Microsoft Canada’s presidential switch: I don’t buy it

I’m finding it hard to believe that Eric Gales is leaving one of the best jobs in IT – the presidency of Microsoft Canada (NASDAQ: MSFT).

Microsoft Canada’s communications team is stating the departure as a run-of-the-mill switch at the top. The correspondence I got from the subsidiary was that the Microsoft Canada presidency is a two-to-three-year gig; executives come in and are promoted upstairs or to the Redmond, Wash., headquarters for bigger and better things. Sort of like a revolving door. I don’t buy it. There have been rumblings in the channel community that working conditions at Microsoft Canada were “unsettling”.

CDN has learned from a reliable source that key staff turnover led to a sharp decline in sales, and Microsoft Canada failed to meet its sales targets.

Also, consider this: Gales has established roots in the community. In fact, when he applied for the subsidiary presidency he was asked if he was going to stay long term. Gales moved his entire family here and applied for citizenship. He told me on a few occasions that he was making Canada his home.

Right now, Gales is in career limbo. From Microsoft Canada’s communications staff I was told that Gales will be working with newly named Canadian president Maxwell (Max) Long for the next 60 days to work on transition. Then he plans to take the summer off to decide if he’ll stay with Microsoft in another role or pursue other interests. I was also told that Gales waited to make this announcement by the end of fiscal. And, the subsidiary is in a healthy position.

There are two other factors to keep in mind. There’s no better job in this industry than being the president of Microsoft Canada. Former Microsoft Canada leaders Frank Clegg and David Hemler told me that leading Microsoft Canada was the best job they ever had.

And let’s not forget that this summer, Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference will be in Toronto. Gales played an instrumental part in bringing that show to Canada. I remember congratulating him in Los Angeles last year the night before the big announcement. He was so proud. He told me this was great news for Microsoft Canada, the City of Toronto and the channel community in Canada. And he was right on all three counts. So why would he leave now just a few short months before the big show?

As for Max Long, very little is known about him. CDN learned that he jumped at the opportunity to run Microsoft Canada when it was presented to him. He’s a U.K.-national but has worked in Redmond the past 10 years running corporate accounts for the worldwide small and midmarket solutions and partners group. He also enjoys snowboarding and will find plenty of hills here in Ontario to enjoy that sport.

I don’t have any further details on why Gales is leaving this prestigious job. We don’t know if the poor sales performance was the reason. Microsoft Canada isn’t offering up any interviews. I’ve interviewed Gales several times and I’ve always enjoyed being around him. It looked to be that he was having a blast. You could tell right away that he really cared about the channel and Microsoft Canada. He has a sharp business mind and he will be missed. CDN wishes him well.

Follow Paolo Del Nibletto on Twitter: @PaoloCDN.

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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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