Channel Chief's Resignation Casts Shadow Over CA

Gary Quinn resigned to "spend more time with his family," according to a letter to employees.



Twenty-five days ago Gary Quinn gave a speech that left many skeptical solution providers believing that CA was finally on the verge of becoming what it has often had trouble being - a consistently fair and lucrative partner to work with.

Yesterday, Quinn resigned. The executive vice president for indirect business operations - CA's channel chief - decided to leave "to spend more time with his family," according to a letter to CA employees from Mike Christenson, COO of the Islandia, N.Y. company.

The speech, given Aug. 15 at the XChange '06 conference in St. Louis, held by CRN publisher CMP Technology, was the first outline of an aggressive new channel strategy designed to triple CA's indirect sales volume and double the number of CA solution provider partner.

Quinn was candid about CA's past shortcomings as a channel partner. He said he worried that solution providers thought CA didn't listen to them. Later that evening, comedian Colin Quinn (no relation) said during the conference award show that the CA channel chief had sounded like a man in a 12-step program. "I'm sorry, please forgive me," the comedian said in an impersonation.

Given the channel's love/hate relationship with CA, the plan outlined by Quinn that day appeared to present a significant ground-floor opportunity to engage CA as a partner and benefit over the long term, said Terry Calloway, president of Data Technique, a CRN Fast Growth solution provider in Pittsburg, Kan., who attended Quinn's Aug. 15 speech.

Now Calloway worries for CA.

"They can act professional about (the loss of Quinn), or they can revert back to confusion," said Calloway. "We were hoping to move forward with them. They have many customers, and present a great deal of opportunity."

George Kafkarkou, senior vice president of SMB and consumer markets, will assume responsibility for CA's indirect sales efforts on an interim basis while a search is conducted for a replacement, the letter from Christenson said.

Kafkarkou told CRN that there will be "no change" to channel programs which were under development. Quinn will stay on for a short period to assist in an orderly transition, according to the letter.

Kafkarkou said Quinn has no other job lined up at this time. Quinn has more than 20 years of service at CA, and that has simply taken its toll, said Kafkarkou.

"It's a punishing schedule," said Kafkarkou, adding that Quinn would have only left "at a time that he thinks things are in great shape (at CA)."

CRN broke the news of Quinn's resignation. The anonymous source who alerted CRN about Quinn's looming departure said Kafkarkou "will bring the charisma and try to calm the channel, but I think it is significant for another senior person to leave CA."

CA has been hemorrhaging senior executives since CFO Jeff Clarke departed in April.

"(Quinn) was supposed to be the trusted advisor to Swainson, and bring the past poor channel direction back on track. What is just as significant also is the internal ripple effect this could have within the leadership in terms of being able to control the morale in the ranks," the source said.

Quinn had just returned to the role of channel chief in June, after a management shakeup that followed the discovery of problems with commission expenses.

Quinn's resignation angered one CA partner. "I'll tell you, they are lost. They have lost their way completely. They were making very serious commitments to us and they just could never pull the trigger," said the vice president of sales at a large solution provider and MSP in New York.

CA promised repeatedly to use its Tampa, Fla., call center operation to help drive business to the solution provider, but never gave the call center personal financial incentives to do so, he said. "These guys never got comped, so they never helped sell," he said.

Gordon Scobel, CEO of Qualitech, a solution provider in Bingham Farms, Mich., said Quinn's resignation is just one more reason to lose faith in vendors who promise big things to partners, then fail to execute. "It's so easy to run a good channel program," said Scobel. "I don't understand why a vendor - any vendor - can't get it right."

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