Outgoing Cisco CEO John Chambers didn’t tear up, but he was clearly touched when thousands of the company’s customers and employees stood up and cheered for him.
The standing ovation, which lasted minutes, happened at the end of a fire-and-brimstone keynote speech at the company’s huge annual customer conference that kicked off on Monday in San Diego. It was his last keynote as CEO.
Chambers is retiring on July 26.
Under his tenure, the company grew from $US1.2 billion in revenues to $US47 billion in its fiscal year 2014. Chambers leaves the CEO post at the end of its fiscal 2015. He’s known as a charismatic leader and a tough competitor who is liked and admired by his employees.
The son of two doctors, he is particularly known for reaching out to every employee in Cisco’s 71,000-person workforce who is facing medical difficulties.
“I follow every illness — of every employee, their spouse, children — that’s life-threatening,” he told Business Insider. “It’s about getting a person who has breast cancer into the right doctors, … or getting a secondary opinion, or helping someone who has lost a spouse unexpectedly, talking to the person to see what we can do.”
After the ovation, Chambers hugged incoming CEO Chuck Robbins and quietly gave him these parting words, “Enjoy. Have fun with it.”
Chambers will continue on in the role of executive chairman, so he’s not leaving the company entirely. Still it was an emotional moment