Cisco’s Goodwin to retire, Klein named new WWPO chief

Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of Cisco’s worldwide partner group

Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of Cisco’s worldwide partner group

Cisco announced Monday that it’s longtime channel leader, Keith Goodwin, is calling it a day.

Goodwin, senior vice president of Cisco’s Worldwide Partner Organization, plans to retire, according to a blog post by Cisco worldwide sales leader Rob Lloyd. At the same time, the company announced that Bruce Klein, currently heading up Cisco’s U.S. public sector business, will take his place. CRN is reporting that the change will happen at the start of Cisco’s 2013 fiscal year, August 1.

“Announced retirement today, after 13 years at Cisco and 38 years in the IT Industry,” Goodwin wrote on Twitter. “Feeling very excited about the next chapter!”

Goodwin, the company’s channel leader since 2005, was a remarkably long-served for a vendor executive facing the partner community. Consider that his predecessor, Paul Mountford, held the global channel chief post for less than three years before moving onto new roles – he now heads up Cisco’s enterprise markets around the world.

Goodwin oversaw the latter part of Cisco’s conversion of its channel programs from volume-based to value-based – a conversion which was certainly amongst the first of its kind in the industry and has served as the inspiration for a variety of vendors to make similar changes since then. Whether they’d admit to the source of said inspiration or not is a whole different issue. And since then, he’s seen further significant changes for the company’s channel plans and partner community – ranging from working to shore up finances and reassure partners through the financial turmoil of 2008 and beyond, through to seeing the first clues of Edison Peres’ new “Return on Cisco” model, which – if executed properly – may prove one of the biggest changes in channel program philosophy since the aforementioned volume-to-value transition.

“Keith and his team have evolved WWPO from a primary focus on our channel resale partners to a broader scope that includes the global Partner Led sales model and the partner ecosystem to support our architectures, solutions and the consumption of IT as a service,” wrote Lloyd in his blog post announcing the changes.

While Goodwin has been the senior statesman of Cisco’s channel efforts for more than half a decade, it has (in hindsight) been easy to see that in recent years, he’s been handing over more and more of the reins of Cisco’s partner relationships to his top lieutenants. That includes specifically Edison Peres, who last year was anointed Cisco’s “channel chief” despite reporting to worldwide partner organization leader Goodwin, but also includes Wendy Bahr and Andrew Sage, heading up Cisco’s alliances and transformative partnerships, and small-business channel efforts, respectively.

This likely means that as long as Klein sees fit to “stay the course” within the WWPO, Cisco partners will be working with familiar faces and strategies, even at the top executive levels.

“In this new role, I am confident Bruce will apply his extensive experience working in the field to take our global partner strategy to the next level,” Lloyd writes in his blog post. “As we deepen and extend our partner strategy, one of the things we will focus on is achieving even tighter integration between our Cisco field teams and our partner community.”

Just a minute after announcing his retirement in the above tweet, Goodwin sought to re-assure the partner base he’s been working with for the majority of the last decade.

“Partners…you are in good hands,” Goodwin tweeted.