John Chambers is Executive Chairman of the Board. In this role, Chambers leads the Board of Directors and provides advice and counsel to the CEO and Cisco leadership on the company's strategy, digital transformation and strategic partnerships. As a working chairman, Chambers is focused on country digitization and building relationships with government and business leaders, shareholders, and board members.
Chambers joined Cisco in 1991 as Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Operations. In 1995, he became President and CEO, a position he held until 2006, when he was appointed Chairman of the Board. He served as Chairman and CEO from 2006 to 2015. Over the course of 20 years at the helm of Cisco, he helped grow the company from $70 million when he joined, to $1.2 billion when he assumed the role of CEO, to $47 billion when he stepped down as CEO in 2015.
Chambers has received numerous awards for his leadership, including being named the number two "Best-Performing CEOs in the World" in 2015 from Harvard Business Review and the recipient of the Edison Achievement Award for Innovation. Chambers was most recently awarded France's National Defense Gold Medal, the only foreign business leader to ever receive the award in its 35 year history.
In addition, Chambers was named one of Barron's' "World's Best CEOs," "CEO of the Year" by Chief Executive Magazine, TimeMagazine's "100 Most Influential People," the "Best Boss in America" by 20/20, one of BusinessWeek's "Top 25 Executives Worldwide," the Business Council's "Award for Corporate Leadership," "Best Investor Relations by a CEO" from Investor Relations Magazine three times, and the 2012 Bower Award for Business Leadership from the Franklin Institute.
During his tenure as CEO, Cisco was named to Fortune's "America's Most Admired Company" list since 1999 ranking number one in the Network Communications category eight times, BusinessWeek's "Top 50 Performers" list six times, and Forbes' "Leading Companies in the World," and is one of the top 10 places to work in the United States, China, Germany, France, India, UK, Australia, Singapore, and several other countries.
In addition, Chambers has been widely recognized for his and Cisco's philanthropic leadership, including receiving the U.S. State Department's top corporate social responsibility award (ACE) twice, from both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010 and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2005. He also received the first-ever Clinton Global Citizen Award from former U.S. President Bill Clinton and has been awarded the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship and the prestigious Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy Award, an award given by CEOs to their CEO peers.
Chambers takes an active role in corporate social responsibility initiatives worldwide. His focus now more than ever is on potential peace in the Middle East. Through Country Digitization, job creation and stability are more attainable for the middle class, particularly in Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. Partnerships have included working with the Palestinian ICT sector growing ICT from 0.8 percent to more than 5 percent of GDP in two years and Connecting Sichuan, an effort to help rebuild healthcare and education models affected by the May 2008 earthquake. Chambers also cosponsored the Jordan Education Initiative by partnering with the Jordanian government and co-led a delegation of U.S. business leaders, with the U.S. State Department, to form the Partnership for Lebanon. In July 2017 Chambers became Chairman of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), a position he holds today.
A significant focus for Chambers is on job creation globally and the acceleration of digital start-ups. In each country around the world Chambers meets with regional start-ups and organizations, ranging from Young Presidents Organization events, to Venture Capital portfolio companies, to early-stage start-ups. He has invested in and joined the board of directors for Airware, OpenGov, Pindrop, and Sprinklr.
Chambers has served two American presidents. He was Vice Chairman of President George W. Bush's National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC), where he provided industry experience and leadership to help protect critical U.S. infrastructure. He also served on President George W. Bush's Transition Team and Education Committee and on President Bill Clinton's Trade Policy Committee.
Prior to joining Cisco, Chambers spent eight years at Wang Laboratories (1982–1990) and six years with IBM (1976–1982). He holds a bachelor of science / bachelor of arts degree in business and a law degree from West Virginia University and a master of business administration degree in finance and management from Indiana University.