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Reorg fallout downplayed by Cisco engineering exec

High level turnover expected when company embarked on customer focused product development "transformation"

The engineering reorganization currently underway at Cisco is intended to streamline product development and delivery to customers, Cisco says.

That it is prompting some high profile departures is an expected byproduct of any realignment of this size, which affects 25,000 employees, says Cisco Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer Pankaj Patel, who is conducting the transformation.

Pankaj Patel

Pankaj Patel

“People leave for personal business reasons,” Patel said in an interview with Network World this week. “Similar transformations” among Cisco peers and customers “see personnel change of 30% to 50%.”

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The recent exodus of high- and mid-level executives from Cisco is not only the result of the company’s previously disclosed 8% workforce reduction, but also of frustration with the annual restructurings, realignments and resets Cisco has undergone over the past four or five years. The 6,000 layoffs announced in August come after an almost 20,000 reduction in headcount since 2009 as Cisco annually “transforms” itself to streamline operations on high-growth market segments like cloud, mobility, data center, security, and the Internet of Everything.

But this most recent transformation in engineering is notable for the departure of several high-ranking or visible officials within weeks of each other. Sources say it’s essentially detached engineering from product management and marketing, leading to uncertain accountability for a solution developed and delivered to a customer.

Not so, says Patel. If anything, it’s eliminated silos of autonomous development within Cisco’s business units and created a more efficient process for customer solution development and delivery. And it began more than 15 months ago

“This is about preparing engineering for the development environment of the future,” Patel says, “with a streamlined go-to-market to create our focus on product (synergies). Our customers are demanding us to change and how they work with us.”

Cisco has taken separate business units responsible for specific areas of base-level hardware and software development and combined them into two groups: core hardware, including routing and switching ASICs and optics, under Senior Vice President and General Manager Ravikrishna Cherukuri; and core software – embedded

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