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John Chambers to step down as Cisco executive chairman

Former CEO John Chambers will leave the networking sector kingpin after 27 years, supplier reveals

Cisco executive chairman and former CEO John Chambers will not seek re-election to the supplier’s board of directors when his term expires in December 2017, the company has revealed.

Chambers, who served as CEO from January 1995 to July 2015, oversaw the Cisco transition from a pure-play hardware supplier into the internet age, and laid the foundations for its current pivot towards the world of software networking, led by his successor as CEO, Chuck Robbins.

Since being named to the board two years ago, Chambers has focused on supporting Robbins and has engaged extensively with enterprise customers and government around the world.

“John’s brilliant mind, compassion and charismatic leadership have helped shape Cisco for over 20 years, and for that we are all grateful,” said Robbins.

“His influence on the industry is immense, and he built Cisco around a culture of integrity and innovation that will continue to serve our employees, partners and customers for decades to come,” he said. “I have no doubt he will continue to have a lasting impact with his future endeavours.”

Following his retirement on 11 December, Chambers will be given the honorary title of chairman emeritus, while at the same time Robbins is expected to be appointed as chairman.

Cisco is also expected to reduce the size of the board to 11 members – 10 independent – as part of the process.

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“John’s tremendous vision, energy and passion helped Cisco become the great company it is today,” said Carol Bartz, lead independent director at Cisco and former Yahoo! CEO.

“His leadership helped bring the internet to billions of people around the world, enabling them to access information, build connections and improve their lives.

“At the right time, he initiated and brought to fruition a CEO succession process that resulted in the right person, Chuck Robbins, leading the company into the future,” she said. “We owe John a debt of great gratitude for his extraordinary service to Cisco.”

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