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Unify Hires Westcon's Douglas as CEO in 'Final Step' of Recent C-Level 'House-Cleaning'

December 04, 2013 - News

**Editor's Note: Click here to see which channel people were on the move in December and January.**

Dean Douglas, who served as president and CEO of distributor Westcon Group for more than five years, is taking over as CEO of Unify, the former Siemens Enterprise Communications.

The news comes a day after Westcon announced the appointment of Dolph Westerbos as its new chief officer.

Douglas will succeed Hamid Akhavan on Jan. 16. At that point, Akhavan will join the Unify board; he led Unify since February 2010. Unify did not say why Akhavan is stepping down from his CEO role but Unify has been doing some C-level house-cleaning of late, as Aberdeen's Andrew Borg, research director, pointed out in a blog post.

"Although Akhavan is ‘moving up’ to a board director position, this is the final step in the recent ‘clean sweep’ of the Unify executive ranks:

  • Hamid Akhavan (President/CEO)
  • Chris Hummel (COO/CMO)
  • Eve Aretakis (EVP Product)
  • Mark Greenquist (CFO – for a mere 7 months)

These executives don’t seem to be leaving under a dark cloud; conversely, they appear to leave a track record to be proud of: a successful company relaunch and Project Ansible pre-launch," Borg wrote.

The C-level "house-cleaning" comes as sales of the OpenScape have stalled, Borg said, and private investors, including Gores Group, reportedly are getting antsy for Ansible sales to kick in.

"Although they may have drunk the Ansible Kool-Aid (it is a very compelling vision on the future of next-generation communications), it looks like they lacked confidence in the former team’s ability to execute on that vision that they had put into place so well," Borg wrote.

If that's the case, Borg said, Douglas needs time to assemble his new executive team.

"His track record at Westcon is strong in terms of channel sales enablement and tactical execution, two areas that will be critical in Unify’s next chapter. So let’s see whom he hires to do what, and how quickly they can jump in the saddle of that fast-moving horse that is Ansible," Borg said.

To be sure, Unify did say it chose Douglas for his understanding of the enterprise technology sector and experience in channels.

"I am very happy that after many months of searching, we have found the ideal successor and leader in Dean," said Mark Stone, chairman of Unify's executive board, in a prepared statement, adding, "Dean has an impressive track record of creating growth both organically and via successful acquisitions."

Douglas brings experience not only from Westcon, but from LCC International, a wireless service provider engineering services firm, and IBM and Motorola.

"Cloud-based delivery opens up entirely new consumption, commercial and distribution models and I see Unify as perfectly positioned to innovate new ways for enterprise users to access the best collaboration tools," he said in a prepared statement.

Under Akhavan, Unify rebranded from Siemens Enterprise Communications and launched the Project Ansible platform, scheduled for release in mid-2014.

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