October 2012 - Free Online IT Magazine

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EDITORIAL OPINIONS ON THE CHANNEL The next CEO of Cisco just may be a Canadian THE EDITOR'S NOTE PAOLO DEL NIBLETTO p d e l n i b l e t t o@i twc . c a Cisco CEO John Chambers is retir- ing? I honestly never thought this was a possibility. THE FIRST TIME I interviewed Chambers back in 1994 he was a lowly vice-president. Then in 1995 he became CEO and he's been there ever since. I have interviewed Chambers about 30 times in my career and in the last five or six years I haven't once brought up succes- sion planning because I did not believe he was ever interested in leaving the CEO's office willingly. In the past I have asked Chambers about bowing out and he never, ever would bite on that question. I learned from insiders approximately 10 years ago that the heir- apparent to Chambers was James Richard- son, the Canadian born executive who ran marketing and sales for Cisco. Richardson was a hot shot executive during his time at the networking giant. When he ran North America for Cisco he grew that business an astounding 300 per cent. He was promoted to run EMEA and in four years at the helm there increased revenues by more than 400 per cent. But he too stepped away from the limelight. Then came Rick Justice. He was the next heir-apparent. And, he just might have been but in 2009 he stepped down for personal reasons. Justice was battling prostate cancer. I've been told that he still advises Chambers from time-to-time. Other high profile executives like Char- lie Giancarlo and Mike Volpi left Cisco to pursue leadership opportunities elsewhere. rumours and flat out speculation at Cisco conferences and events about when Cham- bers would step down and who would replace him. In the Bloomberg interview with Chambers I was shocked that he openly discussed his career plans. He said that within two to four years expect him to retire. He even went as far as to name potential successors including Canadian executive Rob Lloyd, who replaced Justice back in 2009 as executive VP of worldwide operations. Chambers also mentioned Chuck Robbins, senior VP for the Ameri- cas and little-known Edzard Overbeek, the senior VP of global services. I have interviewed Lloyd many times There have always been whispers, and Robbins a few times as well and I like both. Lloyd in my estimation would be the front runner. He made his bones by battling HP and winning with UCS offering. That was a stake your career and reputation moment. He also ran Canada and Europe and has been by Chambers' side for a long time. Robbins is a very funny, personable guy. The former North Carolina collegiate basketball player ran channels for Cisco in U.S. and Canada. Overbeek, quite frankly it would surprise me if he got the job. What was also surpris- ing was that COO Gary Moore and CTO Padmasree Warrior wasn't mention. Clock is running out on Meg Whitman's goodwill GUEST COLUMNIST JEFF JEDRAS WHEN A NEW government is elected, there's a period of time where they can blame disappointing developments on their predecessors. Inevitably, though, the day comes when that no longer flies with the voters and the current administration owns the mess, whether it's fair or not. Hewlett-Packard Co. president and CEO Meg Whitman hasn't been one to play the blame game, until this month. Since taking the helm of the struggling technology leader last September she has benefited from one simple fact: she's not Léo Apotheker. Apotheker's reign was so turbulent and unpopular, from billion dollar software 10 October 2012 acquisitions to a bungled and aborted plan to sell off the PC business, and partners were so happy to see him go, that Whitman took the job with an enormous reservoir of goodwill. She built on it at February's partner conference, delivering a partner- friendly message promising a channel-first approach, a re-commitment to hardware and, most importantly, a turnaround plan. In the seven months since that Global Partner Conference though, that reservoir of goodwill has begun to drain as observers wonder just when HP's turnaround will be- gin. Partners have been treated to a string of bad news and massive executive shake- ups, while waiting in vain for signs of Whitman's turnaround plan to bear fruit. She warned in October that harvest time won't be until 2014, forecasting revenue declines in every division of the company for 2013 except, ironically, software. And the blame card made its first appearance. "The recent financial performance of HP has not been good," Whitman said "The single biggest challenge facing Hewlett-Packard has been the multiple changes in CEOs. It's going to take longer to right this ship than any of us would like." It is going to take time, and HP's execu- tive merry-go-round has been ridiculous. But Whitman has been around long enough that she needs to shoulder the responsibility. The nearly $10 billion write- down related to the EDS Corp. acquisition can be traced to Mark Hurd, but the ill- advised musings about HP getting back for some reason into the smartphone business is all her, as can the departure of seasoned executives and a divisional re-organization that flipped the company's approach to channel support.

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