Optical/IP Networks

Cisco Optical VP Steps Down

Terry Brown, vice president and general manager of the optical networking business unit at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) will be stepping down from his post at the end of the month.

Brown, who reports to Carl Russo, group vice president of optical networking, says he is leaving to take care of his father, who was diagnosed with leukemia last summer.

“My father’s condition has worsened,” he says. “I’ve been talking to Carl about this for awhile, and I just felt I had to do what a good son should do.”

Brown says he and Russo had discussed the possibility of a leave of absence, but he decided that it would be best to step down from his position. “We have a phenomenal business here and an awesome team,” he says. “The team deserves someone who can focus, and right now I wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Brown and Russo started working together in 1997 at Cerent, the metropolitan optical company that Cisco bought for $6.9 billion in 1999. Russo was the chief executive officer and Brown headed up the sales team at the optical startup, which later became the backbone of Cisco’s optical product offering. When Cerent was acquired by Cisco, Brown moved over and became the vice president of sales for the optical line of business. Last spring, he was promoted to vice president and general manager of the optical business unit.

“I’ve worked with Terry a long time,” says Russo. “We’d love for him to stay, but I understand; he’s going through a really rough time now.”

Tom Fallon, who has been vice president of operations for the optical group for the last year, will be taking over for Brown. Prior to coming to the optical group, Fallon had been with Cisco for about 10 years, mostly in operations and manufacturing.

“We’ve been grooming him for the job,” says Russo. “Tom has been like the COO of the optical group, so he’s got a strong suit in executing product plans. We’re really fortunate, we’ve got really good bench strength.”

Shifts in upper management for whatever reason are never viewed as positive, but analysts say Brown’s departure shouldn’t affect Cisco too adversely. The larger questions are about Cisco's long-term optical strategy.

“The broader question remains: what is Cisco’s optical strategy given the write-off of the Monterey line and the relative lack of visibility from the Pirelli product line?,” says Steve Kamman, an analyst with CIBC World Markets.

-- Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

kcufde 12/4/2012 | 8:26:36 PM
re: Cisco Optical VP Steps Down I have a feeling that this VP will go and join some startup , after taking the full benefit of cisco
optical 12/4/2012 | 8:26:34 PM
re: Cisco Optical VP Steps Down the true reason behind any executive leaving cisco is because it is a horrible place to work especially for someone who rode in on the succesful start-up (cerent) wave. After some de-tox from the Cisco culture, i assure you we will see this guy joining another start-up.

Russo will be next. watch and see.
guywires 12/4/2012 | 8:26:12 PM
re: Cisco Optical VP Steps Down Cisco is NOT a horrible place to work. I worked there for 20 short months. They took very good care of me. And even though I got laid off, I still feel the same way.

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