Hewlett Packard Enterprise Global Vice President of SMB and Midmarket Maciek “Magic” Szczesniak, a 25-year HPE veteran and a beloved champion of the SMB market, is being replaced by Aruba Director of EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa) SMB Sales Lorenzo Piro.
“Lorenzo is a catalyst for transformation,” said HPE in a post on its HPE Engage and Grow LinkedIn page. “In his previous role at HPE, he had the opportunity to establish the Aruba SMB business in EMEA from scratch. Together with his inclusive and international team, he created sales programs, influenced product development and marketing strategy. SMB-MM is a key segment for HPE, and Lorenzo’s focus will be to drive growth for HPE in collaboration with channel partners.”
Piro, who is based in Belgium, was not available for comment on his new role and how it would impact partners.
Szczesniak could also not be reached for comment, but HPE did confirm he is no longer with the company. On his LinkedIn profile, Szczesniak said he was responsible for an organization of more than 500 employees, with HPE SMB revenue totalling more than $2 billionADVERTISEMENT
Szczesniak, who led a resurgence in SMB sales through distributors over the last several years, said earlier this year at a University of Washington Foster School of Business Transformation workshop that it was his dream to have partners deliver IT transformation to the 350 million small businesses around the world. “I want to digitally transform those 350 million SMBs,” he said. “This is such a big opportunity for us. I have 11 years to do it. I am still young. I hope I can do it before I retire.”
HPE partners told CRN that Piro has big shoes to fill given the energy, drive and determination that Szczesniak, who is widely known by his nickname Magic, brought to the worldwide SMB job.
Dean Colpitts, CTO at Canadian solution provider Members IT Group, Moncton, New Brunswick, one of HPE’s top GreenLake partners, said Magic has been a bigger-than-life SMB advocate who stepped up time and time again to represent SMB partners and customers.
“When there was an issue, Magic was there to go to bat for us, trying to raise hell to get whatever we needed changed,” said Colpitts. “We are losing a champion for the partner community. Magic looked out for us and our customers. I’m disappointed that he is being replaced. He gave HPE an SMB presence everywhere, from events to LinkedIn. I don’t understand why HPE did this. Magic was a passionate advocate for SMB customers and partners. We are going to miss him.”
Colpitts recalled that Magic stepped up last May to help SMB partners navigate product changes that could have negatively impacted customers and solution providers. “Magic raised our concerns and resolved the issues in favor of SMB partners and customers,” he said.
Colpitts’ advice for Piro: “Get out there and make sure you are engaging with partners. He absolutely has big shoes to fill.”
Pat Turney, director of partner relations at JMARK Business Solutions, Tulsa, Okla., said Magic could always be counted on to step up for SMB partners.
“Magic has always been an advocate for the channel, he was very involved and energetic, and he knows SMB very well,” said Turney. “He has a really good rapport with partners. He was very responsive to the needs of the channel. He has always been very responsive and personable. We saw his impact. He is such a great resource for SMB partners. I am looking forward to seeing where he lands so we can work with him again. Magic will be missed.”
Turney said Piro will have to get up to speed on the compute and storage business and also become accustomed to working with a much larger partner base. “My advice to him is to be strongly engaged with the SMB community, and that means managed service providers,” he said.
Often, executives unfamiliar with the SMB market do not consider the bread-and-butter small business market, which is primarily made up of businesses with 150 seats or less, said Turney. “The vast majority of our clients are 25 to 100 users,” he said. “We work with all those small companies. So many large companies just go for the enterprise.”
Bart Heungens, CEO of Bitcon, an HPE consultant in Belgium, said Magic was a tireless advocate for SMB partners. “Magic was very important for partners,” he said. “I always keep on telling HPE that beyond the Fortune 500, there are thousands of partners focused on SMB. Magic was the one person standing inside HPE for partners. We love him. Everytime there was an event, Magic was there, listening to the needs of HPE SMB partners. Magic always escalated our concerns up to the top. He has a lot of followers and people who love him. He was one of the only people really listening inside HPE with regard to the S and M in the SMB space.”
Heungens said he also knows Piro as a seasoned and capable executive. That said, Piro’s “biggest challenge,” he said, will be getting up to speed on compute, storage and GreenLake as a service. “I have full confidence that he will be able to do that. Magic had that experience. [Piro] will need to catch up for sure,” he said.
Piro’s appointment comes with HPE Senior Vice President Gilles Thiebaut, who oversees the global sales partner ecosystem for HPE, assembling a new worldwide team.
In May, Thiebaut named Ulrich Seibold, a 39-year HP/HPE veteran who had headed up the GreenLake business in Europe, as the new worldwide vice president of HPE’s GreenLake partner and service provider sales.
In August, Thiebaut named Simon Ewington, a 27-year HP/HPE veteran, as worldwide channel and partner ecosystem leader.
In addition, HPE Aruba in June named Lena Skov, a four-year Aruba veteran, as its new vice president of worldwide channels.
Piro started at HP as a networking sales specialist in 2011. In 2015, he became a category manager at Aruba and left that job to become an EMEA business development manager for Aruba.
In his LinkedIn profile, Piro said he is responsible for ensuring SMB and midmarket alignment with “HPE’s broader business goals, solutions portfolios, and ensuring all sales and revenue goals are met and/or exceeded.”
HPE said that Piro, who is fluent in four languages: French, Italin, Dutch and English, began his career “teaching music to kids, sharing the joy of melodies with the next generation.”
When he was younger, HPE said, Piro dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Now, HPE said, he’s thrilled to “explore new frontiers and lead the sales efforts with the same enthusiasm and curiosity.”LEARN MORE: SMB-Midmarket Opportunities | SMB Applications | Servers | Software as a Service
Steve Burke has been reporting on the technology industry and sales channel for over 30 years. He is passionate about the role of partners using technology to solve business problems and has spoken at conferences on channel sales issues. He can be reached at [email protected].
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