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New Cisco CEO sending a message

Rapid executive turnover indication of how fast Robbins plans to go

Incoming Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins doesn’t mess around.

Once Robbins was named to succeed outgoing CEO John Chambers on July 26, the dominoes fell quickly. In the span of three days, five high level executives – including Cisco’s two presidents and its popular female CTO – became lame ducks as Robbins named his own management team.

When asked by Chambers during Chambers’ last Cisco Live keynote address this week why the swift turnover at the top layer of executive management, Robbins didn’t mince words.

“It’s important we have a culture of moving quickly, of transparency and authenticity once we knew where we were going to be,” Robbins said. “We want to send a message that we have to move faster on all fronts on every decision we make. We have to move faster.”

Robbins said during the keynote that setting priorities was priority 1 for Cisco when he takes the helm. He wasn’t kidding.

A new CEO preferring to install his own people is to be expected. But the immediacy of the transition was an eye opener, perhaps even for Chambers.

Chambers said he’ll stay out of Robbins’ way.

“One of the key reasons (CEO transitions don’t go well) is because the prior CEO tries to stay acting. That’s not going to happen here at Cisco,” Chambers said.

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