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New Cisco Leadership Favors Diversity

More participation from women on a smaller executive team.

Mitch Wagner

June 4, 2015

4 Min Read
New Cisco Leadership Favors Diversity

Incoming Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins named his new executive leadership team on Thursday, with a focus on female involvement, youth and diversity. With the new leadership, three more top executives went out the door.

The appointments include positions in engineering, operations, technology and strategy, and are laid out in a blog post by Robbins and a statement from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). (See Incoming Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins Unveils New Executive Leadership Team.)

Among the goals are to bring "diverse perspectives and experiences" to Cisco leadership, Robbins says. Some of the new team are longtime veterans, others joined in the last three years, and others are fresh recruits.

Included in the leadership team are:

Pankaj Patel, executive vice president and chief development officer. Patel recently lead reorganization of Cisco's entire, massive engineering organization to focus on collaboration and end silos. (See Troubled Cisco Looks to 'Bust Silos' .)

Rebecca Jacoby, formerly chief information technology officer, now senior VP operations. She adds the global supply chain, business services, security and trust and IT to her responsibilities.

Hilton Romanski, senior vice president, chief technology and strategy officer. He was previously head of Cisco's mergers and acquisitions. That seems like an odd pick at first -- isn't mergers and acquisitions largely about the law and accounting? Why move someone with that background into a strategic position requiring deep technology knowledge? But for an organization like Cisco, mergers and acquisitions are all about technology and strategy. So the move might well work well.

Romanski's role was previously filled by Padmasree Warrior. Cisco confirmed reports from earlier this week that Warrior is leaving the company. Or, more precisely, Cisco said she's remaining in an advisory capacity. (See Cisco CTO Warrior Is Out Too – Report.)

Other members of the new team include Karen Walker, senior VP, chief marketing officer; Chris Dedicoat, senior VP, worldwide sales; and Joe Cozzolino, senior VP, services.

Among the departures: Edzard Overbeek, senior VP of services, is leaving -- or, rather, like Warrior, staying in an advisory capacity. Overbeek, along with presidents Rob Lloyd and Gary Moore, were named by departing Cisco CEO John Chambers as potential successors in 2012 when Chambers announced a two- to four-year plan to retire. (See John Chambers IDs Potential Successors.)

Lloyd and Moore announced this week they plan to leave Cisco. (See 2 Cisco Presidents Quit.)

And Wim Elfrink, Cisco exeucutive vice president for industry solutions and chief globalization officer, will retire effective July 25 -- the day before Robbins officially takes charge.

Robbins is "favoring diversity and youth as he tries to sell Cisco to a new generation of customers," writes Ron Miller at TechCrunch.

The youngest new leader is Ruba Borno, 34, hired as VP of growth initiatives and chief of staff, coming from Boston Consulting group, TechCrunch writes.

Women in technology can connect with their peers at the Light Reading Women in Tech Breakfast on Wednesday. It's part of Light Reading's second Big Telecom Event on June 9-10 in Chicago. Get yourself registered today or get left behind!

The new leadership team is smaller than previous, down from 13 members, with five women, Don Clark reports on the Wall Street Journal. Robbins wants a "flatter organizational structure that could make decisions more quickly," Clark says.

It's been a busy week for Cisco. In addition to top executive changes, Cisco also bought Piston Cloud Computing to beef up its OpenStack strategy. (See Cisco, IBM Make OpenStack Acquisitions.)

And Cisco added to its Evolved Services Platform (ESP) with a new service provisioning and management tool encompassing multiple network types, vendors and physical and virtualized infrastructure. (See Cisco Adds Service Management Tool to ESP.)

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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