Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last week announced that Kevin Turner is leaving the company after 11 years as chief operating officer (COO), effective July 31, 2016. He will be joining Citadel Securities, a market maker of US stocks and options, as Chief Executive Officer.
As Microsoft’s COO, Turner oversees the company’s worldwide sales, field marketing and services organization. He also manages support and partner channels, company stores and corporate support functions, including information technology, licensing and pricing and operations.
According to a report on Microsoft’s News Center, Turner, who began his career at Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) where he rose through the ranks to become the youngest corporate officer in the company’s history, has a strong track record of results, with responsibility for the organization of more than 51,000 Microsoft employees in more than 190 nations joining Microsoft in 2005.
Under Turner’s leadership, Microsoft ended fiscal year 2015 with 8 percent growth and $93.6 billion in revenue, but his exit seems to signal the tech company is taking a new direction toward the future.
Microsoft, Charting New Path to Future
Microsoft’s employees learned of Turner’s departure through an email message  from CEO Satya Nadella, in which he outlined his plans for reorganizing the company’s senior leadership team.
“For the past year, Kevin and I have spoken a great deal about the transformation we are enabling our customers to drive. We have come a great distance, and we need to continue to reach for the next level of customer centricity and obsession in everything we do — sales, marketing, services and product development,” Nadella told employees. “It’s very important to have ‘one feedback loop’ across all parts of the company with customer value and satisfaction at the center. This means we must operate, learn and continuously improve collectively. To this end, with Kevin’s departure, I have made the decision to more deeply integrate the current SMSG organization into the rest of Microsoft and form one unified senior leadership team.”
Nadella, who took over  as Microsoft CEO in 20014, was seen as the man to help the giant tech company compete more effectively with rivals like Google, Apple and even Amazon, and also to deal with the emerging challenges of a rapidly changing technology market in which Microsoft is no longer the only big player. It now appears Nadella is consolidating his influence over Microsoft’s direction with the recent spate of executive appointments and reshuffles.
New Executive Appointments at Microsoft
Since Nadella took over as CEO, there has been a wave of executive reorganization at Microsoft. Nadella saw Turner’s job as integral to the company and touching so many areas that he said he wanted to spread out those responsibilities instead of concentrating all of that control in a single job function.
In the email to employees, he revealed that no less than five executives will be taking over Turner’s duties, including Judson Althoff, who will lead Worldwide Commercial Business, and Chris Capossela, who will lead Worldwide Marketing and Consumer Business.
Turner’s departure follows the exit of four other top executives at the company last June. They included former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who was head of Microsoft’s device group at the time of his departure; Mark Penn, who was EVP and Strategy Officer; Eric Rudder, who was in charge of advanced technology and Kirill Tatarinov, who was head of business solutions.
There is always going to be turnover when a new leader comes onboard. This has certainly been the case with Nadella, who has overseen not only the exit of Turner but of other executive holdovers from the era of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. And Turner’s departure certainly seems to coincide with Nadella’s plans for a more decentralized and customer centric management team.
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