Middle East movers

The channel job carousel continues to be a hive of activity.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  October 21, 2007

Plenty of companies appear to have returned from the Eid break with renewed vigour having bolstered their personnel throughout the region. The channel job carousel has been a hive of activity during the past year, a sign not only of a market that continues to develop rapidly, but of the value now placed on recruiting skilled staff who can genuinely influence an organisation's success.

Industry knowledge and regional experience are increasingly attracting a premium when it comes to the Middle East channel. Some commentators argue that this is the adverse result of a shortage in specialist channel skills, but on the other hand it reflects the importance that companies are putting on hiring individuals who can be dispatched straight into action and get the job done.

AMD's appointment of Ossama El Deeb as its channel manager in Egypt is a case in point. He was plucked out of Microsoft's Egyptian operation where he spent a large proportion of his eight-year tenure rubbing shoulders with the market's system builder community. That kind of background is clearly an appealing factor for AMD as it seeks to strengthen its position among the whitebox community.

Despite efforts to woo local system builders in the wake of Intel's sales audit of several large Egyptian system builders last year, AMD remains comprehensively dwarfed by its arch-rival in the market share stakes. The appointment of its first dedicated channel head in the Egypt - arguably home of the last significant local PC assembly market in the MENA region - is at least a sign that it recognises the pressing need for some form of permanent on-the-ground representation.

El Deeb's task is a tall one. Given the lengthy list of duties that accompany the job description - from developing the second tier channel and rolling out channel programmes to schmoozing with government and private sector corporations - El Deeb's proverbial plate is going to be spilling over. Should AMD be serious about etching away at Intel's runaway lead in the region then it undoubtedly has to continue investing in further staff with existing market experience.

Sun Microsystems and Toshiba have taken the opposite approach to AMD's external recruitment efforts by internally filling senior vacancies they have had in Saudi Arabia. Sun's Jamal Said, formerly southern and eastern Europe commercial operations manager at the storage giant, recently took over as district sales manager for KSA, effectively replacing former country manager Hani Salman who lasted less than a year in the role. It seems that Sun feels somebody with knowledge of the company's culture, as well as the local market, is best suited to be entrusted with the job of empowering a 55-strong local workforce. That said, Salman was already working for Sun before he took on the Saudi job.

Toshiba, too, has gone for what it knows, promoting current Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain head John Maliakal to country manager of its Saudi operation. Toshiba found itself facing a similar situation to Sun in that its previous boss Moataz Reda - who left the notebook vendor in the summer - lasted less than 12 months in the hotseat. The pros and cons of internal recruitment over external recruitment largely counteract one another, although only time will tell if Sun and Toshiba will be vindicated by their current choices.

Meanwhile, Cisco distributor Comstor continues to scale up in the region, adding Jayagiri Nair as a channel technical consultant based at the company's Dubai office. He looks set to become a key member of ex-Tech Data Middle East boss Steve Lockie's team, taking responsibility for aspects such as local partner education, pre-sales support and technical consultancy. Speaking of Tech Data, it appears the remaining members of the distributor's wind-down team have now moved onto new roles in the channel, including former CFO Jairaj Walder. He's managed to loosely retain his connection with Tech Data as the recently-appointed regional director of wireless devices distributor Brightec - a joint venture between Brightstar and new Tech Data Middle East parent Aptec.

What are your thoughts on the state of the Middle East job carousel? Contact me with your news, views or tip-offs on +971 4 391 0889 or andrew.seymour@itp.com

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