Cisco appoints Sameer Garde (25th batch) as India and SAARC President

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Networking giant Cisco has appointed Sameer Garde as its India head effective August 1, following the exit of Dinesh Malkani, who was President Cisco India and SAARC, earlier this month.

Malkani, who continued in his role until Monday, will remain associated with Cisco as strategic advisor till the end of September.

On being contacted, a Cisco India spokesperson confirmed the development. “We are thrilled that Sameer Garde has joined us as President, Cisco India and SAARC. The India site has been at the forefront of driving innovation and digital transformation. Sameer will help us redouble our commitment to being a company fiercely committed to delivering for its customers, partners and employees,” the company said in a statement.

Top management exits

Nal Gollagunta, who took over as MD of Enterprise Sales this May, resigned three weeks ago and exited the company on Monday after a five years and five months at Cisco.

According to Cisco insiders, Gollagunta resigned because he was not considered for Malkani’s role, which he was gunning for. Cisco is yet to name Gollagunta’s successor.

The company has seen a spate of top-level exits, with Puneet Gupta, MD of Enterprise and Public Sector Sales, quitting in April. Gaurav Agarwal, who took over as head of Public Sector business from Gupta, exited Cisco last month to join Symantec as its Managing Director - India and SAARC.

A Cisco veteran of 13 years, Amit Malik, head of Services Sales - India and SAARC, who took on the additional responsibility of Public Sector Sales at Cisco after Agarwal quit, has been promoted to MD of Public Sector Sales and Services for India and SAARC effective August 1. Malik, who is currently based in Kolkata, will move to Delhi in September-end.

Garde is joining Cisco at a time when the company is facing stiff competition in both its enterprise and public sector businesses, and is struggling to meet its revenue targets of $2 billion in FY2018 and $5 billion by 2020.

“Malkani’s exit is an indicator of the larger problem that Cisco India is facing with meeting its revenue targets. On the enterprise side, it is losing out to EMC and VMware; and on the public sector side, matters have slowed down considerably ever since the company’s public sector deals were exposed by reports in the media, late last year,” said an analyst who wished to be anonymous.

‘Dressed up’ revenues

Malkani in an interaction with BusinessLine earlier this year said Cisco India has outpaced industry growth rates of 9-10 per cent with a phenomenal run from Q4 of FY2014 at 18 per cent revenue growth, to the beginning Q1 of FY2017 with 28 per cent revenue growth.

However Cisco insiders pointed out that the company “dresses up its quarterly revenue numbers.” For instance, if Cisco wins a $200-million deal, the customer has only $40 million to offer upfront, the rest is entirely financed by Cisco Capital over a period of time. This is true for most of Cisco’s deals, they said.

A Dell India veteran of nine years, Garde joined Dell as Director Sales in July 2004 and quickly rose up the ladder to become President and MD of Dell India in March 2012, a role he held for one year. He then joined Samsung India as its Senior Vice-President and Country Head - Enterprise Business in June 2013. He quit Samsung a year later to join Philips Healthcare as its President for South Asia in July 2014, a role he held for one year and five months before quitting.