“To date Cisco has acquired Israeli companies for $7.2 billion and we have invested much more here in Israel,” Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said in conversation with “Globes” publisher Alona Bar-On during the gala opening of the 2022 Globes Israel Business Conference.
Bar-On asked Robbins, “If we were now graduates of Stanford where Steve Jobs gave his famous speech, and the economic climate was complicated as it is now, what would you tell us?”
Robbins responded, “I am speaking with students all the time and employees in the early stages of their career. I tell them. Work hard, enjoy what you do and find a place in which you love to work.
“In the current climate there is a need for more up-to-date comments. Do everything that you want to do but be courteous. Try to understand the perspective of others because we have lost the ability to do this in today’s world. We are quick to judge we need to contribute to this polarized world in which we live today.”
Bar-On: As the CEO of one of the world’s biggest tech companies what are your priorities?
“We invest in 5G, in the cloud, cybersecurity, I have met with some companies here in Israel and the innovation here is thrilling. I’ve come here several times in recent years and it is only growing and improving.”
Robbins expanded on the secret of Israel’s magic. He said, “We love this country and it’s an amazing place. A model of innovation. When you think of the size of Israel and the amount of startups and technology, it’s phenomenal. It’s important to mention that activities here in Israel are less than half a percent of our revenue annually. And we are here because there is a lot to learn from you, the ecosystem here is super impressive and we are speaking to companies all the time. What we find here is simply unbelievable.”
In this context, it is important to mention that Cisco Israel, led by managing director Oren Sagi has doubled sales over the past five years from NIS 500 million to NIS 1 billion.
In surveys worldwide, Cisco is ranked as the best company to work for. In a similar survey in Israel, Cisco was ranked in third place. What is your secret?
“I’m not happy that we are in third place but we are in first place in 14 countries worldwide. What we are trying to do is always to be in touch and in dialogue with employees. We are trying to be frank with our employees and we are answering questions. Employees today very much want to work with a company that they believe in and lives up to its aims.”
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Around the world CEOs are forced to cope with an uncertain economic situation and difficult volatility due to inflation and interest rates. Bar-On asked Robbins if he advises other CEOs.
“This is a very complex period. From my point of view, technology has become the core of what our customers do and how you produce revenue. The CEO community in the US has been through a lot, we’ve been through economic crises, and now we are going through Covid. If we were to wait for things to be normal for our companies, we would freeze up.
“I listened to Coca Cola’s CEO in an interview,” Robbins added, “and the interviewer tried to understand if they were making cuts due to the economic situation. He said that no they are working full out. And so I say that if we freeze the situation because of uncertainty, your rivals will move forward and you would miss opportunities. I think that the time will come when we will need to do things differently but I simply don’t think that we are at that point.
The Globes Israel Business Conference is held in cooperation with Bank Hapoalim, with sponsorship from The Phoenix Holdings, Amdocs, BDO, HOT, Geely, Shufersal, El Al, Tnuva, Profimex, The Israel Medical Association, My Desk, Contigo, and Cisco, and with the participation of Mekorot, the Israel Innovation Authority, Mobileye, Startup Nation Central, The Port of Ashdod, and Israel Electric Corporation.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on October 30, 2022.
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.