On the day he leaves Cisco after a stellar 13-year tenure, Mike Volpi shares some thoughts on his departure and his future plans with Network World Managing Editor Jim Duffy.
How long were you thinking about leaving Cisco?
I really made the decision last month. But I've been thinking about it for the last three months.
What do you plan to do?
I don't really have specific plans. I'm going to take about four to six months and figure out what's next. Life here at Cisco sort of consumes you so there's not much time to look at what happens for life after Cisco. So my job for the next six months is to figure out what I'm going to do after that.
Wire reports indicate that you're looking to start your own company. Is that the way you're leaning?
I don't know. Right now the market is very ripe for executives that have a little bit of experience. So I have a lot of things that are potential opportunities. I could start something on my own. I don't know that that's likely because when you're at Cisco you get a little bit spoiled in terms of working in things of large scale that have a big impact on the industry, and I certainly enjoyed that. So I have a feeling that I'll probably end up doing something that has a big impact. It might be still a small company but something that has a big impact. Exactly how it works out I genuinely don't know.
Was your decision prompted by the latest reorganization?
No. The two things coincided but this is something I've been thinking about for a few months. My standing here at Cisco is great. In a sense I'm very sad to be leaving because the company has been wonderful for me and I think that folks here would love to have me stay too. So I think more than anything else, it's been 13 years and it's been a really good thing and it's my personal aspiration or desire to do something where I potentially have a somewhat bigger impact or more of my own -- I call it DNA or signature on a project, the company or something like that that I do -- is my motivation for departing. The reorganization really had virtually nothing to do with my decision.
You were considered one of the top two or three candidates to replace John Chambers as CEO. Was that not appealing to you, or was the wait too long, or did you get indications that you would not be the successor to John?
For one, John's going to be around for some time. I don't think we really measure our own -- at least I certainly never did at Cisco think about when do I get that job. Running a big company is a tough task and I'm not sure that I'm willing to give that much of my personal life away for it. I wouldn't say that I ever thought of myself in that context. So any decisions about succession planning or otherwise weren't really part of my decision making at all.