At Microsoft, DelBene’s previous responsibilities were reportedly split among several executives—including with Microsoft Chief Digital Officer Andrew Wilson taking over DelBene’s responsibilities for core services engineering.

Kate Johnson

The president of Microsoft’s U.S. business, Kate Johnson recently disclosed plans to depart after four years with the company. In a post on LinkedIn, Johnson wrote that she will “be leaving Microsoft after I help the new MSUS president kickoff FY22.” Her successor is Deb Cupp, who began as president of Microsoft U.S. this month. Cupp was formerly the corporate vice president of enterprise and commercial industries at Microsoft. The company’s fiscal year 2022 began July 1.

Johnson will be departing Microsoft on Sept. 1, Microsoft confirmed to CRN. “Then I plan to take some great advice that I got last year and just ‘be still’ for a while, imagining the possibilities for how I might contribute – meaningfully and differently – to the world around me. Stay tuned,” she wrote.

Prior to joining Microsoft in mid-2017, Johnson had served as a vice president at GE, and before that had held executive roles at Oracle and Red Hat.

Toni Townes-Whitley

As Microsoft’s president of U.S. regulated industries, Toni Townes-Whitley has led the company’s U.S. sales efforts in the public sector and highly regulated industries since mid-2018. She has been with Microsoft for six years in total, previously serving as corporate vice president for industry. Before joining Microsoft, she was the president of IT and business consulting firm CGI Federal.

Townes-Whitley will be departing from Microsoft on Sept. 30, Microsoft confirmed to CRN. In an internal message, Microsoft’s outgoing U.S business president, Kate Johnson, reportedly disclosed the upcoming departure of Townes-Whitley for a “transformational role in a new industry.” A successor for Townes-Whitley’s role filled has not yet been determined, Microsoft said.

At Microsoft, Townes-Whitley has been closely involved with the effort to secure the Pentagon’s JEDI cloud computing contract. The $10 billion contract was awarded to Microsoft in 2019, but was withdrawn on Tuesday amid the ongoing legal challenges from Amazon Web Services. “It’s clear the DoD trusts Microsoft and our technology, and we’re confident that we’ll continue to be successful as the DoD selects partners for new work,” Townes-Whitley wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

Matt Penarczyk

After nearly 19 years on the in-house legal team at Microsoft, Matt Penarczyk departed the company in June for social media app maker TikTok. Most recently, Penarczyk had served as vice president and deputy general counsel for compliance and ethics at Microsoft, a role he’d held for two years, according to his LinkedIn profile. He originally joined Microsoft in October 2002, and before that had worked as an attorney at law firm Holland and Knight LLP in Boston.

In a post on LinkedIn, Penarczyk wrote of his time at Microsoft: “I have had the privilege of supporting the brightest innovators in the world, learning from the best lawyers in tech, and leading teams that have truly enriched my life.” At TikTok--an app owned by China’s ByteDance that Microsoft attempted to acquire last year--Penarczyk is serving as the head of legal for the U.S. and Americas regions.