Cisco Deep-Sixes Women's Leadership Forum


Cisco Systems has canceled its Women's Leadership Forum in San Diego as part of its companywide initiative to reduce expenses by $1 billion throughout fiscal year 2009.

The cancellation of the Forum, which was planned for Nov. 12 through 13, comes just days after Cisco lowered its revenue forecast for the second quarter 2009. In a conference call Wednesday to discuss Cisco's first quarter financial results, chairman and CEO John Chambers said the networking powerhouse expects revenue to drop between 5 percent and 10 percent year over year in the second fiscal quarter 2009 due to the "challenging global economy."

To combat the anticipated revenue dip, Chambers said San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco plans to realign resources, implement a hiring freeze and cut business travel in a bid to reduce 2009 expenses by more than $1 billion.

The cancellation of the Women's Leadership Forum falls in line with Cisco's cost-cutting initiative.

"Cisco has taken on a companywide initiative to reduce overall expenses," said an e-mail circulating among prospective Forum attendees. "To tackle the economic turbulence, we are cutting the amount of internal business travel which directly affects the Women's Leadership Forum."

The responsibility to meet this goal is a collective effort of all Cisco employees," the e-mail continued. "With this responsibility came the tough decision to postpone this year's event."

Cisco could not be reached Friday morning for additional comment on the shuttering of the Women's Leadership Forum.

Cisco posted $10.3 billion in first quarter revenue, an 8.1 percent jump over a year ago, but Chambers this week acknowledged that the tumultuous economic waters are already impacting the company, which saw product orders drop 9 percent year-over-year in October alone, a dramatic turnaround on the 7 percent order increase it realized just two months prior.

"All of us are seeing the same financial and global economic challenges that others have reported, especially in October," Chambers said on Wednesday's conference call, noting the economic climate has made it the "second most difficult time in my career" to provide quarterly guidance.

Despite the economic uncertainty, Chambers said Cisco remains confident that it will realize its long-term growth goals of between 12 and 17 percent.

Cisco's cancellation of the Women's Leadership Forum is another example of how technology companies nationwide are tightening their financial belts in a tough economy.

Companies like Yahoo, Motorola, Dell, Lenovo, Qwest and a host of others have instituted layoffs while several other companies have implemented hiring freezes and slashed corporate travel.

In a similar move last month, storage vendor NetApp cancelled its user conference due to economic fears. That conference, which was originally planned in August and was scheduled to run Feb. 23 to 26 in San Francisco, was to be NetApp's first-ever user conference.