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John Chambers, Cisco’s CEO of 20 years and chairman of its board, will step down from his CEO position later this year, to make way for internal successor Chuck Robbins (pictured).
The transition, effective July 26, 2015, also sees Chambers moving on to assume the role of executive chairman, while continuing to serve as chairman.
In this role, Chambers is expected to “devote his time to supporting Robbins and engaging closely with customers and governments around the world, with a focus on leading Cisco’s role in country digitisation.”
Having joined the company in 1991 as head of sales, Chambers has been credited with growing the company from $1.2 billion in annual revenue to its current $48 billion, while non-GAAP earnings per share has grown more than 3,000%.
His successor, Chuck Robbins, joined the company 17 years ago, most recently serving as senior vice president of worldwide operations, leading the global sales and partner team that drives $47 billion in business.
The formal CEO succession process commenced in January 2014, led by Cisco’s Compensation and Management Development Committee and Board of Directors.
It involved leadership assessments and 360-degree reviews of the top leaders, to identify leadership potential, strengths, development areas and the role they might play in the future leadership team.
“Every one of Cisco’s nine independent board members conducted formal one-on-one multi-hour interviews with each of the internal candidates,” wrote Cisco board member, Roderick C. McGeary, and CHRO Francine Katsoudas, in a blog post.
“The candidates also provided—in writing—their vision for the company and how they would execute their vision as CEO.”
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Said Chambers on the announcement, “This is the perfect time for Chuck Robbins to become Cisco’s next Chief Executive Officer. We’ve selected a very strong leader at a time when Cisco is in a very strong position.”
“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.”
Commented Robbins on his appointment, “I am focused on accelerating the innovation and execution that our customers need from us.”
“At a time when our industry is on the cusp of more disruption than we’ve ever encountered, I couldn’t be more confident in our ability to win, or more honoured to lead this great company.”