Who's on deck to replace Cisco's Chambers?

Fortune this week asks, Who's on Deck in Tech? The story focuses on the lack of a transition plan among top management at major tech companies, including Cisco. 

Few of the biggest names in tech, from Cisco to IBM to Oracle, have clear-cut heirs to their CEOs; most don't even have publicly designated second-in-command executives who would be ready to take over should their chiefs fall ill or resign unexpectedly. Indeed, none of the big tech companies we contacted would comment for this story.

Cisco in recent years saw a handful of high profile executives walk out the door, a few of whom were considered clear No. 2s to CEO John Chambers: Don Listwin, Charlie Giancarlo, Mike Volpi, and most recently Rick Justice, who left Cisco to focus on his cancer treatment. Cisco has never confirmed that these officials would assume the CEO post once Chambers stepped down, aside or was absent for any other reason; and Cisco has never publicly divulged a succession plan should Chambers vacate the top spot. And aside from Justice, these executives never confirmed that they became impatient waiting to take the reins from Chambers even though it was widely believed to be the case.

Should companies have to disclose a succession plan for investors or regulators or customers or employees? Would it help maintain confidence in that company? Does it matter?

So who is currently the No. 2 to John Chambers? Our money is on Rob Lloyd, a very visible and straight talking sales executive with an impressive global track record who took over for Rick Justice as chief of worldwide operations. He seems cut from the same cloth as Chambers.

Then again, Cisco could be run by a council of executives should Chambers depart. The company has been keen on establishing these councils to oversee various company operations, such as research and development. It's not hard to envision such a setup on the CEO's floor.

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