John Chambers and the Rise of Cisco Systems

On this day, August 23 in the year 1949, one of the most influential business executives in the modern era was born in Ohio, United States. His name is John Chambers, the man responsible for the growth of Cisco Systems to become the biggest networking company in the world.

John Chambers
John Chambers (Credit:

John Chambers was the son of a physician and a psychologist. As a boy, he suffered from dyslexia. He went to Duke University to study engineering but transferred to West Virginia University where he finished a degree in business (1971) and in law (1974). He went on to get his MBA from Indiana University in 1975.

At age 27, he started his career with IBM as a salesman. After 7 years, he joined Wang Laboratories as vice-president for US operations. In 1991, he moved to Cisco Systems as senior vice-president for worldwide sales and operations. He was appointed as CEO in 1995 and as chairman of the board in 2006. In 2015, he stepped down as CEO but remained as executive chairman of the company.

When John took over as CEO, Cisco was making $1.2 billion in annual revenues. In 2019, the company registered sales of over $51.9 billion. Also, the company had a market capitalization of $14.8 billion and in 2000, it became the largest company in terms of market value with a $500 billion capitalization. It has since gone down and its value was at $178 billion as of August 23, 2020.

John Chambers was listed as one of 2008 Time magazine’s 100 most influential persons in the world. In 2015, he was honored as one of the 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World by Harvard Business Review.

John is married and has two children.


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