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The Power of the Network to Change the Way We Work, Live, Play, and Learn

09/08/2005 5:00 PM Kirsch Stata
John Chambers, Chairman and CEO, Cisco

Description: John Chambers provides rich evidence of the way Cisco Systems has leveraged its core philosophy into a durable high tech success story. Chambers' basics: catching market transitions; supply an educated workforce capable of teamwork; providing the appropriate infrastructure; and supportive government. If you're in business, working this wisdom into a viable marketplace plan "is like a multidimensional chess game," according to Chambers. Only the paranoid survive, and Cisco's top 10 network IT competitors from a decade ago are gone, he says. A decade ago, Cisco was imagining a future where there would be "access anywhere anytime via any device," so, says Chambers, "we weren't just going to build routers and switches, but went into storage, wireless, and security." Cisco also determined to be driven by the customer, because "if you listen to customers in the right way, they'll tell you what market transitions are going on."

Chambers describes how two Cisco clients suggested 12 years ago that a "new technology called fast Ethernet was the future" for networking _ spurring Cisco's move to acquire, and then dominate that technology. "If we can't be number one or two in an industry segment, we don't enter it," he says. But Chambers sees major stumbling blocks ahead: "We're not providing the educational foundation for innovation" in this country, he says, nor the technological infrastructure. "We're falling behind in research and we need to provide a welcome mat and 'please stay' environment to students from around the world." He warns, "I'm proud to be an American company but my jobs will go wherever the best infrastructure, innovation and supportive government is."

About the Speaker(s): Chambers assumed leadership of Cisco Systems in January 1995, and has grown the company from $1.2 billion in annual revenues to approximately $23.8 billion. In March, 2004, for the second time, Chambers was given the "Best Investor Relations by a CEO" award by Barron's and IR magazines, and in April he received the prestigious "Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship" from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution. Recently, Chambers was also named "The Most Influential CEO" in telecommunications by Institutional Investor magazine and "The Most Influential Person in Communications" by Telecom Magazine. Chambers has served as Vice Chairman of the President George Bush National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC). On this committee, he provides industry experience and leadership to help protect the critical infrastructure of the United States. He served on President Bush's Transition Team, Education Committee, and previously served on President Bill Clinton's Trade Policy Committee. Chambers joined Cisco in 1991 as senior vice president, Worldwide Sales and Operations. Prior to joining Cisco, he spent eight years at Wang Laboratories and six years with IBM. He holds a law degree and a B.S./B.A. in business from West Virginia University. He also received an M.B.A. in finance and management from Indiana University.

Host(s): Vice President Resource Development, Industrial Liaison Program

Tape #: T20207

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

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