2 min read

Microsoft dealt leadership blows

The Canadian subsidiary looses its highest profile executive and its current president within days of each other

In a matter of a few days Microsoft Canada’s past and future disappeared.First, current president David Hemler sent a letter to CDN confirming he was leaving Microsoft Canada to be with his family in Minnesota. No one is going to fault anyone for putting family first and I commend Hemler for doing it. This move wasn’t an easy one to make since in his letter he indicated being the president of Microsoft Canada was the best job he ever had.
Then a few days later, Frank Clegg, who had run Microsoft Canada for close to 15 years, decided to leave the company and join Toronto-based solution provider Navantis as its chairman. Clegg is the man who I believe righted the Microsoft Canada ship back in 1991. It was during a time when the parent company was shuffling in U.S. executives such as Malcolm McTaggert and Patty Stonecipher. As fast as they shuffled in they quickly shuffled out of this region.
Clegg brought much needed stability. His track record of accomplishments over this period is second to none in the industry.
Hemler was hand-picked by Clegg to replace him. During an interview before Clegg’s much-publicized sabbatical, he said no one at Microsoft Canada was ready to take on this leadership role.
I thought Hemler to be a very intelligent individual. In his short time here he was smart enough to strengthen partnerships with distributors, key vendor partners and the channel. He also made himself available to the community, which furthered Microsoft’s profile of a good corporate citizen. These were the same kinds of attributes that Clegg had. I am not saying Hemler was a clone of Clegg, but his approach definitely built on Microsoft Canada’s stability in the market place.
With Hemler leaving and a virtual unknown in Phil Sorgen entering the picture as the new president, has Microsoft Canada reverted back to the early nineties where U.S. executives used this job as a stepping-stone in their career?
Microsoft is not like any other run of the mill IT company. It has clout in the market place and they make a difference in the community. Shuffling American executives into a leadership role of a significant Canadian subsidiary will diminish its importance.
I know I’m not giving Sorgen a chance here, but I have seen the U.S. executive shuffle too many times in this country. I think it is time for Microsoft to look to a Canadian to run the ship.