Cisco Systems is to shift current director of enterprise, Jeff Sheard, into its regional channel manager role as part of a major reshuffle.
The news follows Suzanne Hansen's decision to sail back across the Tasman for an operations position after almost two years in the A/NZ channel job.
While lack of channel experience raises questions about Sheard's suitability for the role, Cisco managing director, Ross Fowler, defended the decision.
"He hasn't got specific channel experience but you can't work within Cisco without touching the channel because it is in our DNA," he said. "This appointment is part of a broader reorganisation that creates breadth of experience and opens up opportunities for other people."
The move has been broadly welcomed by local partners.
Data3# CEO, John Grant, liked to see vendors appointing senior channel executives from within direct sales or internally focused teams.
"Cisco is the most developed [vendor] in terms of understanding channel profitability," he said. "Sheard comes with a lack of channel knowledge but will bring valuable enterprise experience."
Oriel Corporation director of operations, Rodney Aspen, previously worked with Sheard at Logicalis. While his role had still been enterprise sales, Aspen said it had given Sheard some exposure to working with gold partners.
Getronics managing director, Paul Timmins, also supported the appointment and paid tribute to departing channel boss, Hansen.
"Sheard's appointment elevates the importance of the channel community because he is coming from the direct sales engine," Timmins said. "He has a great relationship with the internal sales force and that will help us build an even stronger bond.
"Suzanne Hansen has raised the profile of partners and she will be a loss."
Highlights of her tenure, Hansen said, included improving local programs while developing greater channel capability around advanced technologies and vertical markets.
"We already had vertical capability in defence and finance but have created a structure for the public sector and are looking at retail pretty heavily too," she said.
"Health has been really big for us - specifically age care."
After 25 years of working in the channel, Hansen said she was looking forward to taking on a role that would need a more holistic approach.
Distribution channel account manager, Anthony Miller, has been given a brief to develop new tier-two business with partners that don't fit the typical Cisco profile.
The vendor's NZ boss, Dave Barker, returns to Australia to head up a new public sector vertical in Canberra.
"We didn't need to make these changes but it is good to get a fresh set of eyes on different areas of the business," Fowler said. "You get a new lease of life."