Cisco names Chuck Robbins as CEO; John Chambers to become executive chairman

John Chambers will step down from Cisco (CSCO) after 20 years at the helm. The company announced on Monday that Chuck Robbins, its senior vice president of worldwide field operations, will step into the company’s top job effective July 26, 2015.

In a blog post, board members Roderick McGeary and Francine Katsoudas said the search to replace John Chambers, who will become executive chairman, took 16 months.

“Chuck will both accelerate what makes Cisco an undeniably great company and also drive the transformation to carry the company to a whole new level,” they wrote. “Chuck has the full confidence and trust of the Cisco Board as we enter this next chapter.”

In a statement, Chambers cited Robbins’ familiarity with “every Cisco segment, technology area, and geography” as one reason why he’s suited to the job:

We’ve selected a very strong leader at a time when Cisco is in a very strong position. Today’s pace of change is exponential. Every company, city and country is becoming digital, navigating disruptive markets, and Cisco’s role in the digital transformation has never been more important. Our next CEO needs to thrive in a highly dynamic environment, to be capable of accelerating what is working very well for Cisco, and disrupting what needs to change. Chuck is unique in his ability to translate vision and strategy into world-class execution, bringing together teams and ecosystems to drive results.

Robbins joined Cisco in 1997. In his most recent role, he was responsible for the company’s global sales and partner team, which Cisco says drives $47 billion in business. He is credited with executing the company’s partner program and establishing a strategy for its commercial business segment, which now represents 25% of Cisco’s business. He was also a sponsor for Cisco’s acquisition of Sourcefire and Meraki.

As for Chambers, who has enjoyed one of the longest tenures as CEO in the technology industry (if not the entire Fortune 500), he will devote his time to “supporting Robbins and engaging closely with customers and governments around the world, with a focus on leading Cisco’s role in country digitization,” Cisco said. In September 2014, Fortune published a story about Chambers’ impact on the industry.

In the wake of the news, the company shared the following video of Chambers and Robbins discussing leadership:


Fortune‘s Susie Gharib interviewed Chambers about leadership transitions in March.

Here’s that video:

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