The defection of Craig McCollum, general manager of the group that handles most of Best Software's mid-market accounting systems, left one reseller musing. "Haven't an awful lot of executives left Best this year?"
So it seems. McCollum, general manager of the mid-market division, earlier this year had replaced David Butler, the executive vice president, who had run the MAS 90 side of the business for eight years. Greg Head, general manager of Act, took planned retirement despite the company's efforts to keep him. Kent Hollrah, president of MIP when it was acquired and since then general manager of Non-Profit Solutions, also left.
But I posed the following to the questioner: Were these people more critical than the stream of people leaving Microsoft Business Solutions (which just hired McCollum)? Those included members of Doug Burgum's senior management team such as Michael Olsen, originally senior vice president of communications at Great Plains, and Bonnie Robertson, who had presented the channel program information only a year ago at the first Worldwide reseller conference. And who could have been more key than Jodi Uecker-Rust, Great Plans' COO and a vice president under Burgum when she left?
The departures at the two companies look fairly similar. Both companies have grown quickly. MBS with Great Plains' purchase of Solomon, followed by its own acquisition by Microsoft, which then added Navision. Sage, which bought Best software in 2000, added Accpac and Softline this year. All of a sudden, these two units are much larger than before and with cultures that are rapidly changing.
You can say McCollum broke the pattern. But he is part of a pattern of non-Great Plains personnel taking over key positions of MBS. His move, observers say, was also driven by family connections in the Seattle area.
And not everyone wants to be part of a billion-dollar company. One executive who left Best made that comment privately in departing for a smaller operation. Butler made it more publicly in saying he wanted to run a company as he took a CEO job with a smaller software firm. Hollrah did the same thing.
As companies grow, people who ran things find they no longer do. Managers who had power over spending for advertising and marketing campaigns find themselves forced to adhere to a broader corporate plan. Executives who were comfortable with the fast-paced growing of technology and who enjoyed the challenge of reacting to change, find that change has slowed.
Some opt for the smaller pond and the ability to be heard over the rest.
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