Channel programs News

Sources: Cisco Systems Marketing And Communications Team Hit Hard In Recent Layoff Round

Kevin McLaughlin

Cisco Systems, in an under-the-radar round of job cuts earlier this month, laid off about 120 people from its Global Marketing and Corporate Communications organization, including several senior-level staff members who'd been at the company for more than a decade, sources familiar with the situation told CRN recently.

After a recent restructuring, Cisco's field and product marketing teams are now reporting to Cisco Chief Marketing Officer Karen Walker, said the sources. The recent layoffs are part of her effort to consolidate the existing organization, they said.

Laura Fay, vice president of integrated marketing communications and a 22-year Cisco veteran, was among the employees that were let go, said the sources, who all spoke on condition of anonymity.

[Related: 5 Things To Know About Cisco's Bleak Second-Quarter Forecast]

A Cisco spokeswoman confirmed Fay's departure in an email to CRN on Wednesday, but did not respond to a question about whether she'll be replaced.

Fay joined Cisco in 1993 in its very first acquisition -- Crescendo Communications -- which launched the networking giant into the switching market. That deal also brought Cisco three top engineers -- Mario Mazzola, Luca Cafiero and Prem Jain -- who went on to lead development of "spin-ins" Andiamo, Nuova and most recently, Insieme -- the basis for its Application Centric Infrastructure technology.

Michelle Chiantera, senior director of Americas partner marketing and a 15-year Cisco veteran, is now leading Cisco's global partner marketing, the Cisco spokeswoman said.

Cisco, San Jose, Calif., has seen several executive exits recently, beginning soon after it revealed in May that worldwide sales chief Chuck Robbins would be taking over as CEO when John Chambers stepped down in July. Robbins appointed a new leadership team in June and said he planned to reshape Cisco into a flatter, faster-moving organization.

Bruce Klein, former Cisco channel chief, left the company in July and was replaced by 15-year Cisco veteran Wendy Bahr.

Since then, Cisco has seen a number of channel executives depart, including Surinder Brar, chief of partner strategy for its Cloud and Managed Services Organization, and Richard McLeod, senior director of worldwide collaboration channel sales.

Two 17-year veterans -- Claire Trimble, director of global strategy and marketing operations, and Vicki Araujo, senior manager of global partner marketing -- left in August, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

Other recent senior level departures include Raja Sundaram, vice president of digital, software and analytics go-to-market and sales; and Faisal Hanafi, vice president of strategy and partner experience, who joined Citrix Systems earlier this month as vice president of sales strategy and operations, according to his LinkedIn profile.

"There are lots of new chiefs in the organization, so I am not shocked by any changes -- especially in Wendy's organization," said one Cisco partner, who didn't want to be named.

The Cisco spokeswoman provided CRN with a prepared statement on the recent layoffs, but didn't respond to a question about the total number of employees that were laid off in the latest round of cuts.

"We will always make the hard decisions to position Cisco to lead into the future," the Cisco spokeswoman said in the statement. "Some of these decisions involve ensuring we have the right talent in the right places to drive our strategy and growth. We remain committed to our channel partners and related marketing initiatives."

Although Cisco laid off some employees in July around the end of its fiscal year, Robbins said in a blog post at the time that the vendor actually planned to grow its employee base.

"A limited number of our employees will be impacted, but we will exit Q4 with our headcount up and, based on our current business assumptions, expect an increase in our headcount as we exit next fiscal year," Robbins said in the blog post.


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