Channel leader steps down from his company

For 15 years John Kvasnic has been at the helm of one of Canada’s more innovative solution providers Navantis Inc. But after winning Country Partner of the Year at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, the CEO took a step back from building the Toronto-based solution provider for a new role as its vice-president, client experience.

Running the day-to-day operations will be former IBM and Microsoft senior executive Randy Lenaghan, who joined the company 10 months ago.Lenaghan told CDN that today’s announcement made the team at Navantis quite emotional. “Most of the team grew up with John,” he said.

Kvasnic said that this newly created role enables him to follow his passion which is to design and orchestrate great customer experiences.

Kvasnic told CDN that he put a succession plan in place about a year ago. “I realized that to succeed at the next level it required M&A skills and my passion is developing solutions and relationships with customers.”

Kvasnic told a story about one of Navantis’ first big clients; Honda Canada. Navantis was a 10 person company at the time and they would up against Big Blue in IBM Canada. Kvasnic and crew built a Web site for the car maker that included a car configuration tool that would give the viewer real-time changes without refreshing. The site ended up winning automotive awards and Navantis has kept Honda as a client for 14 years.

“Work like that was thrilling,” according to Kvasnic and he wants more of those experiences.He said that he will be continuing is current workload but will be more active and mobile visiting clients and other stakeholders. Kvasnic will still be on the board.

As for Lenaghan, he will be putting his stamp on the company. While he has not yet formalized his new strategy Lenaghan did say the plan is to continue to differentiate in the marketplace with unique offerings that are market specific. “We will still do traditional business, but I do not want to be a me-too solution provider. I want to be proactive and cover different markets through North America,” he said.

Lenaghan did reveal to CDN that he wants to go deeper with clients and not always be looking to acquire new customers. “I see the potential to go deeper with current clients in a new model that has a mechanism to build a program to manage larger clients similar to how Microsoft and IBM managed mature organizations,” he added.

Another area that is a priority for Lenaghan is to improve channel partner relations. He said that Navantis works with lots of partners but he will look to select the right ones and be more proactive in how those partnerships are managed.

Kvasnic has tasked Lenaghan to develop a three-year strategic plan that eventually will see the 300 person company (150 internal and 150 outsourced staff) grow to become a 600 to 700 person organization.

Lenaghan also said that board members Andy Papadopoulos and Frank Clegg will remain at their posts. Clegg is the chairman of the board, while Papadopoulos continues to have a customer facing role as well has developing the company’s Bring Your Own Device strategy.

Lenaghan was asked if this transitional move by Navantis, one of Microsoft Canada’s best known solution provider partners, was similar to the time when Bill Gates stepped down as Microsoft CEO for Steve Ballmer to become Chief Software Architect.

“We are not at the level of Gates and Ballmer, but this move does leverage what John is really great at and he is still here so I get the best of both worlds,” he said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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