New Cisco CEO: Meet the real Chuck Robbins

Cisco’s choice of Chuck Robbins, Senior VP of Worldwide Field Operations, as the company’s next CEO came as a surprise given that two Cisco presidents were seen as frontrunners for the job.

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New man in charge

Cisco’s choice of Chuck Robbins, Senior VP of Worldwide Field Operations, as the company’s next CEO came as a surprise given that two Cisco presidents were seen as frontrunners for the job. But a look at the 49-year-old Robbins’ background might explain why he is being given the reins of this $47 billion networking company. He’s not just a sales guy…

Rocky Mount High
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Rocky Mount High

Robbins was educated in North Carolina, graduating from Rocky Mount High School, whose other notable alumni include former North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley and ex-NBA player Phil Ford. He earned his B.S. in Mathematical Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1987.

North Carolina National Bank
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Apps builder

Robbins started his career as an application developer for North Carolina National Bank, now better known as Bank of America. He worked for the bank for five years.

Wellfleet

Selling at Wellfleet

Next up for Robbins was a sales job in the early/mid 1990s at Cisco router rival Wellfleet Communications, a company that merged with SynOptics in a $2.7 billion deal to form Bay Networks to better compete vs. Cisco. Robbins had a brief stint at Ascend Communications before moving on to Cisco in 1997.

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Sales at Cisco

Robbins hasn’t stayed stagnant at Cisco, racking up a bunch of titles, from account manager to regional manager to operations director to VP to SVP Americas to SVP Worldwide.

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A Rah-Rah guy

You can get a little glimpse of Robbins’ personality via his Twitter account @ChuckRobbins. It’s most rah-rah sales stuff with LOTS of !!!! and some UNC Tarheels support thrown in. But he does show a sense of humor, too, such as when his daughter got her driver’s license.

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Outside interests

Outside of Cisco, Robbins serves on the board for the MS Society of Northern California, and the Georgia Tech Advisory Board for the President of Georgia Tech.

Chuck Robbins

Taking over for Chambers

Cisco says the time is right for Robbins to succeed Chambers in July, 2015. Robbins, for one, embraces changed, as he says on his LinkedIn profile: “I absolutely love change, and when things are dynamic and moving fast, I am most energized. I believe in acting boldly to accelerate things that are working and change those that are not. I am at my best leading teams of inspired people to drive tremendous results and make the world a better place.”