Home / New Western Digital boss to take helm in January 2007

New Western Digital boss to take helm in January 2007

Western Digital might still be looking for the right man to occupy its vacant VP EMEA position, but the company has found a new face to lead its global strategy in the shape of COO John Coyne. He will officially make the CEO’s chair his own in early January when current chief Arif Shakeel steps down to take up a temporary advisory role.

Western Digital might still be looking for the right man to occupy its vacant VP EMEA position, but the company has found a new face to lead its global strategy in the shape of COO John Coyne. He will officially make the CEO’s chair his own in early January when current chief Arif Shakeel steps down to take up a temporary advisory role.

Coyne is a Western Digital veteran who has held a variety of operational, sales and customer satisfaction roles since joining the company in 1983 when he established a controller board manufacturing facility in his native Ireland. Earlier this year he was promoted to COO after serving as VP worldwide operations for five years.

Coyne – who has also joined the board of directors - will be under no illusions as to the size of the shoes he is filling. Former CEO Shakeel turned Western Digital from a loss making hardware manufacturer into a highly profitable outfit with sales of more than US$4 billion a year during his tenure.

Quarterly results released by Western Digital earlier this week confirmed the strong progress that the company continues to make. It raked in sales of US$1.3 billion after shipping 22.7 million hard drives during the three months to the end of September. That represented sales growth of 25% year-on-year although investors will no doubt have been more impressed by the US$103m Western Digital added to its bottom line.

If the appointment of a new CEO and a decent set of quarterly numbers hasn’t already made the week memorable enough, Western Digital will surely be viewing the spat between rival Seagate and eSys with much interest. Seagate dropped eSys as an authorised distribution partner earlier this week after its failure to comply with a sales audit.

Hafeez Khawaja, regional boss for MEA and South Asia at Western Digital, claims the fall-out between Seagate and eSys does not alter Western Digital's relationship with eSys in any way. “It is business as usual,” he stressed. “We speak to eSys on a daily basis and there is no change in our relationship whatsoever. The bottom line is that the amount of global business we do with eSys is proportionally smaller than other vendors, particularly Seagate. So obviously for the time being, we are doing business as usual and watching the developments. There is nothing to suggest that will change at the moment.”

However, he acknowledges that Seagate’s decision to stop working with eSys is likely to have ramifications for the wider hard drive sector. “I think the whole industry was surprised because this will change the whole dynamic of the industry," he said. "But it is one of those things that happens because it’s a high volume business and now there are only a few vendors left. Business will be conducted in a different way than it used to be four or five years ago when there were ten or 15 vendors still around.”

For eSys, meanwhile, the loss of Seagate means it will now be forced to quickly shift more focus to the remaining hard drive vendors within its portfolio. Western Digital, Fujitsu, Hitachi and Samsung are all partners of the Singapore-based distributor, but given it was shipping around eight million Seagate and Maxtor drives per year it has an enormous void to fill.

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