Keep Skating to Where the Puck is Going, Not Where it is
As you may have heard by now, I have decided to leave Cisco at the end of July to begin the next chapter in my career.
After nearly 21 years of riding this rocket ship called Cisco, my mind is filled with the amazing experiences I have had around the world with colleagues, business partners and customers. Together, we have harnessed the incredible power of the Internet to change the world.
I have had so many memorable and proud moments during these past two decades thanks to the opportunities that Cisco presented to me and to my family. So humor me here, and join me, while I reflect back on just a few of them. To all of you who were part of these, I hope you realize how much I appreciate your friendship.
The fun all started when I joined Cisco Canada in the fall of 1994 as President and General Manager. I inherited a small team of 40, with lots of open headcount requisitions, and was quickly amazed at how this powerful small team effectively served customers as the convergence to IP accelerated. I remember the closed-door meetings talking about “Project Symphony”, the program that led to the introduction of the Catalyst 5000. Following several acquisitions of Ethernet switching companies, Cisco established the switching juggernaut that it has maintained for almost two decades. We also acquired Stratacom, which provided us with some much needed “carrier chops” and helped us become the market leader in the IP-centric service provider market we all recognize today.
When I moved to the UK to join the EMEA team in 1998, I had the opportunity to work in many organizations across Cisco; in the channel, in sales operations and in our enterprise, commercial and SP marketing organizations. I remember the introduction of Cisco’s IP telephony and the funny little white Celsius phones that caused so many people to cast doubt on our ability to disrupt enterprise communications. Four billion dollars a year later, and the now the market leader, it doesn’t seem quite so funny! I assumed the EMEA leadership role in early 2001, right as the dotcom meltdown began. Our entire team embraced the concept of “Dual Citizenship” as we created a new matrix sales model and within four years, EMEA sales grew from 26% to 33% of total Cisco product revenues.
I realize now how much I was personally enriched during this time in my career thanks to the diversity of the region, its warm and welcoming people and the life shaping experiences they provided for my family.
When I moved to Cisco’s Corporate Office in 2005, I had the opportunity to lead the powerhouse US and Canada sales and partner organization. In that role, I oversaw the introduction of the UCS server and Nexus Top of Rack switching family. I remember challenging an internal Cisco gathering to “darken the skies with the Nexus 5K”. We disrupted the industry and today, UCS and our Data Center portfolio are major drivers of Cisco’s growth. A few years later, I assumed the role leading world-wide sales and had the chance to experience, first hand, the amazing opportunities and cultural riches that ASIA and Latin America had to offer.
It was when I was named President of Development, Sales and IOE in 2012, that I realized how big of an opportunity Cisco had to be THE market leader in the era of Application Centric Infrastructure, Cloud and the Internet of Everything. I applaud Pankaj Patel and his leadership team for their courage in transforming our massive engineering organization to position Cisco to better capture the opportunities that lie ahead. I feel that Cisco is very well positioned to lead yet again in the world of Software Defined Networking and Network Function Virtualization as we begin to monetize our vast software assets in new and exciting ways. And our passionate Intercloud team has created a vision for business cloud services that will re-define the next generation of the cloud enabled Internet.
I have loved the way Cisco competes. Anytime we readied the troops for yet another battle with a “pre tussle hockey glare”, this company has always competed with both intensity and integrity.
In short – and to paraphrase one of my hockey idols Wayne Gretzky – together we have learned how to skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is, or where we want it to be, and we’ve developed the next generation of Cisco talent to lead the company through that transition.
I also want give a special thanks to my tireless right hand, Vicki Rose, who is always friendly, easy to work with and maintains a sense of calm on the surface while the ocean often boils beneath. Her professionalism has served our company and me so well for almost a decade.
Last, but not least, I’m very pleased that Chuck Robbins, who I’ve had the pleasure to work with for more than a decade, is taking over as CEO as I depart. He’s an incredible leader and the entire Cisco family can count on him to accelerate this exciting journey. I can only hope that you all have as much fun in your journey as I have had in mine.
I wish the entire Cisco leadership team and the global Cisco family well, and I would like to thank every Cisco employee who contributed to such an exceptional period of my life.