John Chambers, Cisco: Wireline's most powerful people

What makes him powerful:

John Chambers

John Chambers, CEO & Chairman, Cisco

There's a saying in the telecom and IT industries that "no one was ever fired for purchasing Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) equipment." And despite some setbacks in terms of product focus, that spirit has been driven by the leadership of company CEO and chairman John Chambers.

Since he became CEO in 1995, Chambers has expanded the company's $1.2 billion value when he assumed the role of CEO, to its current run rate of $40 billion today.

Already a dominant force in the carrier and enterprise switching and router market, Chambers set forth an ambitious agenda in recent years to expand Cisco's fortunes into the consumer markets via its acquisitions of  former Scientific Atlanta cable business, Linksys (WiFi routers) and the Flip consumer camera business.

This strategy, however, hasn't been exactly easy for Chambers and Cisco.

Now Chambers is facing one of the biggest challenges of his tenure at Cisco: Steering the company back to profitability and credibility.

The focus on other industry segments took a toll on Cisco's once-dominant hold on the market--down to 55 percent from 66 percent--and its share in switches has fallen 2 percentage points to 67 percent, according to research firm IDC. Even so, Cisco still commands a large portion of the routing/switching market that competitors could only dream about.  

Chambers is making some sweeping changes in the company's structure to right the ship, including shutting down the Flip Camera business and simplifying its management structure.

While it's true Chambers certainly has a lot on his to-do list, his long experience in IT and telecom means his influence on the wireline and wireless industry will continue.

John Chambers, Cisco: Wireline's most powerful people