Lenovo Canada has replaced its president Heather Ross with former Ingram Micro GM Murray Wright.
For Wright, this position ends a whirlwind year, which saw the 22-year veteran of the IT industry be dismissed from his job at the distributor and land at the $14-billion start-up.
Today was Wright’s second day on the job and he took time out to talk to ITBusiness.ca about his new role.
ITBusiness.ca: Can you tell me how you landed at Lenovo Canada as its president?
Murray Wright: After parting from Ingram Micro Canada I took some time off in the summer to just relax. As September came I ramped up my personal intensity to identify several companies I was intrigued with. I started contacting them and I had met Lenovo’s Scott Smith (executive vice-president and GM of Lenovo Americas) and I reintroduced myself to him. I knew of him from past dealings. At the same time, there was a change at the company. Heather Ross was thinking of her next move in her life and that’s how it got started. Subsequently I met with other executives at Lenovo to talk and I liked what I heard. They 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.
ITB: Is getting this job a relief for you so soon after Ingram?
MW: I have confidence in my abilities. I am confident that at Ingram Micro I did a good job. That was reinforced from many customers and vendors that I talk to afterwards. So I always felt when talking and networking in the market it was about timing and fit in a leadership scenario. And I was fortunate about the timing. I can’t control it but I understand the circumstances. The timing was excellent and I am positive it will be a good fit for me as well.
ITB: The Lenovo job looks to be more challenging. Do you think you ended up with a better job?
MW: I think it is a different job. Any way you describe it I am on day two and a half and I think if we circle back after I’ve been in the saddle for 12 months I’ll have a better answer. I can tell you I’m excited and the potential at Lenovo is exciting. It’s a different company and its mandate is different than distribution. My understanding of the channel will help at Lenovo. Another consideration right now with all the changes is that Lenovo is in the spotlight.
ITB: I know you have experience with Xerox, but you have spent a long time at a distributor. Do you think that will be a challenge getting your head around leading an IT vendor?
MW: I was GM of Sharp Electronics for almost five years so I can relate to supply chain management and product management. The challenge at Sharp is not at the same scale as Lenovo. I have a good cross section of experience dealing with customers and the channel from a manufacturer/distribution standpoint. There is not a lot I haven’t seen that is unfamiliar with me. The biggest problem I have is getting around all the acronyms. I think IBM over achieved in the use of acronyms.
ITB: With what happened to you at Ingram Micro will it pose a problem in your new role dealing with them as a key partner?
MW: Not at all. The relationship with Ingram Micro will be professional. I was treated very fairly and decisions get made for various reasons. I am very comfortable working with them and they are an important partner for us.
ITB: Have you or are you going to call the other distributors such as Tech Data and Synnex and what do you think that call is going to be like?
MW: I have already been in touch with all our distributor partners. This week we will have a distributor roundtable and its tomorrow and I plan on attending. I have received voice and emails and they have been nothing but supportive and positive. I am looking forward to doing business with them and I bring a lot of knowledge of distribution so I can’t be tricked about distribution.
ITB: Heather Ross has said that Lenovo had to dramatically increase its channel business. Currently it is at 65 per cent. Do you feel the same way?
MW: As you know, I support the channel. In the preliminary discussion I had with Heather Ross she has briefly downloaded what the business priorities are. It will take me some time to get around that business. However, it is a necessity to depend on the channel to grow. Absolutely we will do that. The channel is an integral part of our growth process.
ITB: Has Lenovo corporate instructed you in any way and what would that be?
MW: I think they entrust me in leadership to focus on growing the business and ensuring the long-term health of the company and more importantly its mantra is to grow the business. I will focus on customer satisfaction and running a healthy technology business in Canada.
ITB: Do you have any goals in mind from the outset on where you want Lenovo to be and go in the market?
MW: I have been impressed with the team here at Lenovo. They are a wonderful collection of smart and dedicated people here. All the fundamentals are here and there is no reason why with some savvy the Lenovo/IBM combination can’t be successful in Canada. I will be working on the long term, but I will say personally that type of success keeps me fired up and motivated.
ITB: How many employees will you be leading at Lenovo Canada?
MW: Lenovo Canada has just over 500 employees.
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