I’ve been spending the past few days back at the Cisco campus. I was with the Cisco account team here at Microsoft presenting to the Cisco tech community on a variety of IT Pro and Developer related topics.
This morning, I heard of Cisco’s upper engineering management “shake-up”. I hear that Charlie Giancarlo, has been promoted as the main “go-to” guy, the CDO, the signal-caller, the call-maker, basically “da bomb” of Cisco engineering. So, what do I think about this?
I think this move was overdue. I’m of the opinion that anyone who stays in any one position way too long (like Mario Mazzola did) is going to peak his performance capabilities. Mario did an excellent job back in the mid to late 90s. In the years to follow, Cisco engineering had become a dull not-so-exciting place to be. While people bitch and whine about change not being a good thing, I frankly feel this particular move is definitely the beginning of a new era for Cisco. One thats overdue, and one that’ll hopefully make Cisco a fun place to work at, for enginerds, again.
I was back at the building where I “lived” for a few years, building 24, the building that hosts the group that engineers the IOS. It felt odd… Was this building always this quiet? What are all the living people doing at work - are they even breathing? I’d occasionally see an engineer, and we’d see eye-to-eye for one second, and before I could give the customary “wazzzzzzup” nod, he’d look back at the floor, and keep walking. At one point, I heard a pin drop, but turns out the pin had dropped in Kathmandu, some good 10000 miles away (or something). I went by some of my friends’s cubes, and they were there alright, but when we would start to chat, they’d whisper. Building 24 had gone mum, people were afraid to speak (up). It looked like people didn’t want to be seen or heard. I went to the men’s restroom, and I could’ve sworn I saw a pair of legs sitting on the john as I walked by, and I turned my head away for a split second, and the legs were gone. They all looked like moles working quietly on an extremely secretive project. Bottom-line: it didn’t feel like these engineers were having any fun.
In the old days, bldg 24 used to be rockin’. I’d waltz in around 11am, and honest-to-your-favorite-celebrity, I could hear balloons popping, strippers yodeling, big bouncers id-ing people and all that jazz… Ok, it wasn’t that much fun, I’m totally exaggerating – we didn’t have balloons all the time. But we seriously had a lot of fun. We made building 24 a fun place to work at. We used to all hang by Sandra’s desk and talk about… frankly, I can’t recollect. But we had fun. And fun made me want to work there. I waltzed in at 11am, but usually left at around midnight.
I must say, I knew CharlieG ‘way back when’. My management team and I proposed a killer project to CharlieG a few years ago and I remember meeting him for the first time. After I’d demo’d the prototype of the project to him, he jumped up on his desk and went “we wants it, we needs it, must have the precious”. He loved our project proposal, and more importantly, he got me (me – a software development engineer). I didn’t have to do a powerpoint presentation. I liked that about him. And I should’ve bet big bucks that he’d become CDO some day. And, today, I want to be the first to put it in print, that I think CharlieG will be CEO (of Cisco) some time in the near future.
So, congratulations CharlieG! Rock on!