(Bloomberg) -- Cisco Systems Inc. appointed company veteran Chuck Robbins chief executive officer to succeed John Chambers, as one of the longest running technology leaders leaves the position about a year ahead of schedule.

Robbins assumes his new post on July 26. Chambers, 65, had said he would step down by the end of the fiscal year that ends in July 2016. Chambers will become executive chairman, the San Jose, California-based company said Monday.

As CEO of the computer-networking company for two decades, Chambers was one of the most prominent spokesmen for the boom that transformed the Internet into a network that redefined how we work, communicate and get entertainment.

He charted the rise that briefly made Cisco the world’s most valuable company and later navigated the company through the dot-com bust, the financial crisis and the advent of a fresh crop of competitors that are creating less-expensive ways to design and manage computer networks.

“I think Chambers has done a good job against an increasingly difficult position,” said Alex Henderson, an analyst at Needham & Co. “But I also think Cisco has serious challenges longer term.”


Management Overhaul


Chambers has had to replenish senior leadership ranks in recent years after overhauling a management structure that, according to investors and former employees, slowed decision making and drove out would-be successors. Chambers had identified Robbins as among 10 possible candidates for the CEO post as early as 2012.

Chambers’s compensation dropped 22 percent to $16.5 million for fiscal 2014, after the company fell short of revenue and operating income targets.

Robbins, speaking in a video posted on Cisco’s website, said he would spend his first 90 days in the job talking with employees, the leadership team, customers and partners. He will “aggregate” his own ideas with theirs to build a plan for the coming years, Robbins said, alongside Chambers.

“Being the mathematician with a focus on numbers, we’re going to drive a level of operational rigor that maybe even is a little tougher than what you did, John,” the incoming CEO said.

Robbins, 49, joined Cisco in 1997. He most recently served as the networking company’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, leading the global sales and partners team, which Cisco said generates $47 billion in business. He was also an architect of the company’s strategy for the commercial-business segment, which represents 25 percent of Cisco’s total business. Robbins was elected to the board effective May 1.

Cisco shares were little changed at $29.27 at 9:46 a.m. New York time. Through Friday, the stock had added 4.7 percent this year.


--With assistance from Carol Hymowitz in New York.

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