Cisco partners have heaped praise on the firm's UK boss Phil Smith as he stands down, hailing his guitar performances at partner events as "legendary".
Smith (pictured) announced today that he will quit the role of UK and Ireland CEO and become chairman on a part-time basis instead. Cisco's current EMEAR service provider boss Scot Gardner will take over.
"The UK and Ireland is tremendously important to Cisco," Smith said. "Together, we have grown the business significantly in my eight years as its leader. I am immensely proud of all of you who have been involved – whether employees, our partners or our customers who have and continue to innovate and lead industry transformation with us.
"There has never been a more crucial time for us to realise the potential of UK industry.
"We continue to invest in the UK, both in the business and as a nation. In 2015 we announced our commitment to invest $1bn in the UK and a year on, I am thrilled with the progress that we have seen so far."
Smith is a strong advocate for getting young people skilled up in technology, and Softcat's managing director Colin Brown said this was one of many great things Smith brought to the role.
"Because of the kind of chap Phil is, he was always interested in our graduate scheme and taking on young people," he said. "That's what I find so impressive – yes, he is interested in Cisco's business and partners, but he took a personal interest in how we're doing as an organisation. I really like that personal touch he brought to the Cisco relationship."
Logicalis' chief digital officer Chris Gabriel heaped praise on Smith for his work in the top job, and said his musical talents will also be sorely missed at Cisco events.
"I'm not sure you'll find anyone who wouldn't speak highly enough of him," he said. "I think he's one of the legends in the channel. It's an end of an era. It's an interesting shift from a man who has been in the traditional reseller channel – Phil is very much a VAR and SI man – to a more service provider-focused man.
"He's a superb chap and his guitar nights at Cisco partner conferences are legendary. We are going to miss his singing. Wherever he is in the world, Phil can be guaranteed to produce a guitar from somewhere. His Oasis Wonderwall is legendary so we will miss that. It's a bit like the end of Top of the Pops in the channel."
Scott Fletcher, ANS Group's chairman, also said Smith's performances will be missed.
"We will miss him playing the guitar at the partner conference and doing a singalong," he said. "He was always in the bar getting the guitar out. It's great when an exec gets involved like that."
Justin Harling, managing director of CAE, said:
"If you look over his time at Cisco, he's overseen an enormous amount of change and I don't think anyone else in the UK IT industry has had quite as much influence at a senior level, or brought quite as much IT investment into the country as he has. From that point of view, I'm pleased to hear he still has a role to play because contacts wise, his influence will be massive.
"Having said that, having someone new coming in, bringing fresh impetus, like any new person would, will be great."
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