EVP Patel leaving Cisco

19-year vet, head of company's 26,000 engineers, departing second half of 2016

Pankaj Patel, Cisco executive vice president and chief development officer, and a 19-year veteran of the company, is leaving in the second half of the year.

Pankaj Patel

Patel oversees Cisco’s 26,000 engineers. He came to the company during the 1996 StrataCom acquisition and recently was heralded by CEO Chuck Robbins for an engineering reorganization designed to streamline product development and delivery to customers.

“Pankaj Patel has served Cisco over the past 19 years, and is one of the most passionate and selfless leaders I know,” CEO Robbins said in an internal memo forwarded to Network World. “He has fearlessly led our 26,000+ strong Engineering organization, helping to build the most innovative engineering engine in the industry.  With everything he does, he thinks of the customer first and always sets out to do the right thing for Cisco and his team.  Today is no different. 

“Pankaj has decided to step down from his role as Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer during the second half of the calendar year. Pankaj believes that in order to best serve the needs of our customers, we must accelerate his vision for our next chapter of engineering.  While this has been an incredibly difficult decision for him, he believes it is the right one for Cisco.”

Patel's replacement has not yet been named.

Sources say Patel’s departure was planned around the time of Robbins’ ascension to CEO in the May/June 2015 timeframe but was postponed because of potential market and PR disruption of a mass exodus of high level executives. Leaving, or tapped to leave, at that time were Presidents Rob Lloyd and Gary Moore, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology and Strategy Officer Padmasree Warrior, and several others.

In a memo to Cisco employees, Patel said he is working with Robbins “to identify next steps.”

From Cisco Spokesman David McCulloch:

Cisco’s Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer, Pankaj Patel has decided to step down from his current role in the second half of 2016. As you know, Pankaj has been with Cisco for 19 years and he’s known for his passion as a leader of 26,000+ people, and the innovation he has fostered on behalf of our customers and partners. Although we have no immediate changes to announce in terms of succession, Pankaj will work with CEO Chuck Robbins to effect a smooth transition and ensure Cisco’s engineering team remains the industry’s best.

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