After 20 years of service, long-standing Cisco CEO John Chambers (pictured) has announced he is to step down from his post at the end of July 2015 to assume the role of executive chairman and chairman of the board.
Chambers, renowned for his open and easy-going style, joined Cisco in 1991 as head of sales a year after the company first went public.
He took up the position of CEO in 1995 just as the growth of the internet was beginning to drive demand for new networking products. Chambers ensured Cisco caught this transition, and by March 2000, at the height of the dotcom bubble, it was the most valuable company in the world, with a market cap of $500m.
In the past decade, Chambers steered Cisco through the economic crash of 2008 and in more recent years, began to drive the business into new fields, such as servers, virtualisation and cloud computing. He has also kept a keen eye on emerging trends in the networking sector, such as the internet of things.
Operations vet Robbins steps up
At the same time as Chambers’ retirement, Cisco also announced that its board has unanimously decided to elevate Cisco’s current senior vice-president of worldwide operations, Chuck Robbins, to the hot seat, in the culmination of a 16-month selection process.
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In his current role, Robbins – himself a veteran Cisco man, having signed up in 1997 – looks after the firm’s global sales and partner team, with ultimate control over Cisco’s $40bn channel organisation. He was also a cheerleader for Cisco’s forays into security, sponsoring both its Sourcefire and Meraki acquisitions.
“Chuck knows every Cisco segment, technology area, and geography, and will move the company forward with the speed required to capitalise on the opportunities in front of us," said Chambers. "He is a champion of the Cisco culture and has an incredible ability to inspire, energise, and connect with employees, partners, customers and global leaders.
“We've selected a very strong leader at a time when Cisco is in a very strong position. Today’s pace of change is exponential – every company, city and country is becoming digital, navigating disruptive markets, and Cisco’s role in the digital transformation has never been more important," he added.
"Our next CEO needs to thrive in a highly dynamic environment, to be capable of accelerating what is working very well for Cisco, and disrupting what needs to change.”
Robbins paid tribute to his outgoing boss, saying: “Over the past 20 years, John Chambers’ vision and leadership have built Cisco into one of the most important companies in the world; a company fiercely committed to delivering for its customers, shareholders, partners and employees.”