Cisco poaches Alcatel managing director

Networking giant Cisco Systems has poached current Alcatel managing director Ross Fowler to head up its Australian operations.

Cisco has been without a replacement for industry veteran Terry Walsh, who was promoted from the local MD role to become Canadian vice president for the vendor, since May. Nigel Moreton has been acting as managing director in the interim.

Moreton said there has been no official announcement regarding a replacement, and that it would be a “speculative assumption” to suggest that Fowler has taken up the position.

But multiple sources cite an internal Alcatel memo informed the vendor’s staff of the move.

A spokesperson for Alcatel has confirmed that Fowler has advised of his intention to leave the company. Alcatel is to inform the market via a public statement later today that it has appointed Andrew LeVido as acting CEO while a permanent replacement is found. The vendor does not wish LeVido to be available for comment.

The vendor did not wish LeVido to make himself available for comment.

With Fowler not returning calls, his reasons for swapping have been left up to speculation.

A source close to Alcatel said that there was only one reason for such a move — a much more attractive salary. Alcatel, the source said, was a conservative employer when it came to salary — and a giant technology company such as Cisco could afford between two and four times a wage.

The move has been noted with interest among networking distributors. LAN Systems director, Nick Verykios, described the move as an “inspired choice”.

Verykios noted that Fowler has a background in the telecom­munications space rather than sales channels, as did former managing director, Terry Walsh.

He said Fowler has a reputation as being an “incredible salesperson”.

“I don’t think he will need to have much to do in the Cisco channel, not with capable guys like Kip Cole and Anthony Miller there already,” Verykios said.

“Nevertheless, it’s comforting to know that Alcatel did use distributors and resellers and that Ross [Fowler] personally sat down with us to develop channel strategies in the past.”

Operations manager for Alcatel distributor VExpress, Grant Morrison, said the move was an “absolute masterstroke” on the part of Cisco.

The one thing Alcatel had achieved that Cisco had not, Morrison said, was inroads into major telecommunications accounts in Australia.

“This may be one of the most important things Cisco has ever done in this country,” he said. “Cisco has never been able to get past the network edge with the telcos. Ross [Fowler] delivered Alcatel both Telstra and Telecom New Zealand/AAPT — the two largest monopolistic telco accounts in this region. He has an intimate understanding of the business and I would say that this was the single reason he was picked up.”

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