Cisco Canada to get new president: source

Cisco Systems Canada Co. will reveal a new president and CEO next week, according to a source close to the company.

Terry Walsh, formerly managing director of Cisco’s Australia/New Zealand operations, is expected to take the helm, Cisco

partner and distributorTech Data Canada Tech Data Canada president Rick Reid told CDN Wednesday. Walsh was promoted to vice-president of Cisco Canada in May, according to the company Web site.

Walsh is a 22-year veteran of the Australian IT industry and has spent the last six years with Cisco. He was made managing director of the Aussie operation in August 1999 — a few months after Cisco Canada handed the CEO reins over to Pierre-Paul Allard.

Under Walsh, Cisco Australia won the Prime Minister’s Award for Community/Corporate Partnerships and was named Best Employer to Work For in the 1,000-or-fewer staff category in a study of 160 Australian organizations by Hewitt Associates.

Spokespeople for Cisco Systems of Canada refused to comment on any staff changes.

Allard assumed the helm at Cisco Canada in March 1999 after six years as the company’s vice-president of enterprise operations and eastern Canada regional manager. He came to Cisco after a number of engineering and marketing jobs in 13 years at IBM Canada in Montreal. He graduated with degrees in engineering, commerce and biology from the University of Ottawa.

In March 2002, Allard was named co-chair of the Canadian e-Business Initiative, a successor of the Canadian e-Business Opportunities Roundtable aimed at developing a national e-commerce strategy.

Through Allard’s term, Cisco has fared better than other networking companies, though it did not escape the market meltdown unscathed. In the spring and summer of 2000, Cisco, Nortel Networks and Lucent Technologies all had share prices peaking in the US$80 to US$90 range. On Wednesday, Cisco traded at about US$20 on Nasdaq, while Nortel shares traded at about US$3.50 and Lucent’s at about US$2.

Allard credited Cisco’s better performance to a more diversified approach in an April 2001 interview with Communications and Networking. “”If you look at how we structure our company, all those segments of the market are business units,”” Allard said. “”They can compete, they are all measured on their ability to be No. 1 or No. 2 in the market. A slowdown in optical transport demand (for example) would only slow down one-twelfth of our business, and other businesses are ramping up so fast they more than make up for it.””

Meanwhile, about a quarter of Nortel’s revenue came from the optical networking market, which was hammered as smaller telcos failed and big carriers reined in spending, according to Lawrence Surtees, telecommunications analyst with IDC Canada Ltd.

“”Cisco maybe didn’t see its revenues get creamed”” in the telecom slump, but it still faces challenges expanding its top line, Surtees said.

Walsh takes charge at the beginning of what Surtees called “”a pitched battle”” between Cisco and Nortel. Surtees said that battle will be won or lost on the IP telephony front. The companies are not battling just for wallet share from the big budget players, but also for future IP architecture.

Nortel, well-entrenched in the telecom infrastructure, is urging a slower “”migrate and evolve”” approach, Surtees said, while comparative upstart in the space Cisco advocates a “”rip-and-replace”” approach.

Cisco has booked several large IP telephony contracts in the enterprise space, notably with Canada Life, which will have deployed more than 3,000 IP telephones by the fall and will migrate the entire organization to IP telephony. The company recently shipped its two-millionth IP handset worldwide.


— Files from Dave Webb

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