Sheila McGee-Smith
Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the...
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Sheila McGee-Smith | November 15, 2013 |


Chris Hummel Leaving Unify

Chris Hummel Leaving Unify With the Siemens rebranding behind him, Hummel has accepted a C-level role with a Fortune 500 company outside the communications industry.

With the Siemens rebranding behind him, Hummel has accepted a C-level role with a Fortune 500 company outside the communications industry.

It was just one month ago today that Chris Hummel was proudly photographed with his new Unify business card at the company's rebrand and re-launch event in New York City. Today an internal announcement was made that he is leaving Unify. Hummel followed this with a personal tweet, "Thanks to @UnifyCo. #UnifyNow brand is live & #ProjectAnsible vision/roadmap is public, so it's time for me to move on. Your time is now."

While the name of the specific company Hummel will be joining has not yet been made public, the internal announcement reports that Hummel has accepted a C-level role with a Fortune 500 company outside the communications industry, starting in December.

Hummel wore a lot of hats during his tenure at Unify, often holding multiple titles simultaneously. He joined Siemens three and a half years ago as Chief Marketing Officer. Within six months, he added the title of President of North America. In April 2012, with the added responsibilities of indirect sales and corporate development, Hummel's primary title became Chief Commercial Officer (CCO).

It was in this broadened role of CCO that Hummel's name became closely associated with the announcement of what the company calls its next generation enterprise collaboration platform, Project Ansible. Eve Aretakis, EVP, Product Management & Development, and her team not only worked on bringing Project Ansible to market but also rationalized the former Siemens portfolio into the virtualized set of solutions required for today's premises and cloud deployments.

Which leads me to the second announcement made in Unify CEO Hamid Akhavan's email to employees today; Aretakis will be leaving Unify to "take time away from the work world" as soon a successor can be appointed.

So why is Hummel leaving Unify now? When we spoke, he used the classic Godfather line: "They made me an offer I couldn't refuse." He describes the new role as offering a much bigger platform, on a much bigger stage, to have even more influence on how businesses change and operate.

The company Hummel is joining "has incredible strengths yet needs marketing to become a tool to push it to the next level." The company is involved in energy management, clean technology, and sustainability, all of which are hot, growing markets. Hummel says the position will allow him to continue to be involved in the convergence of operating technology and IT, which provides great material for market disruption.

It is disruption that Unify's Akhavan will be striving to minimize. A search is underway for a new leader for Unify's North American region; until then that team will report directly to Akhavan. Given the described need for continued tight control of brand execution across the business, the Global Marketing team will also report to the CEO.

We at No Jitter and Enterprise Connect are sorry to see Hummel leave our market. In just the past five months, he and his team have added a sense of anticipation and excitement to what has been a dulling "unified communications" story. We wish him well with his next set of challenges but would also welcome him back to our world without hesitation.

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