Cisco Systems is a US company based in San Jose in California that designs, manufactures, and sells networking equipment.
Cisco chief John Chambers lists possible successors
Comments by veteran John Chambers underscore new openness to change at the top
Forty years after his death, two of Bruce Lee's siblings reminisce about their famous brother's life and a legacy that is inspiring a whole new generation of fighters. Jo Baker reports.
Cisco Systems chief executive officer John Chambers has identified some of the senior managers who he and the board are considering as possible successors when he retires, a move that could come in two to four years.
He said this week there were as many as 10 candidates and directors reviewed the list quarterly.
They include Gary Moore, chief operating officer; Robert Lloyd, executive vice-president of worldwide operations; Chuck Robbins, senior vice-president of the Americas; and Edzard Overbeek, senior vice-president of global services.
Chambers, 63, has been chief executive at Cisco since 1995, one of the longest tenures in the quickly shifting technology industry, and his remarks on succession underscore new openness to change at the top of the company.
He navigated Cisco through a rise that briefly made it the world's most valuable company. He also guided it through the dotcom bust, the recent economic crisis and the advent of a fresh crop of competitors.
"You begin to look at how these transitions occur, and the job of the board and myself is to make sure this next one goes really smooth," Chambers said. "Assuming the board wants me to, and assuming the shareholders do, I'll stay on as chairman after that."
Chambers ordered a management overhaul last year to stem profit-margin erosion and win back business lost to such competitors as Juniper Networks and Hewlett-Packard. He said leadership changes were helping Cisco, the biggest maker of routers and switches that shuffle data traffic, prepare for a new chief.
"You're going to see me move our players around to get more responsibility," Chambers said. "You'll see us increase that overall. I can no longer bring up my leaders in silos."
Chambers cited as an example the engineering responsibilities given to Nick Adamo, senior vice-president in charge of global architectures and segments.
Moore, who joined Cisco in 2001 and became chief operating officer last year, would lead the company if the chief executive was suddenly unable to continue his duties, in what Chambers described as the "hit by the bus" scenario. He said the next chief would probably come from within the company.
Chambers said culture and salary had helped the San Jose, California- based company retain executives even as competitors tried to lure them away with compensation as high as five times what they got at Cisco.
Even so, some top managers have exited in recent years. In some cases, the departures reflected dismay with a management structure that investors and former employees said slowed decision-making and contributed to market-share losses. Chambers took steps last year to dismantle the system.
Asked about the challenges facing Hewlett-Packard, Chambers said reviving the Silicon Valley icon was a "hard hand to play". He said he would have advised Meg Whitman, chief executive since last year, not to take the job.
"I like Meg Whitman a lot," Chambers said. "She's doing this out of the goodness of her heart, and I would have told her not to."
Chambers also said Cisco planned to make small acquisitions to expand in areas such as video, collaboration, virtual data centres, mobility and security.
The company said this week it had acquired ThinkSmart Technologies, an Irish software company that delivers location data analysis using Wi-Fi technology. Terms were not disclosed.
Chambers said Cisco would not make large purchases of companies. In storage, "we're much more interested in partnering" than doing acquisitions, he said.