Cisco Channel Shuffle: Bahr Returns to Americas Partner Lead
Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) is reshuffling channel executives, returning Wendy Bahr, the company’s well-known and highly regarded partner organization veteran, to head its Americas channel organization, replacing Jim Sherriff, who departs after two years to lead sales for the global Accelerated Cisco Transformation (ACT) program.
Bahr will show up for work having already digested a portion of her new assignment — previously heading up Cisco’s North America channel efforts from 2008 to 2010 — and now adding Latin America to the mix. For the past two years, she has led Cisco’s Global and Strategic Partner Organization, driving system integrator, service provider, ISV and other partner revenue past $9 billion. Bahr will report to Chuck Robbins, senior vice president, Americas.
Robbins, in a blog post, called Bahr the “ideal leader for the Americas Partner Organization.” He praised her “deep knowledge of Cisco’s partner organization, proven ability to build strong relationships with strategic and innovative partners at the local and global level, and collaborative, innovative and inclusive leadership style.”
Cisco has yet to name Bahr’s successor but Robbins said one will be named in the next couple of months.
What does Bahr’s appointment mean for channel partners? First, Cisco’s channel chief transition should be a smooth one, saving the trouble of having to introduce to partners someone unfamiliar. Second, to borrow a baseball phrase, Bahr is thought of by the channel as a partner’s manager — that is, she’s visible and supportive, two good things where the channel is concerned. And, third, it will be interesting to see if Bahr brings her cloud deployment and ISV and technology partner strategies with her from her old job to her new one.
Sherriff is credited with helping partners lower the cost of re-certification, easing the onboarding process and helping the channel to develop sales professionals. In assuming the sales lead for ACT — a global Cisco initiative headed by Angel Mendez, senior vice president, Cisco Transformation, to shed light on ways the vendor will need to advance its operating model and go-to-market strategies going forward — Sherriff is taking on a newly created position, reporting directly to Rob Lloyd, Cisco executive vice president, Worldwide Operations.
Cisco’s executive musical chairs follows a change at the top of the channel organization with Bruce Klein succeeding the retiring Keith Goodwin as senior vice president, Worldwide Partner Organization.
A week ago Cisco confirmed it will let go 2 percent of its workforce, or an estimated 1,300 of its 65,000 employees worldwide, but none of the cuts appear to reach Cisco’s channel organization. In May, Cisco warned investors that revenue growth for the period will increase by as little as 2 percent year-over-year, well below analysts’ expectations. The vendor will announce Q4 and FY 2012 earnings on Aug. 15.