Lenovo said it has replaced the president of its Canadian arm less than a year after IBM’s historic sale of its PC business with the former general manager of one of its key distribution partners.Spokespeople for Lenovo Canada confirmed that Heather Ross, who led IBM Canada’s PC division prior to the deal, left to pursue an opportunity with a bank. The position will be filled by Murray Wright, who was dismissed from his role as Ingram Micro’s Canadian GM earlier this year. The distributor’s purge also saw the dismissal of marketing manager Dave Walsh.
The US$1.2-billion Big Blue/Lenovo deal was first announced in December 2004 and completed in June. IBM retained an 18.9 per cent stake in the company and characterized the deal more as a partnership than an outright sale. Lenovo, a PC powerhouse in Asia, moved its headquarters from China to New York City, and swelled its ranks by 10,000 by adding IBM employees, including Ross. Lenovo also retained IBM’s ThinkPad and ThinkCentre brands and its laptop and PC products still come with an IBM label as part of a five-year services and marketing agreement.
Ross, who could not immediately be reached for comment, spoke to ITBusiness.ca in June about the transition and future of the company.
“It’s very much a collaborative effort,” she said. “In Canada, we are a wholly owned subsidiary of Lenovo Group. We are going to continue to focus on servicing the marketplace that we have served well over the last number of years.”
The management shuffle is a career comeback for Wright. He will report directly Scott D. Smith, executive vice-president and GM of Lenovo Americas, and will be responsible for Lenovo Canada’s sales, marketing, brand and channel strategies.
At Ingram, he was responsible for implementing the distributor’s outsourcing strategy, where back-office functions were shifted to India.
Although Ingram originally said it promoted Wright because the company recognized key decision-making was taking too long from Ingram’s headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif., he was ousted as it returned to a more North American-wide operations model.
“(Lenovo) felt by having someone outside its executive core — and what I mean by that is outside the core IBM heritage — would bring a balance and perspective Lenovo did not have. This is something Steve Ward (Lenovo’s CEO) was actively pursuing. I’m excited to be here,” Wright said
Though he will bring an expertise in managing the Canadian reseller channel at Lenovo, Wright will be taking over an organization that continues to sell direct to customers through its Web site and through its own sales force. Last year the PC division recorded a 23 per cent increase in worldwide revenues over 2003, 72 per cent of which went through the channel.
Lenovo executives recently challenged partners to sell US$3 billion in PC products under the special-pricing Topseller Express program this year, US$1 billion more than they did last year. Competitors including Hewlett-Packard and Dell have said IBM’s decision to sell off its desktop division has created fear and uncertainty in Big Blue’s customer base about the stability of its PC line.
The company’s most recent product releases include the ThinkCentre E Series line of PCs designed for small businesses.

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