Cisco loses another top executive

A second top executive at the high-flying networking giant resigns, but the company says the loss is not a sign it is suffering a brain drain.

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A second top Cisco Systems executive resigned Thursday, but the high-flying networking giant said the loss is not a sign it is suffering a brain drain.

Gary Daichendt, Cisco's executive vice president of worldwide operations, has left the company after six years to spend more time with his family, the company said Thursday. Daichendt's resignation follows the August departure of executive vice president Don Listwin, who left Cisco to become chief executive of Phone.com, now called Openwave Systems.

Daichendt's resignation leaves Cisco chief executive John Chambers minus the two top executives he began the year with. But the company said in a statement that other executives at Cisco will pick up the slack and that the transition has been in the works for several months.

Senior vice presidents Rick Justice and Carl Redfield will assume Daichendt's duties and report directly to Chambers. Justice runs worldwide sales and manufacturing, while Redfield handles worldwide manufacturing operations.

"I am confident that the quality leadership team that Gary has developed for both sales and manufacturing will ensure a smooth transition and positive momentum for our customers, employees, partners and suppliers," Chambers said in a statement.

After Listwin's departure, Chambers assumed some of his duties and Kevin Kennedy, senior vice president for Cisco's service provider line of business, also took on a greater role.

Analyst Erik Suppiger of Chase Hambrecht & Quist said the recent exits by the two top executives are a concern for investors but that Cisco's strong management team can weather the departures. Cisco executives have predicted strong financial results for the upcoming quarter and beyond.

"Cisco still has an impressive, solid management team. And they have all proven themselves and demonstrated strong execution," said Suppiger.

Listwin, a 10-year veteran of Cisco, was thought to be a likely successor to Chambers, though there has been no indication that Chambers will relinquish his duties anytime soon. Chambers has regularly stated that he didn't have a No. 2 executive and would not designate a successor until a year before his retirement.

Cisco has also been attracting executives to work for the company. Cisco last week lured an AT&T executive to tackle the telecommunications equipment business.

Former AT&T executive Hossein Eslambolchi, 42, joined Cisco as senior vice president of service provider solutions. He reports to Kennedy, another former AT&T executive.