Report: Cisco's top woman engineer, CTO Padmasree Warrior is out, too

Padmasree Warrior, Cisco CiscoPadmasree Warrior

The top executive heads just keep rolling as Cisco prepares to have its first new CEO in 20 years, Chuck Robbins.

Word is that Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s CTO and Strategy Officer, will be leaving, too, when Chuck Robbins officially takes over at the end of July, sources have told Re/Code’s Arik Hesseldahl.

Cisco today confirmed that two other executives have resigned: COO Gary Moore and president Rob Lloyd, both were considered the front-runners to become the next CEO when Chambers retired. And we expect to hear about more departures as Robbins puts his own brain-trust in place.

Warrior had a mixed reputation at Cisco and within its bigger eco-systems.

On the plus side, she’s smart, articulate, good with customers and was a well-known name and face associated with the company. She was often front and center on stage at the company’s annual customer conference, Cisco Live, demonstrating new technology. And she’s been an advisor and mentor to startups, particularly startups founded by women.

On the downside, she didn’t garner a lot of internal respect as an engineering leader, which is the unit she was originally hired to run, many people close to the company have told us. She joined Cisco in 2008, from a gig as CTO at Motorola.

At first she co-shared the role of head of engineering with Pankaj Patel, back in the days when outgoing CEO John Chambers organised the company via executive councils, where units were lead by multiple leaders.

But when Cisco started its massive multi-year reorganization a few years ago, Warrior was out of that role, and Patel became the sole leader of the engineering unit. Cisco engineers are the company’s lifeblood and represent 35% of its 70,000 workforce.

Warrior became the chief strategy officer, a role that was held by others right before they left the company.

It’s hard to point to a single successful engineering project at Cisco which Warrior led, although in her strategy role, we understand that she was a major force within Cisco’s all-important acquisition strategy.

She was rumoured to be on her way out in January, though Cisco told Business Insider at that time that the rumour was not true.

Cisco won’t comment on if Warrior is out. However, Robbins says he’ll announce a new leadership team within the next two weeks and that more heads will roll as he “will move to a flatter leadership team.”

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