Cisco Systems’ CEO-to-be Chuck Robbins is continuing to quickly remake the networking giant’s executive team, naming 10 people to new positions while letting go of such well-known company leaders as Padmasree Warrior and Edzard Overbeek.
The naming of the new executives comes in the wake of the resignations this week of presidents Rob Lloyd and Gary Moore, and more than seven weeks before Robbins takes the reins from longtime CEO John Chambers.
The bulk of Cisco’s new leaders come from within the company, and Robbins in a post on the company blog wrote that it was time to put them into these new roles.
“We have been developing and attracting our next generation of leaders for many years, and I’m confident that this team is ready to lead Cisco’s next chapter,” he wrote. “They know how Cisco works, what makes Cisco great, and how we can accelerate our current momentum. Some have been with the company for as long as I have or longer, a third have joined Cisco in the last 3 years, and others are new to Cisco.”
Robbins noted that with the rapid changes happening in the IT industry and business world, “it’s critical that our leadership team understands our customers, delivers results, brings diverse perspectives and experiences, and builds world-class, highly motivated teams. This is what will differentiate us as a much faster, innovative organization that delivers the best results for our customers.”
Chambers, who has been Cisco’s CEO for a decade, announced May 4 that Robbins, a 17-year veteran with the company who currently is its senior vice president of worldwide operations, will replace him July 26. The move surprised some industry observers who had expected Rob Lloyd, Cisco’s president of development and sales, to be given the reins. However, Chambers said that in such a rapidly changing IT industry, the next CEO needs to be one that can “thrive in a highly dynamic environment,” and that Robbins “is unique in his ability to translate vision and strategy into world-class execution, bringing together teams and ecosystems to drive results.”
Cisco is trying to become more of an enterprise IT solutions and services provider at a time when the networking industry is changing with such technologies as software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV), and the industry is seeing the cloud, big data analytics, IT mobility and other trends influencing customer needs and demands.
Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told eWEEK that such extensive turnover in executive leadership is not uncommon when a new CEO is named, particularly at a company like Cisco, where the current CEO has been in the position for so long. The new CEO will want to appoint his own team, and those C-level executives who had hoped to get the top job “have to sit back and assess their careers,” King said.
Cisco’s Executive Leadership Turnover Continues
However, he said there seems to be something of a “generational shift” going on within the industry, noting that Chambers is not the only longtime CEO stepping down. King pointed to Larry Ellison in September 2014 stepping down as Oracle’s CEO—though he is still very much involved with the company as its chairman and CTO—and discussions EMC CEO Joe Tucci has had with his company’s board of directors about his tenure.
“This is all coming at a time where traditional IT is under fire from a number of positions,” the analyst said. “It’s important for even the most established and successful company … to have someone in leadership who knows not just where the market is, but where the market’s going.”
Cisco’s Robbins noted the need to keep ahead of the changes in the industry. The new executive leaders “have the capabilities, accomplishments, and the values required to lead us into the future. Their combined vision, passion and authenticity, along with a focus on strategy, results, and innovation truly differentiate this team.”
Among those new leaders is Pankaj Patel, who is executive vice president of development, who will continue to lead the 25,000 development engineers and oversee Cisco’s $36 billion technology portfolio, and Rebecca Jacoby, who had been CIO and is now senior vice president for operations. Hilton Romanski, senior vice president and head of business development, will replace Warrior as Cisco’s chief technology and strategy officer.
Joe Cozzolino will replace Overbeek as senior vice president of services. Other new appointments are Kelly Kramer as executive vice president and CFO, Francine Katsoudas as senior vice president and chief people officer, Chris Dedicoat as senior vice president of worldwide sales, Karen Walker as senior vice president and chief marketing officer, and Mark Chandler as senior vice president and general counsel.
Ruba Borno, who is joining Cisco from the Boston Consulting Group, is the vice president of growth initiatives and chief of staff.
Wim Elfrink, who is Cisco’s chief globalization officer, will retire July 25. Warrior will stay during the transition until September, while Overbeek also will stay through the transition for a year.