John Chambers’ illustrious career: A look back
John Thomas Chambers has announced his retirement as Cisco's executive chairman in the coming December. Here, we look at the major career milestones in his journey through the tech world.
1976: Soon after finishing his MBA from Indiana University, Chambers joined IBM in 1976 as a trainee salesman. At IBM, he sold the flagship mainframe systems across various cities in America. In 1982, Chambers decided to leave IBM after six years of sales work.
1983: Leaving IBM, John Chambers moved to Wang Laboratories. His new company was an old-line minicomputer organization founded by Dr. An Wang, one of the pioneers of the early computer industry. Chambers worked at Wang Labs for eight years, first as vice president of the company's central US operations, and later as senior vice president of its Americas/Asia Pacific operations.
1991: Chambers moved away from Wang Labs and joined Cisco as senior vice president of its worldwide sales and operations in 1991, a year following Cisco’s initial public offering.
1995: Chambers climbed the corporate ranks to become Cisco’s CEO in 1995. The 20 year-tenure of Chambers as Cisco's CEO helped transform the company into one of the major IT organizations of the world. Under his leadership, Cisco’s annual revenue jumped from USD 70 million when he joined, to USD 1.2 billion when he took over as CEO, to USD 47 billion in 2015 when he stepped down as CEO. In 2000, for a short while, Cisco became the world's most valuable company according to market capitalization.
2006: In addition to his role as CEO, Chambers was also elected as the chairman of the board of directors at Cisco. He served as both chairman and CEO from 2006 to 2015 until his retirement from the position of chief executive officer.
2015: In 2015, Chambers announced his stepping down from the helm of Cisco’s operations. A 17-year Cisco veteran Chuck Robbins was asked to become the company’s new chief operating officer. Chambers continued to serve as the executive chairman of the board.
2017: In September 2017, Chambers announced that he would not stand for re-election to the company's board of directors after his term expires in December 2017. This would bring an end to his 24-year board membership at Cisco, which first started in 1993.