Ingram's Australian management change stuns channel

Ingram's Australian management change stuns channel

News of the imminent departure of Ingram Micro's top two Australian executives, Kerry Baillie and Steve Rust, has rocked the IT channel, with many of its peers saying they are shocked by the surprise announcement.

Distributors and resellers speaking to ARN said the retirement of both so quickly after the integration of Tech Pacific into Ingram Micro was unexpected. CFO Guy Freeland's appointment to the post could also give the company a different focus.

"I'm surprised that both would go at the one time," Express Data managing director, Ross Cochrane, said. "But the decision to bring in a finance guy is perhaps unsurprising.

"If Ingram was looking for expansion and growth and all was going well, they'd bring in a sales person. If it's not so rosy, you'd bring in someone with financial experience. It [Freeland's appointment] slants more towards a conservative rather than growth approach."

Synnex managing director, Frank Sheu, said the appointment demonstrated a refocusing on bottom line performance. It was inevitable that this would also bring with it further cost-cutting and consolidation, he said.

"There is no other reason to let them both go," Sheu said. "The two have so much management experience."

Leading Edge general manager, Ross Whitelaw, said he was concerned about the new appointment and the effect a new boss would have upon the culture of the company.

"Every time someone takes over running a company, they bring with them their own method of management," he said. "It will be interesting to see the effect this has on the team at Ingram. Both [Baillie and Rust] were very visible and active people."

It also remains to be seen what impact the change in management will have on vendor partners.

Cisco Systems regional manager for A/NZ channels, Suzanne Hansen, said she was surprised by the announcement but had no immediate concerns about its newly struck relationship with the distributor.

"I would have thought that we would have known beforehand, but I'm happy for both of them," she said. "We're still really positive for the future. It's only been three weeks, but so far so good."

Hansen said Cisco had just completed a two-week roadshow with Ingram and had been impressed with the outcome of the events.

"These shows had nothing to do with Steve or Kerry but were positive events," she said. "We're happy with the team we're working with at Ingram." All agreed both Rust and Baillie were well respected in the industry and would be sorely missed.

LAN Systems general manager, Wendy O'Keeffe, said it was positive that the new managing director boasted of a longstanding relationship with Tech Pacific. But Freeland would need to work on rebuilding relationships with its vendor partners, she said.

"Kerry was well respected by everyone, so this will signal a change," she said.

Bluechip Infotech managing director, Johnson Hsiung, said the integration of Tech Pacific into Ingram required stable management. Coupled with the departure of two well respected and influential managers, this would put even more pressure on the new recruit.

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