Leigh Howard appointed to lead Westcon in regional restructure

Leigh Howard appointed to lead Westcon in regional restructure

Westcon Group sales director, Leigh Howard, has been promoted to Australian managing director as part of a restructure of the distributor’s business across Asia-Pacific. He takes the local reins from Wendy O’Keeffe, who took up an Asia-Pacific role 12 months ago.

Howard joined Westcon 13 years ago in the UK before relocating to Australia and becoming national sales manager in 2002. He told ARN his focus was to build on the distributor’s four technology pillars – security, storage, convergence and networking – as well as advance its services capabilities.

“In taking this role, it’s not about changing strategy – it’s a continuation of the successful partnership Wendy and I have had over the last few years,” Howard said. “The ship is already heading in the right direction; this is more about expanding our business regionally.”

However, Howard is revising Westcon’s local sales structure to shift more strategic sales focus into each of the four technology business units. Former large account manager, Todd Wellard, has also been promoted to a national sales role and will be responsible for regional account managers.

“Our business managers are taking a more strategic role in defining the strategy of the business – I have made myself redundant in that respect,” Howard said.

As a result of Westcon’s acquisition of Datastor in October, the company’s entire New Zealand business will be managed by Dave Rosenberg from April 1. Howard hoped to leverage Datastor’s services capabilities around post-sales support, storage and datacentre expertise both in the local market and regionally.

Howard’s promotion is one of a raft of executive changes being implemented across Asia-Pacific, O’Keeffe said.

Among the newly installed regional management team are former Australian Cisco business unit manager, Sam Paris, who gained a Cisco alliances manager’s position based in Singapore. In the new role, he will oversee Westcon’s Cisco relationship regionally, as well as build its Unified Computing System (UCS) datacentre initiatives and partnerships.

Former Australian staffer, Rhys Shannon, has also moved into a regional CTO role and will be tasked with leveraging Westcon’s technology processes and innovations across Asia-Pacific through a shared services model. As an example, O’Keefe pointed to its customer order management systems in Australia, which she expected to see rolled out regionally.

“We want to leverage our skill sets globally,” she added.

New human resources managers are also being appointed in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, along with a commercial and legal manager based in Sydney.

Westcon now has a presence in nine Asia-Pacific countries– Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and The Philippines. O’Keeffe planned to be in 13 countries by 2013, and flagged China and Hong Kong as the top two on the list, followed by Taiwan, Korea and Japan.

Expansion would come from a combination of organic growth, leveraging vendor relationships and acquisition. The group was already in discussions with potential targets across the region, O’Keeffe said.

With regards to Australia, she expressed confidence in Howard’s broad understanding of the business and the industry, and his relationships with vendor and reseller customers. O’ Keeffe also flagged the fact that the distributor’s local operation experienced 18 percent compound annual growth over the past seven years.

“Over the last 6-9 months, my role has been to look at our future business and build that, making sure of our future income,” she explained. “The day-to-day running of Australia has been Leigh, so it was time to make that change official.”

There would be a six-month handover period but O’Keeffe has no plans to relocate permanently within Asia.

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