Security Staff Acquisition & Development, Channel chiefs, Channel partner programs, Content

Cisco Channel Chief Wendy Bahr Resigns; Networking Company Vows Seamless Transition

Cisco Systems Global Channel Chief Wendy Bahr has resigned. Her commitment to partner-led engagements earned praise from CEOs at major IT solutions providers like CWPS and Presidio. Bahr will remain with the networking and subscription software company during the transition to a new channel leader, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) confirmed today.

Wendy Bahr,
Cisco Channel Chief Wendy Bahr
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

According to a statement from the company:

“We respect Wendy’s decision to leave Cisco and want to thank her for 18 years of leadership at Cisco, most recently leading out Global Partner Organization. Our partner community is one of our strongest assets and we are committed to their success and helping them evolve with Cisco’s transformation. Wendy will be staying on to ensure a seamless transition as we identify a new leader.” 

Bahr has worked closely with CEO Chuck Robbins and the broader team to help extend the company and its partner base from networking and data centers toward recurring revenues, software subscriptions, and security solutions.

Cisco remains a company in transition -- depending less on hardware sales and more on subscription software services. The story and overall business transformation -- successes, missteps, course corrections -- will take years to play out. But the signs of progress are clear and accelerating. The company's Q4 2018 financial results, released earlier this week, show significant progress in that business transformation.

Cisco Partners Applaud Wendy Bahr

Partners value Bahr's efforts, track record and commitment to channel-led engagements. There's also pushing for the networking company to maintain that type of commitment once Bahr's successor is named.

Presidio CEO Bob Cagnazzi

Key proponents include Bob Cagnazzi, CEO of Presidio, a midmarket IT solutions provider that partners closely with Cisco on digital transformation and hybrid cloud engagements. Cagnazzi told ChannelE2E:

"Wendy was a strong advocate for the partners and for Cisco. She consistently worked to ensure alignment and profitability in the programs and became a highly trusted member of the Cisco executive team. She will be missed. We can only hope Cisco will continue to remain the best channel partner in the business." Presidio is a midmarket IT solutions provider that partners closely with Cisco on digital transformation and hybrid cloud engagements.

Jason Waldrop

Added Jason Waldrop, CEO of CWPS, a midsize MSP and cloud solutions provider in Washington, D.C.:

"We got to know Wendy when she was still in Northern Virginia covering our region. She was a great sponsor for CWPS when we were an emerging Cisco partner. As we continued to grow with Cisco and her career path took her to the executive suite in San Jose, she continued to be a great advocate for us and partners like us. It is generally acknowledged that Cisco is the high water mark for channel programs in our industry, and Wendy was a big part of making that happen. She will be missed for sure. Her hard work had a direct impact in my ability to grow CWPS. I know there are many other partners that can say the same."

The Journey: Seeing Trends Before They Go Mainstream

Indeed, Bahr's steady, calm-but-firm demeanor earned high respect across the channel -- even before she took on the global channel chief role. In an earlier position, she focused on new, disruptive routes to markets -- essentially researching the cloud and managed services market before they went mainstream.

Bahr also played a role in educating partners to newly acquired or emerging IT platforms. For instance, Cisco Kinetic and Cisco Jasper now rank among the world's Top 15 Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms. Moreover, the company rekindled its small and midsize (SMB) channel partner efforts, working closely with ConnectWise on a range of MSP and managed security services initiatives.

So who will next lead the partner program? It sounds like the company is striving to have a new global channel chief in place before Cisco Partner Summit 2018 in November.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.