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NetApp CFO On Why He’s Leaving And Why Not To Obsess Over Financials

Ron Pasek, who this week said he plans to retire from his role at NetApp during a time when NetApp is looking at how to restart growth, told CRN why he is retiring now and why businesses should not read too much into the company's recent financials.

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Now in addition to sounding a little bit abrupt to somebody in the outside, if you look at NetApp over the past year, it has lost several key executives. It looks like more than the normal turnover. Is your planned retirement related to that, or to NetApp's poor performance the last couple quarters?

You know, I could see why people might think that. I don't think that's the case at all. There's no single reason for each of our departures. I think as we continue to transform as a company, change at all levels is expected, and to some extent welcomed. New people can bring really fresh ideas and different skill sets. You can see we're transitioning as a company. We're more than just a hardware box-selling company. I think we clearly have a cloud initiative to help monetize our software through the hyperscalers, help our customers with their multi-cloud journeys. And those are different skills. New execs can bring different skills to help complement that, too.

Has NetApp started looking for somebody to take over your position?

I purposely gave George [Kurian] a big runway. They've talked to a number of candidates. I'll transition this person who will probably be named later in the quarter. So I'll see them through, [and] will be overlapping through Q4.

When can we expect to see NetApp return to actual growth?

Well, we're very profitable. That's never been the issue. And we have over 20 percent margin even this year being down, you know, 10 percent in revenue. So our business model is in really good shape. If you look at the guide we gave for Q4, the midpoint of the guide would suggest we'd be down 4 percent year-over-year. You know, we've been deploying 200 new quota-bearing demand creation people in the field. That will pay off next year, and should dramatically help the company get back to growth. I'm not going to guide a number because that's not my job at this point. But on the next earnings call, we will give you a guide for the full year FY'21.

 
 
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