1. John Chambers
Chairman, CEO, Cisco Systems
Talk to Cisco channel partners and they will tell you the company has never been stronger. Even a belt-tightening in the summer with a layoff of 5 percent of the workforce in order to refocus resources on growth areas was seen by partners as sharpening the company's enterprise networking edge. It's a far cry from the sentiment two years ago, when Chambers apologized for disappointing investors and confusing employees with a market attack that spread the $49 billion networking market leader too thin.
Chambers went to work exiting the Flip consumer video device business and then selling the Cisco Linksys home networking business in January. Then he doubled down this year on Cisco's core enterprise networking business with a big software-designed networking play with Insieme and a game-changing cybersecurity bet with the $2.7 billion acquisition of Sourcefire.
Chambers has repeatedly said companies that challenge Cisco in major market transitions will lose. His track record on those market transitions is better than any and all comers in the computing game. One big reason: his steadfast channel commitment over an amazing 23 years at Cisco. Call him channel strong.