Western Digital closes in on new EMEA boss

Western Digital is confident it will find the right person to run its EMEA business by the start of next year, according to the man who is keeping the seat warm on an interim basis.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  November 23, 2006

Western Digital is confident it will find the right person to run its EMEA business by the start of next year, according to the man who is keeping the seat warm on an interim basis. VP worldwide sales, Scott Davis, who has spent four out of the last five months in EMEA following the surprise departure of long-standing regional head Klass de Vos claims his search for a successor is nearing a conclusion. “I’ve talked to a lot of people and I’m very optimistic that we will find a replacement very soon,” said Davis. “We certainly hope to have a person in place and up and running by the first quarter.” Western Digital generates more than US$1 billion a year in sales from the EMEA region and Davis is unequivocal about the kind of management skills required to manage and grow a business that size. “We’re looking for a sales executive, not a general manager type personality," he said. "It has got be somebody who is a sales executive by nature, can drive and close business, establish worldwide customer relationships, and provide leadership to the team.” While the vendor is not revealing any clues about the candidates which have made its shortlist, it admits that the new EMEA boss is almost certain to come from outside the company. “I think that although there is some technical expertise to selling hard drives, it is a component. But we are certainly looking for someone with experience in the IT space, and our preference would be to have someone who has already established customer relationships both in the channel and with the major OEMs,” confided Davis. He continued: “More importantly we are looking for an aggressive sales executive with a positive attitude who can drive the business and drive the team. I think it’s always a preference to have culturally a person who matches the region that they are responsible for. I’m not excluding a superstar from Asia or the US, but I think our first choice would be — all other things being equal — to find someone from Europe.” Regardless of who lands the post, the appointment of a new boss is set to have implications for the hard drive giant’s Middle East and Africa business. Davis claims that the time he has spent taking on de Vos’ duties has taught him that more independence needs to be transferred to members of the vendor’s senior management team. “We want to move the strategy further down in the organisation,” he said. “Take Hafeez Khawaja who runs the Middle East for example. We really want Hafeez to own our Middle East strategy in the sense that he is in the market, he touches the market and he has a better feel for what our strategy should be moving forward versus a person who might be residing in Central Europe.” Davis adds: “We are divided into five major sub regions — Northern Europe, Southern Europe, the Dach region, Eastern Europe and the Middle East — and we want the five directors in each of those regions to own the strategy. This transition has actually been helpful for me and the region because it has allowed these guys to have more autonomy and more control over their own destiny. We have very high targets and goals for our directors. I can’t expect them to achieve these targets without also giving them the ability to direct these successes themselves.”

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