10 Ex-Cisco Employees Making an Impact in the Industry

Cisco alumni can be found throughout the tech industry. These are the ones that are making a big impact in their new roles.

Over the past few years the talent leaving Cisco has been well documented. Considering the massive size of Cisco's employee base and the transition it's trying to make to an IT services company, it should be no surprise that Cisco would see some churn of its employee base. But which people have had the most impact on their new employers? From my perspective as an industry analyst, here are the people that I see having had the most impact in the industry since departing Cisco. I'll also list other ex-Cisco folks at these companies, so my apologies if I miss anyone.

Pierre-Paul Allard, SVP of Worldwide Sales and President of Global Field Operations, Avaya

When it comes to Avaya, there's no shortage of ex-Cisco talent, starting with CEO Kevin Kennedy. However, none have had the impact that Allard has had. Avaya has always had great products, but the sales execution has historically been spotty. In addition to being a fellow Canadian, Allard is a sales machine that never takes no for an answer. Feedback on him across Avaya has been universally positive and his competitive, fiery attitude has become pervasive across the company.

Other notable ex-Cisco employees at Avaya: Kevin Kennedy, Mary Monday, Mark Randall, Karl Muelema

Doug Gourlay, VP of Systems Engineering and Technology Marketing, Arista Networks

The easy thing to do would have been to make note of CEO Jayshree Ullal, but frankly she gets enough accolades for the rise of Cisco's newest foe. The impact that Gourlay has had, though, is also noteworthy. Early in the history of Arista, the company had little in the way of marketing resources, and Doug was a one-man band. Gourlay knows a lot of people, talks to a lot of people, and has made an industry aware of Arista and its unique product offerings.

Other notable ex-Ciscoers at Arista: Jayshree Ullal, Ed Champan, Mark Foss, Hugh Holbrook, Jeff Hirschman. The list goes on…

Ben Gibson, Chief Marketing Officer, Aruba Networks

In many of the markets Cisco competes in there remains a single, standalone company that can go toe to toe with Cisco. In Wi-Fi, that company happens to be Aruba Networks. However, that wasn't always the case. Prior to Gibson's arrival, like many niche vendors, Aruba was known as a good Wi-Fi alternative to Cisco, but never really managed to separate itself from the rest of the pack. During Gibson's tenure, the company has had some excellent marketing campaigns, including the most recent BYOD initiative that leverages ClearPass moving the market away from Wi-Fi speeds and feeds. Additionally, the "Airheads" community and series of local events leveraged the power of social media to help customers do more with Aruba infrastructure.

Nicole Hall, VP Corporate Marketing and Analyst Relations, Polycom

As an industry analyst my main conduit into most companies is through the analyst relations program, of which some are good and some are bad. Prior to Hall's arrive, Polycom's AR program was in shambles and needed to be revamped as the company shifted its focus from being a 'video conferencing' vendor to a collaboration solutions provider. Hall brought some much-needed discipline and aggressiveness from Cisco to Polycom's AR program, which has resulted in better, more accurate coverage of the company. Her work has been so successful there that she was recently handed the reins to corporate marketing as well.

Other notable ex-Ciscoers: AE Natarajan

Kara Wilson, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, FireEye

If there's a technology market that changes more than security, I'm not sure what it is. It seems that in the security industry, what's considered a market leader changes almost monthly. FireEye is the latest security vendor to take an alternative approach, bringing more of a "platform" approach to security rather than just trying to sell the "speeds and feeds." Who better to market this approach than the person who led Cisco's platform-focused collaboration marketing? During her tenure at Cisco, the company established itself as the clear No. 1 in that market. Now that FireEye is through its IPO, Wilson can use some of that experience to make the company more than just another niche security vendor.

John Noh, Senior Director of Corporate Communications, Brocade

John Noh joined Brocade just prior to the acquisition of Foundry Networks in 2008. That acquisition shifted Brocade from being a niche vendor focused on storage networking to more of a provider of end-to-end data center solutions. While the product teams obviously had to integrate the products together and come up with a unified story, someone had to come in and change the way the company dealt with analysts and media, and that person was John Noh. Since his arrival, Brocade is on its second CEO, third head of the IP division, and has had other turnover in the executive ranks, leaving Noh as one of the few public-facing constants.

Other notable ex-Ciscoers: Lisa Caywood, Sandeep Singh Kohli

Lynn Lucas, Chief Marketing Officer, Good Technology

Historically, Good Technology was considered a necessary evil for organizations that wanted to give secure access to mobile devices. The technology wasn't all that popular with end users, and even some IT departments thought it was hard to deploy and even harder to use. In short, the Good products were no-Good (sorry, couldn't resist). Lynn Lucas is another graduate of the Cisco school of collaboration marketing, and since her arrival the company has shed its sole focus just on mobile device management (MDM) and is now focused on delivering secure application delivery, which includes the previously mentioned MDM products as well as application wrapping, mobile development toolkits and and ISV program.

Other notable ex-Ciscoers: Julie O'Brien

Dayle Hall, VP of Brand & Digital Marketing, Lithium

I gave Ben Gibson credit earlier for the creation and fostering of the Airheads Community at Aruba. While Gibson was the man in charge, Dayle Hall was actually the person who put it together. At Cisco, Hall was doing CIO-level messaging for the data center business unit, which isn't an easy thing in its own right. However, it was at Aruba where Dayle put social media on his resume, and he took those talents to Lithium. There aren't many ex-Cisco folks who understand social, which many, myself included, view as the future of marketing. But Dayle does and the big company experience from Cisco, combined with the experience in building AirHeads, gives him a rather unique skill set.

Manny Rivelo, EVP of Strategic Solutions, F5 Networks

Historically, F5 has been known as an application delivery vendor, but the company sells so much more than just load balancers. Over the years, F5 has amassed other "application delivery" products, including security, WAN and storage products. The key for F5 to maintain long-term leadership in this market is shifting from a product company to a solutions company, meaning Rivelo's job may be among the most important at F5 today. The recent Synthesis release from F5 is a good example of an "F5 solution," rather than just a collection of products.

OJ Winge, CEO of Acano

OJ Winge came to Cisco through the acquisition of Tandberg and ran the collaboration group. hile he was at Cisco, he starred in this collaboration rap video and improved the integration of video with Cisco's collaboration suite. Most recently, he and other former Cisco people founded a startup called Acano offering a pure software solution that brings together all forms of collaboration, including video, audio and web. OJ is a dynamic, energetic executive who understands the collaboration industry well, and recently Acano has hit the radar of many of the channel partners I know, particularly those in Europe.

Other ex-Ciscoers: Larry Satterfield