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Exclusive: Amid Surprise Layoffs, HP's Sue Barsamian Has High Hopes for Enterprise Group, Partners

By TC Doyle
May 29, 2014 - News

HP’s surprise announcement that it will reduce its workforce by an additional 11,000-16,000 people has put the company’s turnaround in the spotlight again. But HP Senior Vice President Sue Barsamian has high hopes for the company’s Enterprise Group and its hybrid cloud solutions.

HP's Sue BarsamianBarsamian is the senior vice president and general manager for Enterprise Group (EG) Worldwide Indirect Sales. Her mission is to increase sales and productivity through indirect channels, including resellers, distributors, alliance partners and OEMs. It’s a big job. So far, Barsamian has received wide praise for how she handles it, though the enterprise group, where much of the HP’s best intellectual property resides, saw sales dip by 2 percent in the quarter ended April 30. While enterprise server and networking sales grew, the group overall was pulled down by weakness in the storage and business critical systems divisions.

In this exclusive interview with Channel Partners’ executive editor T.C. Doyle, Barsamian explained how the group is positioning itself for improved results. The newest layoffs notwithstanding, Barsamian is confident that HP is returning to form after two difficult years. She believes HP is ready again “to play offense." And she gives a lot of the credit for the repositioning to CEO Meg Whitman, who took charge amid an accounting scandal, an exodus of talent and whole lot of questions about the company’s future.

Since joining the company, Whitman has restored stability both inside and outside the company. Partners report that they are more confident than at any time in the past several years, and customer satisfaction (pockets of it, anyway) has improved.

While the latest job cuts and lukewarm outlook left some company watchers scratching their heads — the total number of job cuts related the Whitman’s turnaround plan will be close 50,000, which is a number roughly equal to the entire size of Google's worldwide workforce — Barsamian’s confidence is rising. Here’s a sampling from the interview.

Channel Partners: HP has made numerous changes in the past few years. Where are you today?

Sue Barsamian: We feel we have done a lot and are coming out as others, including Dell, NetApp and Cisco, are heading in. It’s not a walk in the park [for us]. There is work to be done. But we do feel that a lot of heavy lifting is behind us at a period when other others are just getting started. Our goal is to start playing full offense.

CP: Are you on offense?

SB: We definitely are. As IBM begins to sell those x86 [server] assets to Lenovo, we are moving forward with our plans. In contrast, they are dealing with perception that they are leaving hardware. First the PCs went. Now the x86 servers.

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