September 25, 2012 / 11:45 PM / 5 years ago

Cisco CEO: Next US president must take page from Clinton's book

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cisco Systems Inc CEO John Chambers, a supporter of Mitt Romney, says the country’s next head of state should take his cues from former President Bill Clinton, regardless of who emerges as the victor in November’s election.

“There’s a lot to learn from President Clinton. It kills me as a strong Republican saying it, but he was the most effective president during my lifetime,” Chambers told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Chambers said Clinton worked with businesses to generate jobs and growth in real income for families, while taking the budget from a deficit to a surplus.

“And when business got out of line, he smacked them,” Chambers said.

Some technology industry leaders view President Barack Obama as anti-business because of uncertainty blamed on the Dodd-Frank financial regulation reform and healthcare overhaul.

Obama was the darling of the technology world during his campaign in 2008, but Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a former private equity executive, has made inroads in Silicon Valley.

“The business community is very comfortable with Romney,” Chambers said.

But no matter who won, the challenges remained the same.

“If we don’t deal with the fiscal cliff and don’t deal with predictability on taxes for both citizens and business, with the rest of the world in a struggling state, this is really bad for us,” he added.

The “fiscal cliff” refers to the impact of around $500 billion in expiring tax cuts and automatic spending reductions set for 2013 as a result of successive failures by Congress to agree on some orderly alternative method of reducing budget deficits.

Asked if he would consider accepting a political appointment himself, Chambers said he had been asked by previous administrations but turned them down.

“I don’t enjoy politics,” he said. “I like to get things done and I like Republicans and Democrats, and that doesn’t always work well.”

About his own future at Cisco, where he has been in charge for almost 18 years, Chambers repeated he would not be in that role in two to four years and that the company had a few candidates as potential successors.

“We have always had a hit-by-the-bus scenario that’s Gary Moore for me,” Chambers said, speaking of Cisco’s Chief Operating Officer.

Cisco wanted any transition to be as smooth as possible and there were around 10 candidates who were potential candidates.

“When we evolve the CEO you shouldn’t even notice it is happening,” Chambers said. “We have a next generation of leaders at multiple levels. We have three to five at the first wave and probably four to five in the second.”

He said the company made a point of moving executives around to ensure they were not “kept in silos,” citing Edzard Overbeek as an example. Overbeek was head of Cisco’s sales in the Asia Pacific region, but was recently named senior vice president for global.

Editing by Andre Grenon

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