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Outgoing Cisco CEO Chambers fesses up to mistakes, touts company's grit

Jim Duffy | June 11, 2015
Joins incoming Cisco CEO Robbins for wide-ranging Q&A with the press at Cisco Live.

"As a company, we've come through this as we've always done. We are not perfect but we are always transparent. And I think we've always encouraged countries where business is to make changes when it's necessary for the economic strength of the world. If the next generation Internet is five to 10 times what the value of the Internet is today, it becomes even more important for countries around the world to come up with guidelines, and rules of policy and rules of the road as we move forward. That position has not changed.

"I found countries around the world listen very well, including ours here in the US, and that is true at all levels."

The industry might be listening for more rumblings in the executive ranks of Cisco, which saw five top-level managers become lame ducks in a span of three days last week as Robbins introduced his team. Robbins says those waiting for more upheaval will be disappointed.

"Don't expect there's another something coming next week or the week after or the week after," he said. "We've got a lot of tremendous innovation inside the company with some tremendous leaders, and we've got a couple of areas where we're doing some external searches for some talent and the combination of that will be what we have going forward. We got this behind us and I don't want anybody thinking that wait til next Monday to see if there's something else coming."

He did, however, shed more light on the process by which some executives were removed.

"One of the key things that I asked of all of them is, Can you commit for three to five years?'" Robbins said. "There are a few of those who have different aspirations, obviously. We made the decision together based on where they wanted to go and what I needed from a commitment perspective that they would do something else. We eliminated a layer in the organization. Over time, flatter organizations can move faster.

"Once we were clear on what we wanted to do we felt it was fair to those individuals as well as fair to all of you and our teams to go ahead and just state it as opposed to allowing it to just permeate unnaturally," Robbins said. "We're moving forward at this point."

Asked why Cisco is looking externally to fill some vacancies the company previously noted it is looking outside for talent in security, mobility, data center, Internet of Everything and cloud Robbins said:

"Some really wise person said, 95% of the smartest people don't work for us. The right way to build leadership teams is a combination of people from the inside who really know what's going on and bringing in external expertise from things that are happening in the marketplace. That's the strategy, that's why we're doing it."


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