Each year, technology and software companies make headlines as they drive change in the software-defined world. But every so often the people behind the scenes make headlines and changes of their own. This is why each month SDxCentral publishes a column tracking the latest executive hirings, promotions, and staff changes. Below we’ve compiled the ones that made headlines this year, often representing bigger trends in the industry.
Hans Vestberg’s New Role
Former Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg became CEO of Verizon August 1. Vestberg replaced long-time CEO Lowell McAdam who retired and became the non-executive chairman of the company. Vestberg joined the telecom giant in March 2017 as the executive vice president of Verizon’s network and technology team.
Vestberg spent most of his career at Ericsson where he was the CEO for six years and held various roles for more than 21 years, including CFO for a period.
His promotion at Verizon was a shift from previous chief executive appointments. Former CEOs, including McAdam, had spent years at the company and led numerous divisions before taking the helm as CEO.
Two months into his tenure as CEO at Verizon, Vestberg imprinted his mark on the company with a restructuring focused on three areas: consumer, business, and media. The changes, including a number of moves within the leadership team, will be made effective January 1.
Diane Bryant Departs Google Cloud
After just seven months as COO at Google Cloud, Diane Bryant left the company in July. Prior to Google, Bryant served as the head of Intel’s Data Center group. She joined Google Cloud in November 2017.
Bryant reported to Google Cloud CEO and Senior Vice President Diane Green, who also announced her planned departure from Google Cloud a few months after Bryant left. (More on that below.) Google offered Bryant “the best in her next pursuit,” which is still unknown.
There was some speculation that Bryant might land at her former employer Intel, which is in need of a CEO. Former Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was ousted from that role for violating the company’s non-fraternization policy. Krzanich has since been appointed as CEO of CDK Global, while Intel continues the search for his successor. Intel CFO Robert Swan has been acting as the interim CEO.
Thomas Kurian Jumps Clouds
Oracle’s – now former – top cloud executive Thomas Kurian had quite the year as he left the cloud provider and reappeared at another.
In September, he said he was taking an “extended time off” from Oracle after 22 years at software company. Kurian helped lead the company’s shift to a cloud technology company, which turned out to be a rough transition as Oracle struggled to compete against other cloud giants. Oracle made no comment about the reason for the leave, but rumors arose that Kurian and Oracle Executive Chairman Larry Ellison had a falling out concerning the direction of the cloud business.
The leave didn’t last long as Oracle announced in October, via a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, that Kurian would resign from his role to “pursue other opportunities.” Oracle has yet to find a successor for Kurian, but noted at the time that his responsibilities had been “reassigned to other senior executives in Oracle’s development organization.”
Kurian popped up a month later at Google where he will replace Greene as CEO. Greene will remain in that role through January.
Greene was hired by Google in 2015 to build its cloud business. During that time she helped to shift the company’s cloud focus to both enterprise business and artificial intelligence (AI). Greene has said that after she leaves Google she will pursue her passion of mentoring and education, particularly with regard to aiding female engineers and scientists in building their own companies.
Nokia Replaces President
Sanjay Goel in April was named the president of global services at Nokia. He was also named a member of Nokia’s group leadership team.
Goel replaced Igor Leprince, who stayed on to support the transition before leaving the company. Leprince held a number of roles at the vendor, serving as executive vice president of global services for three years prior to his last role.
Goel joined Nokia in 2001 as an account director. He had held a number of sales leadership positions, overseeing a variety of global businesses across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Most recently he acted as the head of Nokia’s Global Services Sales.
In his new role, Goel reports to Nokia President and CEO Rajeev Suri. Nokia’s global leadership team is chaired by Suri, and members of the group are named by the board.
Jeff Jennings Jumps VMware Ship for Google
Eighteen-year VMware veteran Jeff Jennings exited the company in March to join Google as vice president of customer engineering at Google Cloud. The move to Google also had Jennings temporarily join Greene, who was the founder and former CEO at VMware.
Jennings joined VMware early in 2000, and held a number of positions while at the vendor. For the last year-and-a-half he served as the senior vice president and general manager of VMware’s networking and security business. Tom Gillis, who was CEO at Bracket Computing, succeeded Jennings at VMware, according to Gillis’ LinkedIn profile.
VMware’s networking and security business is the unit charged with the development of its NSX platform, which is its virtualization and security platform and one of its fastest-growing products.
Cisco Shuffles Executive Team
It was the year of shake-ups for Cisco’s executive team with a number of promotions, departures, and hires.
In early May, Rowan Trollope, SVP and GM of its Application division, stepped down from his role. Trollope left to become CEO of cloud software startup Five9.
Next, Gee Rittenhouse was promoted to SVP and GM of Cisco’s security business group. Rittenhouse spent the two years prior as the SVP of engineering at the company. He took over from David Ulevitch, who in May took an advisory role within Cisco and later left the company entirely to join venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
Cisco also promoted Kip Compton, formerly VP of the company’s cloud platform and solutions business, to SVP and GM. The promotion did not significantly alter Compton’s duties within the company, but rather signaled the company’s greater commitment to its cloud business.
In August, two more SVPs left Cisco. Christine Heckart was a senior marketing executive who had been at Cisco for nine months before she departed. Heckart had joined the company from Brocade where she served as an EVP until November 2017 when Broadcom acquired Brocade.
The second August departure was Yvette Kanouff, who was the SVP and GM of Cisco’s service provider business. Kanouff took over the service provider unit in 2016, but had a rough two years as Cisco repeatedly reported disappointing revenues for the unit. Jonathan Davidson, SVP and GM for Cisco’s Service Provider Networking business, replaced Kanouff.
Hilton Romanski, Cisco’s SVP and chief strategy officer, left the company in September to serve as a partner and senior managing director at private equity firm Siris Capital. Romanski joined the networking company in 2000, and handled more than $30 billion in acquisitions and 60 deals for the firm. Anuj Kapur succeeded Romanski, after serving three years as the SVP of networking and security for the firm.
Romanski was joined at Siris in December by Joe Cozzolino, who was the SVP and GM of Cisco Services. Cozzolino joined the private equity firm as an executive partner.
Level 3 Leadership Takes Over at CenturyLink
CenturyLink bought Level 3 Communications for $34 billion in October 2016. And as the integration pushed forward, a number of executives from Level 3 found themselves taking over in key leadership roles at the operator.
The first change came in January, when Shaun Andrews, formerly the SVP of IP and real-time communications at Level 3, was named EVP of product management at CenturyLink.
In March, CenturyLink CEO Glen Post pushed up his retirement date by nearly eight months and retired in May. Post served as CEO for 26 years and remains a board member. He was replaced by Jeff Storey, who joined CenturyLink as president and COO following the Level 3 acquisition. Storey was Level 3’s CEO and president.
Former Level 3 CTO Andrew Dugan replaced CenturyLink’s former CTO Aamir Hussain in November. Post-purchase, Dugan had served as the VP of technology planning and network architecture at CenturyLink. The company said that Hussain left the company as a result of organizational changes in the product and technology unit.
The same week, CenturyLink named Neel Dev as permanent CFO. Dev had been serving as interim CFO following Sunit Patel’s departure from the company in September. Dev was the group VP of finance at Level 3 and took on the same role for CenturyLink when the companies merged operations.
Additional shakeups to CenturyLink’s executive team came as James Feger, who led CenturyLink’s network virtualization development, left the company after 14 years to manage F5’s service providers unit. Feger was replaced by Anil Simlot, who was VP of virtual services development and support. Travis Ewert, who was VP of SDN and big data at CenturyLink, left shortly after Feger. Ewert’s replacement has yet to be named.