Incoming Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins is wasting no time showing the world that he’s going to grab Cisco by the horns and make it his own.
As expected, today he announced sweeping changes to the executive ranks, with some big surprises.
These are the names that are out of the new administration:
- Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s CTO and Strategy Officer
- Wim Elfrink, Cisco’s Chief Globalization Officer;
- Edzard Overbeek, Senior Vice President of Cisco Services;
These are the names that will lead the new administration:
Hilton Romanski is taking over Warrior’s role as CTO and strategy officer. Romanski was working as Cisco’s deal-maker responsible for some of Cisco’s biggest, most strategic purchases, such as Sourcefire, Meraki, and Airespace.
Ruba Borno is a new hire from The Boston Consulting Group.
She will become VP, Growth Initiatives and Chief of Staff. Borno holds a Ph.D in electrical engineering and has been an Intel fellow at the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. So she’s got game in the kind of tech Cisco builds.
It looks like Borno’s role will be to serve as Robbins’ consultant on how to manage and possibly re-organise Cisco’s massive 70,000-strong employees, and be someone who came from outside the John Chambers era.
Pankaj Patel has been confirmed as the leader of Cisco’s enormous 25,000-person engineering team.
Cisco just spent two-years changing up its engineering under Patel, culminating in a massive re-org last fall, designed to eliminate product fiefdoms and to create groups that are supposed to work together. It would have been risky for Robbins to have cut Patel at this juncture.
Rebecca Jacoby has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Operations.
Jacoby was formerly CIO meaning she ran all of Cisco’s internal IT. She is very well-known and well-liked in the industry at large, frequently on the speaker circuit. Guillermo Diaz has been named the new CIO reporting to her. In addition to running IT, she’s running operations and supply chain.
Chris Dedicoat is taking over Robbins’ old role as head of worldwide sales, as previously announced. He was running European sales under Robbins, so Robbins knows him well.
Joe Cozzolino, senior vice president, services. He was previously running Cisco’s Service Provider Video Infrastructure Group, a critical unit of potential growth as service providers spend millions to upgrade their networks to handle the world’s YouTubes, Netflix and Facebook videos. But there are a bunch of new, competing technologies to help them do so, so this unit had been hit-and-miss on sales and growth.
Francine Katsoudas will continue running HR.
Karen Walker will continue running marketing.
Mark Chandler will continue to be Cisco’s top lawyer.
Kelly Kramer will stay as CFO. She took over last fall replacing 10-year CFO Frank Calderoni at the height of Cisco’s multi-year internal reorganization.
The biggest name on the out list is Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s CTO and Strategy Officer. She is well-known and well-liked outside the company as a visionary, and known inside the company for pushing innovation.
We expect headhunters are pounding down her door right now. We wouldn’t be surprised to see her land a CEO role somewhere else.
Wim Elfrink is known for opening the global headquarters in Bangalore, India and he helped Cisco establish a new unit to take on the Internet of Things, which is Cisco’s Next Big Thing. But he wasn’t that unit’s leader. That’s the job of Cisco Rob Soderbery.
Edzard Overbeek has been at Cisco for 15 years, most recently running Services. Prior to that he was running Cisco’s Asia Pacific sales, and was Robbins counterpart and, perhaps, internal rival in the company’s sales world. Overbeek’s career rose under Chambers and now Cisco is Robbins’ baby.
Cost cutting versus strategy
Cisco has mostly grown through acquisitions over the past decade, which does tend to create a messy organisation of people and business units that still “belong” to the companies that were bought.
Robbins has repeatedly said that he wants to get Cisco’s sprawling 75,000 employees and 18 different product categories into a leaner, meaner machine.
His new team is full of leaders that have cut costs, as opposed to leaders known for their vision.
We wouldn’t be shocked to learn that Robbins first acts as CEO will be to weed out some of those underperforming products and cleaning out some of those teams.
Now everyone is waiting to hear if Robbins will institute more cost cutting, including layoffs. Cisco has had annual layoffs for the past four years.
But he can’t just cut his way to a vibrant company.
The company’s bread-and-butter networking industry is under attack as new software makes networks cheaper to build and run. He’s got to start articulating how Cisco will survive this trend, and what the new Cisco will become.