John Chambers

John Chambers
Chambers spoke to a capacity crowd of students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the University community on the qualities of a great leader on Sept. 28.


John Chambers
Following his lecture, Chambers spent some time with B&E Management Information Systems (MIS) students.

B&E Speaker Series

John Chambers
Chairman & CEO, Cisco
Friday, September 28, 2012

Watch John Chambers' Lecture

John Chambers is one of the most recognized business leaders in the world, heading a corporation with operations on nearly every continent. And he is a Mountaineer.

The Charleston, W.Va., native is Chairman and CEO of Cisco, a globally visible company with more than 65,000 employees around the globe. Chambers, who earned degrees from the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics and the WVU College of Law, will speak at his alma mater on September 28 in B&E at 60, the business school's 60th anniversary lecture series.

"The positive impact of John Chambers on the business world is immeasurable," said WVU President Jim Clements. "As his success skyrocketed over the years, he has remained a most genuine person and has never forgotten his West Virginia roots and values. We are so incredibly proud that John Chambers is a WVU graduate and are honored to welcome him back home to share his experiences with our students and University community."

This Mountaineer's story is a fascinating and amazing one. Chambers helped grow the company from $70 million when he joined Cisco in January, 1991, to $1.2 billion when he assumed the role of CEO, to its current run rate of $40 billion. In 2006, Chambers was named Chairman of the Board, in addition to his CEO role.

"John has been a true friend of the University and the College," said Dr.Jose Sartarelli, Milan Puskar Dean, WVU College of Business and Economics. "He is the very definition of a success story, guiding Cisco into one of the most renowned companies in the world. He has served and been decorated by American presidents, he has demonstrated corporate social responsibility on a global scale, and he has been recognized for his leadership by the top business publications in the U.S. His reputation in the global business arena makes him a fantastic example for students and the University community, and it is a privilege to have him speak in our 60th anniversary lecture series."

Chambers oversees the company that Stanford University computer scientists Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner founded in 1984 and named for San Francisco, the gateway to the Pacific Rim. Bosack and Lerner began to experiment with connecting detached networks, running network cables between two different buildings on the Stanford campus; connecting them first with bridges, and then routers. The two had a vision to enable different networks to talk with each other and share information. They found that in order for the networks to be truly interconnected, a technology had to be invented that could deal with their different characteristics. Thus, the multi-protocol router — and Cisco Systems — were born.

During his leadership at the helm of Cisco, Chambers has received numerous awards, including Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People," one of Barron's' "World's Best CEOs," the "Best Boss in America" by 20/20, one of BusinessWeek's "Top 25 Executives Worldwide," "CEO of the Year" by Chief Executive Magazine, the Business Council's "Award for Corporate Leadership," and "Best Investor Relations by a CEO" from Investor Relations Magazine three times. During his tenure as CEO, Cisco has been named to Fortune's "America's Most Admired Company" list seven times, BusinessWeek's "Top 50 Performers" list six times, Forbes' "Leading Companies in the World." Additionally, Cisco has been named one of the top 10 places to work in the United States, China, Germany, France, India, UK, Australia, Singapore and several other countries.

Additionally, Chambers has been widely recognized for his and Cisco's philanthropic leadership. He has twice received the ACE Award, the U.S. State Department's top corporate social responsibility award, from both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010 and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2005. He received the first-ever Clinton Global Citizen Award from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, as well as the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship and the prestigious Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy Award, an award given by CEOs to their CEO peers.

He has also served two American presidents: as Vice Chairman of the President George W. Bush National Infrastructure Advisory Council and on President Bill Clinton's Trade Policy Committee.