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Cisco may be bouncing back, but can Chambers hold on?

Stephen Lawson | May 15, 2014
John Chambers may stay chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems for the time being, but with the company's financial results just beginning to emerge from a slump and major challenges remaining, it won't be an easy time to hold onto one of the longest leadership stints in the IT industry.

Chambers has also shared lists of possible candidates to take his place. One of those, Rob Lloyd, president of development and sales, will give the keynote address on the company's "technology business vision" at next week's Cisco Live conference in San Francisco. Chambers will appear the afternoon before in a welcome address and "business vision" keynote. That prominent spot suggests Cisco is setting up Lloyd as a successor, but the picture could change again before Chambers makes a move.

It's not clear who at Cisco, including Lloyd, could fill Chambers' shoes, some analysts said. Chambers maintains a high profile in the industry, has advised the president of the U.S. and has access to world leaders, said Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research.

"You'd be hard-pressed to find another person inside or outside Cisco who can do that and run a tech company," Kerravala said. He doesn't think Chambers is under pressure within the company to step down.

Doyle thinks there are good reasons for a new leader to take the reins at Cisco, including the need to reinvent the company around software and services and focus on making its networks easier to use. But he doesn't expect Cisco or Chambers to take that step any time soon.

"I'll bet you that he's going to be CEO for quite a while, barring some unexpected huge drop in their stock or financial output," Doyle said.


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