Longtime Cisco Leader Irving Tan Steps Down

Irving Tan, Cisco’s chief of operations, is leaving the company for personal reasons, Cisco tells CRN. Cisco will be bringing its operations and customer experience segments together as a result of Tan’s departure.


Irving Tan, Cisco’s executive vice president and chief of operations, is leaving the company for personal reasons, effective immediately.

A spokesperson for Cisco told CRN that Tan is leaving to return to Singapore to care for an ill close family member and as a result, is stepping down from his position. Cisco said the departure is unrelated to Cisco’s early retirement offers the company issued in the Fall, or the most recent round of layoffs that Cisco disclosed earlier this month.

“[Tan] has led an incredible transformation, built a phenomenal team and expertly steered us through a number of global challenges, most recently the COVID-19 pandemic. He will stay on with Cisco to help with special projects in the APJC region to drive growth,” Cisco said in a statement to CRN.

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The Cisco spokesperson said that it will be bringing operations and customer experience together as a result of the departure of its chief of operations. The company won’t be bringing on a replacement for Tan’s position. Instead, his responsibilities will be split between R. Scott Herren, Autodesk’s former CFO that is joining Cisco as its CFO on Dec. 18, Maria Martinez, Cisco’s executive vice president and chief customer experience officer that joined the company in 2018, and Fran Katsoudas, executive vice president and chief people officer for Cisco.

“I am excited to lead operations alongside customer experience. These two organizations are the drivers for Cisco’s transformation and, through this alignment, we will further accelerate our efforts here,” customer experience leader Martinez said in a statement. “The teams have already been working very closely and we plan to continue the great work of both, leveraging synergies that are in support of the collective success of Cisco and our ecosystem of customers, partners, and suppliers.”

Tan, a tech executive who has been part of Cisco’s executive leadership team for nearly three years, has been with the company for more than 14 years collectively. Prior to his most current appointment, Tan was president of Cisco Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ). The tech executive has held a variety of positions at Cisco through the years, including leader of Cisco ASEAN, leader of Cisco Singapore and Brunei, and senior manager in both enterprise sales operations and managed services.

Tan started back at Cisco in 2009 after taking a position for a year at Hewlett-Packard as general manager of the company’s Technology Solutions group. Before that, Tan worked at Cisco for three years, starting with the company in 2005 as senior manager, service provider, Internet Business Solutions Group, APAC region. Before his time with Cisco, Tan was a principal at management consultancy firm A.T. Kearney.

Cisco in August announced plans to cut $1 billion in costs over the coming quarters to refocus its research and development investments to transition of the majority of its portfolio to be delivered as a service. The companywide restructuring included both a voluntary early retirement program that was completed in October, as well as layoffs. The tech giant confirmed on Thursday that it has let go 3,500 employees since the COVID-19 pandemic began.