Cisco Systems Inc. announced on Monday that the company’s Executive Chairman John Chambers would not be seeking re-election after his term expires in December. Company CEO Chuck Robbins will become the chairman, and Chambers will be given the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in December.
Chambers joined the board in 1993, and is ending a tenure of more than 20 years. He was one of the foremost leaders in the industry during his tenure with the company. Under him, Cisco rose to become the world’s most valuable company for a time. He also navigated Cisco through the dot-com burst, the financial crisis, and the emergence of numerous competitors. Under him, Cisco’s annual sales rose from $1.2 billion to nearly $50 billion.
“John’s brilliant mind, compassion and charismatic leadership have helped shape Cisco for over 20 years, and for that we are all grateful,” said Chuck Robbins. “John’s influence on the industry is immense, and he built Cisco around a culture of integrity and innovation that will continue to serve our employees, partners, and customers for decades to come. I have no doubt he will continue to have a lasting impact with his future endeavors.”
“John’s tremendous vision, energy and passion helped Cisco become the great company it is today,” said Carol Bartz, Lead Independent Director from Cisco’s board. “John’s leadership helped bring the Internet to billions of people around the world, enabling them to access information, build connections, sand improve their lives. At the right time, he initiated and brought to fruition a CEO succession process that resulted in the right person, Chuck Robbins, leading the company into the future. We owe John a debt of great gratitude for his extraordinary service to Cisco.”
This change gives the current CEO Robbins more control and operational autonomy. At its annual meeting in December, the board is expected to reduce its size to 11 members, 10 of whom will be independent directors, Cisco said. The company has a mandatory retirement age of 70 for board members.