New CEO at Descartes

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Descartes Systems Group has announced the appointment of Edward J. Ryan as Chief Executive Officer, taking the spot that has been occupied by Art Mesher since 2004. Mr. Ryan has been serving as Descartes’ Chief Commercial Officer since 2011, and served in other roles since joining Descartes in 2000.

The announcement comes just 2 weeks after Descartes’ recent user event, and a week before Descartes is due to announce third-quarter fiscal 2014 (Q3FY14) financial results. Although Descartes states that the elevation of Mr. Ryan is in accordance with a Descartes succession plan, Descartes also references health and personal issues as more immediate reasons for Mr. Mesher stepping down.

Art Mesher has achieved very significant results, joining Descartes at a time when many undoubtedly thought it was the wrong thing to do at the wrong time. Art Mesher went on to turn things around at Descartes with some extraordinary decisions and actions, which have elevated Descartes to a level of success that many would not have envisioned 10 years ago. Mr. Mesher has told the story of meeting Descartes’ then-CEO in 1997 when Descartes was a $6 million company and Mesher was an analyst with Gartner.

Descartes’ traction and success is also demonstrated by its recent report of record attendance for the 9th straight year at its Evolution 2013 Global User & Partner Conference, held November 12-14, 2013. Descartes is already advising, in advance of the event, that they expect to report “record operating performance,” with revenues in the range of above US $38 million.
In another move, J. Scott Pagan takes the role of Descartes’ President and Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Pagan has served as Descartes’ Chief Corporate Officer and Corporate Secretary since 2011.

Descartes has built a solid value proposition that is based on a logistics network, and a set of deep logistics and supply chain solutions. The question is how, and how well, Edward Ryan will be able to continue the strategy and success. It is very probable, but not certain, that this has been planned for awhile. Descartes is definitely a company to watch in 2014.
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