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New Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins heads into "hyper-connected" mode

John Gallant | July 27, 2015
Robbins takes over at Cisco for John Chambers this Monday, promoting a hyper-connected architecture in the face of competition from white box makers and SDN proponents.

As we're driving toward a hyper-converged data center, doesn't that speak to the need to own storage more directly?

Oh, no. We actually invented converged infrastructure with EMC, VCE and Cisco and we didn't have to own it, and it's been wildly successful.

Okay. So I'm going to shift gears. Two things. What are you going to do on day one?

The first thing we're going to do is have an all-hands meeting with everybody in the company with my new leadership team and we're going to allow them to ask any question they'd like to ask. That'll happen in the morning. Then we're going to have a celebration with our teams in the afternoon, where we're going to celebrate what John has accomplished here over the last 20 years, because he's done amazing things for the Valley, for technology and, I think, for society and the world in general. He deserves to be celebrated.

On a more personal note, what's one thing that people don't generally know about you but would help them understand you better?

I have a mathematical sciences degree with a concentration in computer science. At my core, I'm a geek. I don't know if you could tell, but I do get excited about the technology even though I'm not as deep in it as I used to be. And, to that end, around here, I'm known for the numbers. I always know the numbers and anybody that engages with me will know that they better know the numbers as well. But I think the thing that I've learned about myself recently is that all your experience and your ability to process data and consume all those numbers actually leads you to have an incredible instinct. My instinct is built off my experience, as well as my ability to process the data. But I think that the whole data and analysis piece is something that I really believe in and is core of what makes me who I am.

What drives you on a personal level? I do have a LinkedIn quote from you, "I absolutely love change. When things are dynamic and moving fast, I'm most energized."

It's the truth. I have four kids and a great family and we have a great time, and I love having watched my kids grow. They're all different and they all look at things differently, and I'm energized by that. But I love leading teams. I love motivating and inspiring people. Every two months we do this simple thing called a "birthday chat." Anybody who's had a birthday in those two months, we do an hour of just open Q&A in the company. What is it that you want to ask? John and I have done the last two together and we did his last one with me this morning, and we had the greatest time. We laughed, everybody had a good time. The big thing for me is that it's critically important, given the pressure, the pace, the complexity, that we all have fun. That is the core of who I am. I want my entire team around me to be committed to working really hard, but having a great time at it.


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