And he’s already being assigned tasks to fill those hours. Chambers’ new job was one of a few topics that he and incoming CEO Chuck Robbins discussed during a media session Tuesday at Cisco Live in San Diego.
“Because security is such a critical enabler for our customers and for this next wave of the Internet, I actually asked John if he’d be the executive sponsor for our security business inside Cisco,” helping the team develop its strategy, Robbins said.
Related: Cisco’s Newest Network Security Product Is the Entire Network
Chambers will also continue being a conduit to international leaders. The digitization of countries has been a hot button for him in recent years, and he’ll continue to spearhead that work for Cisco.
Chambers is encouraged by Europe’s eagerness to digitize — bringing smart cities and Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies to life. But the one country he’s most bullish on appears to be India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I said literally a year ago, at the time of the election, and my views are not changed at all: If I had to bet on any one market, it’d be India. And we have doubled down.”
In his spare time, Chambers wants to spend time on the usual post-resignation things — grandkids, golf, and fishing — and possibly join the boards of a couple of startups. He also mentioned “spending time talking at universities talking to students, because they do make you think.”
And he wants to fly helicopters for fun.
‘Can You Commit?’
Many of Cisco’s senior executives will leave the company once Chambers retires, including Rob Lloyd, who was the favorite to get the CEO job, and CTO Padmasree Warrior. Naturally, the question of how all this transpired came up.
Robbins described it as a set of mutual decisions.
“One of the key things I asked all of them is: Can you commit? Are you in for three to five years? And there are a few of those who have different aspirations,” Robbins said.
During the Cisco Live keynote on Monday, Robbins seemed to imply that the changes were made in order to create a flatter organization, but the cause-and-effect actually ran the other way. “It ended up we eliminated a layer of the organization,” he said, possibly referring to the pending departures of Lloyd and COO Gary Moore, Cisco’s two presidents. An organization with fewer layers should inherently move faster, Robbins believes.
To the outside world, it seemed like the executive departures were announced abruptly. That was intentional, Robbins said. The company wanted to announce the changes quickly, “as opposed to just allowing it to permeate unnaturally” through the media, he said.