Just who is Chuck Robbins, the CEO-designate of Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO)?

First, he is a 17-year company veteran. Second, Robbins says he believes in the “limitless” future of the networking giant, which employees several thousand people in RTP. Here’s a look at the next face of Cisco.

By the way, he’s also a University of North Carolina graduate, holding a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a computer science concentration. He also is a graduate of Rocky Mount Senior High School. (Read more about his career and background online.)

Cisco had been searching for a successor to Chambers for well over a year, and Robbins was one of several internal candidates interviewed for the job. According to a Cisco blog post, Robbins was the unanimous choice of the selection committee.

“I joined Cisco 17 years ago because I wanted to be a part of a company where I believed the possibilities were limitless. Today, I am even more convinced that Cisco is that company,” said Robbins in the announcement that he will replace John Chambers as CEO.

“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. The opportunity that lies ahead for Cisco is enormous, and the ability to lead this next chapter is deeply humbling and incredibly exhilarating. I am focused on accelerating the innovation and execution that our customers need from us. Their success will continue to drive 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 honored to lead this great company.”

The search for a new CEO began in January of 2014 and was based on “five key principles to guide our approach and decisions,” Cisco’s search leaders wrote.

Those principles:

  • Execute a transition that is thorough, strategic, well managed and, in hindsight, highly successful.
  • Establish clear criteria that will define a successful CEO for the next decade and beyond.
  • Assess and develop the leaders who will play key roles during the CEO transition and beyond.
  • Lead a highly confidential process that minimizes the distractions to the business and is fair and respectful to all candidates.
  • Given the speed of disruption in our industry, select a candidate who can both execute in the short term as well as drive a dynamic vision and strategy for the next decade.

Rod McGeary, Cisco Board Member and Chair, Cisco’s Compensation and Management Development Committee, explained the final selection process:

“The board debriefed on the process, the interviews, the internal candidate presentations, and the external candidates. Despite the diverse backgrounds of our board members, there was an incredible and almost surprising alignment and understanding of each candidate.

“Our straw vote, which was conducted by secret ballot to test initial sentiment before more formal discussion, was unanimous in our view of the strongest internal candidate. Over the following weeks, we benchmarked once again with our top internal and external candidates and concluded, again with unanimity, that we had the right candidate within Cisco. The board voted on Friday, May 1, to select Chuck Robbins as the next CEO. Chuck embodies all the characteristics and traits we had outlined initially for the ideal Cisco CEO. Taken together, his authentic leadership, cultural fit, technical acumen, and vision for Cisco, set Chuck apart from the balance of the candidates, both externally and internally.”

Chuck Robbins: Official Bio

CEO-Designate & Senior Vice President, Worldwide Field Operations Cisco

On May 1, 2015, Chuck Robbins was elected Chief Executive Officer by Cisco’s Board of Directors effective July 26, 2015. He became a member of the Board effective May 1, 2015.

In his previous role as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Field Operations for Cisco, Chuck Robbins has led the company’s Worldwide Sales Organization and Worldwide Partner Organization. As a member of the Operating Committee, he has helped drive and execute many of the company’s investment areas and strategy shifts. He has also sponsored the security and collaboration businesses at the executive level and was a key sponsor for the Sourcefire and Meraki acquisitions.

Robbins has more than 20 years of leadership experience. Prior to his current role, he was Senior Vice President of The Americas, Cisco’s largest geographic region, where he led more than 8,500 employees in the United States, Canada, and Latin America.

Prior to leading The Americas, Robbins was Senior Vice President of U.S. Enterprise, Commercial and Canada, and from 2007 to 2009, where he led the U.S. Commercial sales organization, one of the largest growth segments in the company.

From 2003 to 2007, Robbins led the U.S. and Canada channel organization, where he was instrumental in helping build the industry’s most powerful partner program, now worth more than $40B in revenue to the company each year. He was recognized in CRN Magazine as one of the top Channel Chiefs in 2008, and VARBusiness named him one of the Top 100 Channel Executives in both 2005 and 2006.

Robbins joined Cisco in 1997 as an account manager and quickly advanced to the roles of regional manager and operations director. Prior to joining Cisco, he held management positions at Bay Networks and Ascend Communications.

Outside of Cisco, Robbins serves on the board for the MS Society of Northern California, and the Georgia Tech Advisory Board for the President of Georgia Tech.

Robbins holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a computer science concentration from the University of North Carolina.