John Chambers, longtime chair at tech giant Cisco, is retiring when his current terms ends in December. Replacing him will be Chuck Robbins, a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate who replaced Chambers as CEO in July 2015.
Cisco, which operates one of its largest corporate campuses in RTP, announced the changes Monday.
“John’s brilliant mind, compassion and charismatic leadership have helped shape Cisco for over 20 years, and for that we are all grateful,” Robbins said in a statement.
“John’s 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. I have no doubt he will continue to have a lasting impact with his future endeavors.”
Chambers has been a Cisco board member since 1993.
The change means even more power for Robbins, who has been reorganizing Cisco at multiple levels and in its product suite, over the past two years.
“The change gives Robbins more complete control to steer Cisco, the biggest maker of equipment that forms the backbone of the internet, away from its reliance on the high-priced hardware, which provides most of its revenue,” reports Bloomberg.
“Under Chambers, who served as CEO of the company from 1995 until 2015, those products helped raise Cisco’s annual sales from $1.2 billion to nearly $50 billion. That surge stalled as the networking industry changed, and Cisco hasn’t had a double-digit percentage year of revenue expansion — typical under Chambers’s early leadership — since 2010.”
Chambers will receive the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus. He served as CEO from January 1995 to July 26, 2015. He went to work for Cisco in 1991 as head of sales.
“John’s tremendous vision, energy and passion helped Cisco become the great company it is today,” said Carol Bartz, lead independent director for Cisco’s board. “John’s 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. We owe John a debt of great gratitude for his extraordinary service to Cisco.”
Robbins has worked 19 years from Cisco, including as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Field Operations for Cisco, where he led the Worldwide Sales and Partner Organizations; Senior Vice President of The Americas; Senior Vice President of U.S. Enterprise, Commercial and Canada; Senior Vice President of U.S. Commercial Sales; and Segment Vice President, U.S. and Canada channel organization.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a computer science concentration from UNC-CH.