Cisco Executive Leadership: Three Major Promotions Unveiled On International Women’s Day

The tech giant announced executive promotions on Monday for three of its female leaders, including raising customer experience leader Maria Martinez to COO.


Cisco Systems is raising up three of its female leaders, the tech giant announced on Monday afternoon just in time for International Women’s Day 2021.

Fran Katsoudas, a 25-year Cisco veteran, has been named Chief People, Policy and Purpose Officer. Liz Centoni, who has spent 21 years at the tech giant, will now also lead Cisco‘s Applications business as its Chief Strategy Officer and general manager, Applications. Finally, the chief operating officer seat will go to Maria Martinez, a three-year Cisco leader.

Cisco wants to accelerate the pace of innovation for its customers and partners, something that requires cross-company collaboration, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said in a blog post about the promotions published on Monday.

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“These newly-defined roles will help us move forward with even greater speed and deeper focus,” he said. “With these three fantastic leaders driving key areas of our business, I am excited for we will accomplish, and I am confident that we have a unique opportunity to shape the future for our customers, partners, and employees, and to continue to make a positive impact in the world around us.”

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Katsoudas got her start with Cisco 25 years ago as a contact center agent. Since then, the longtime executive has moved up the ranks with the company‘s HR team and has spent the last five years running Cisco’s People and Communities organization, most recently as executive vice president and chief people officer. In her newly-expanded role as Chief People, Policy and Purpose Officer, Katsoudas will also oversee Cisco’s Global Government Affairs and Country Digital Acceleration team, according to Cisco.

A longtime Cisco veteran of more than two decades, Centoni began as senior director of engineering for the tech company in 2000. She’s held a number of vice president-level engineering and strategy roles, including most recently being tapped to lead Cisco’s Future Technologies and Incubation group that was formed last March. Centoni has done a fair amount of moving around within Cisco over the last two years. She served as senior vice president and general manager of IoT for Cisco for nearly two years before she was tapped as the leader of the Cloud Strategy and Compute business unit that was formed in 2019. In her latest promotion, Centoni will now lead the company‘s Applications business as Chief Strategy Officer and general manager, Applications, which will include alignment with Cisco’s cloud application monitoring business, AppDynamics, the company said.

Jeetu Patel, who joined Cisco in June as the company’s senior vice president and general manager, security and applications Group, will continue to lead both businesses, Robbins said in his blog post. Patel will focus on security and collaboration, while Centoni will bring AppDynamics in her full stack observability report, the company said. Both executives will continue to report to Robbins.

Martinez, Cisco’s executive vice president and chief customer experience officer since 2018, is now taking over at the operations helm.

Irving Tan, Cisco’s executive vice president and chief of operations, left the company in December for personal reasons after two years in the role and 14 years with Cisco. A Cisco spokesperson in December told CRN that the company was bringing operations and customer experience together as a result of Tan’s departure. In her new role as COO, Martinez will lead both operations and customer experience, a new role for Cisco, a spokesperson told CRN.