Former Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior May Become Microsoft Board Member

Cisco Systems' former CTO and strategy officer, Padmasree Warrior, potentially could become a member of Microsoft’s board of directors in December. If elected, it would be her first appointment since leaving Cisco earlier this year after a seven-year stint with the San Jose, Calif., networking giant.

"You knew she was going to pop up somewhere big after she left Cisco -- she's such a high-profile person in tech and huge in India," said one solution provider executive and Cisco Gold partner who declined to be identified. "She does have an insider's look of Cisco and I don't know how that will exactly play out. … There might be something there, but a lot of people have left Cisco."

Unlike former Cisco executives Gary Moore, who had been president and COO, and Rob Lloyd, former president, development and sales, Warrior wasn't banned from working at a competing company.

[Related: Cisco's Chuck Robbins On Fending Off Dell, New Channel Leadership And The Perks Of Being CEO]

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Lloyd and Moore each signed a separation agreement and general release from Cisco effective July 25 that included a one-year noncompete agreement, in which they said they will not work for a total of 29 competitors -- including Microsoft – during that time frame or risk losing benefits, according to a Cisco filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission at the time. Cisco at the time declined to comment on personnel matters involved in Warrior's departure.

Lloyd for his part, took a CEO job at transportation company Hyperloop Technologies last month.

The popular Warrior was asked to take one of two vacancies on Microsoft’s board that shareholders will vote on during the company’s annual meeting in December, according to a recent Microsoft SEC filing. The board nominated Warrior due to her accomplishments and "extraordinary" leadership in the spaces of networking, communications and mobile technology, which is directly relevant to Microsoft's strategic vision and business strategies, according to the filing.

"Warrior brings significant experience in driving technology and operational innovation across a global company, and in forging growth through strategic partnerships and new business models," said Microsoft's independent board chairman, John Thompson, in the filing. "She understands how to make high-stakes decisions in ambiguous and quickly evolving environments."

Warrior revealed she was leaving Cisco shortly after Chuck Robbins was unanimously selected as the company's new CEO in May. On June 4, Robbins unveiled a new leadership team while at the same time announcing Warrior’s departure, along with those of several other top executives.

Warrior stayed on at Cisco in a strategic adviser role until September.

The solution provider executive didn't expect any "extra aggression" toward Cisco if Warrior were elected to the Microsoft board.

"Honestly, I don't think she'll take a direct shot at Cisco or anything like that. ... I don't think there's any ill will," said the solution provider executive. "She does have the inside knowledge of the goings-on at Cisco though … who knows what she'll do with [that knowledge]."

The rumor mill has been swirling in recent months on where Warrior would land, including some predicting she would nab a top role at $7.5 billion Bangalore, India-based global solution provider Wipro and some predicting she might have even been named CEO of Twitter before Jack Doresey's appointment.

If elected, Warrior, 55, would begin her term on Dec. 2, 2015. Warrior is currently a member on a variety of boards including Gap Inc. and the software company Box.

In regard to Cisco's relationship with Microsoft, the two companies signed a three-year agreement in 2014 to drive deeper integration across their data center portfolios and jointly market their technology. Earlier this year, the two companies introduced Cisco Cloud Architecture for the Microsoft Cloud Platform, which integrates Cisco's ACI with Microsoft's Windows Azure Pack to help cloud providers more quickly deliver hybrid cloud services while simplifying operations and cutting costs.