Microsoft Shakes Up Strategic Leadership Team

After spending nearly a month talking to employees in and around the Microsoft universe, newly appointed CEO Satya Nadella has begun to put his stamp on the company, at least as far as key executive appointments are concerned.

On Monday, Nadella announced changes to Microsoft’s Strategic Leadership Team (STL).

Twenty-two-year company veteran Chris Capossela will take over as executive vice president (EVP) and chief marketing officer, effectively giving Microsoft a single person in charge of global marketing. A longtime Microsoft loyalist with deep ties to the channel and consumer products groups, he will report directly to Nadella.

“[Chris] has been at the center of our devices and services transformation in SMSG as the worldwide leader of the Consumer Channels Group (CCG), starting with the formation and building of CCG, to overseeing the launch of numerous consumer products from Windows 8/8.1, Surface and Xbox One,” said Nadella in a memo to company employees.

In addition to Capossela, Mark Penn will also take on a new role within the organization. A former advisor to Hilary Clinton and an influential Microsoft strategist, he will relinquish his marketing responsibilities and focus instead on competitive research and analysis. Like Capossela, he will report directly to Nadella.

Accompanying these promotions is news that two important figures at Microsoft will soon leave the company. Tony Bates, whom some thought to be in the running for CEO, is leaving, as is former finance and marketing whiz Tami Reller.

Bates came to Microsoft via the company’s acquisition of Skype, where he served as CEO. During his time at Microsoft, he led the business development and evangelism team. (It will now be run by Eric Rudder, who will serve as its interim leader while continuing in his current role as executive vice president of Advanced Technology of Microsoft devices and services.)

During her time with the company, Reller served as CFO of the groups responsible for Microsoft Dynamics, products and services, and Windows.

With changes coming at a brisk pace, many partners are hoping that the company will clarify its channel messaging as soon as it can. In the interim, most are moving ahead with the opportunities at hand.

“Yes, changes are coming fast and furious, but we have to keep focused on what we are doing,” says Tony Pagnusat, the national Microsoft alliance director at solution provider Perficient. In an interview before Nadella’s memo was made public, he outlined the areas where Perficient saw new opportunity.

“Right now, we are thrilled with the ramp up of our Office 365 business. We also see huge opportunity ahead with Azure and Lync. I also get the sense that Microsoft has turned the corner with regards to cloud and security,” he said.

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