Changing faces

Don’t be surprised to walk around the halls of Gitex this year and discover that some familiar distribution faces are not at the stall you’d expect them to be. The employment carousel is notorious for speeding up at irregular times of the year, as is the case in the distribution channel.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  October 18, 2006

Don’t be surprised to walk around the halls of Gitex this year and discover that some familiar distribution faces are not at the stall you’d expect them to be. The employment carousel is notorious for speeding up at irregular times of the year, as is the case in the distribution channel at the moment.

Earlier this week Empa boss Savas Yucedag revealed to Channel Middle East that he is bringing down the curtain on an 11-year tenure at the hardware distributor. It is not yet clear whether he is preparing to make the move to vendor land or jump ship to another wholesaler. Either way, his departure creates a vacancy for somebody else to fill.

A new face is also on the verge of being unveiled at components distributor eSys. With Pavan Gupta spending 50% of his time in the Netherlands due to his EMEA-wide director role, the company is poised to go down the road of installing an additional management figure to concentrate on day-to-day proceedings in the Middle East some time in November.

Meanwhile, former Tech Data Middle East chief, Adnan Al Falah, has confirmed his intention to return to the region’s distribution sector. Having been at the heart of the market’s development for the past five years, and with a string of contacts to boot, it won’t be long before he is back behind the desk of an IT distributor, attempting to shoot his former employer down.

Local knowledge and, more importantly, personal relationships are pre-requisites for any senior distribution management role in the Middle East. But, like any market where those attributes are only possessed by a select few, there is always the distinct possibility of a domino effect occurring as bosses jump from one rival to another until an internal or outside appointment breaks the chain.

Of course, there are always those who place more emphasis on ability and track record than local experience. Almasa’s appointment of Frank Sheu, who was plucked from Synnex in Australia, is already paying dividends. The addition of several new names to the portfolio, including Proview and ASRock, plus a fresh approach to how the company’s distribution model must be evolved, proves that an outside face can bear fruit.

Tech Data, too, opted for a figure from outside the region to replace Al Falah when it named Hanspeter Eiselt as its boss in August. Given Eiselt’s previous EMEA role within Tech Data’s networking arm Azlan, that move was motivated by the company’s desire to drive up its value proposition in the region.

Eiselt is understood to be overseeing an internal reorganisation of the company’s approach to serving the Middle East and attempting to improve its proficiency in the high-end enterprise space. While its aspirations are clear, the task remains a monumental one given enterprise revenues still remain a nominal portion of overall sales. Getting a broadline company with gross margins of 4.6% to think like a high-end value-driven operation is one of the hardest tricks to pull off in the distribution channel. The well-documented troubles that have plagued Tech Data in the broader EMEA territory - largely as a result of issues in major economies such as Germany and Italy - prove that success is not guaranteed simply by having access to a bolt-on enterprise portfolio.

The transfer of senior management personnel often has as much, if not more, impact on a company’s future direction as any other action inflicted upon it — be it the arrival of new competition or changes in the vendor landscape. When the distribution employment carousel slows down in the coming weeks, who has got on what horse will have an important bearing on how the market plays out.

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