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Former WD regional chief rules out return

Hafeez Khawaja setting up channel consultancy rather than return to management role with vendors

Hafeez Khawaja, the former Middle East and Africa director of Western Digital, has revealed that he has turned down a series of offers to return to the market in a senior management capacity - and will turn his hand to channel consulting work instead.

Khawaja parted company with the hard drive manufacturer in mid-January after a 14-year tenure and had been widely expected to resurface at another IT vendor operating in the region.

However, he has quashed the likelihood of that happening by setting in motion plans to launch his own consulting firm, which will provide regional channel development expertise to non-competing hardware vendors.

"I will be building distribution networks for key vendors that want to be present in the region, but wish to test the water before they jump in, and for companies that want to grow their existing distribution network without the high fixed costs," he explained.

Khawaja intends to conduct activities from Dubai once the necessary trade licensing paperwork has gone through and the first contracts fully signed.

With ex-APC regional boss Philip Hughes and former AMD chief Gaith Kadir also taking up independent consulting roles in the last few months, it is clear that there is a demand for local business development expertise among firms with aspirations to penetrate the market.

"New companies obviously don't want to spend a lot of money from the beginning - they want to assess the business potential and then once the business starts rolling in they'll start investing as well," said Khawaja. "There are also those companies with existing business, which introduce new products where they face more competition. Instead of putting more infrastructure in place for those products and growing their fixed costs they want to go through reps that can bring them a value add with a variable cost structure."

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