Centennial Speaker Series Webinar Oct. 14: A Conversation with John Chambers

September 24, 2019
John Chambers

In celebration of McIntire’s 100th anniversary in 2021, the Commerce School is pleased to present a special webinar edition of its Centennial Speaker Series Oct 14. The webinar will feature a thought-provoking conversation between visionary leader and former Cisco CEO John Chambers and digital media entrepreneur Rebecca Weeks Watson (McIntire ’01).

McIntire’s global community is invited to register for the 11 a.m. ET, 8 a.m. PT event:

A Silicon Valley Legend
This online installment of the Commerce School’s Centennial Speaker Series welcomes one of the world’s most impactful CEOs and tech trendsetters, who will share his vast experience with our own pioneering alumna—and with the entire McIntire community. Chambers joined Cisco in 1991 when it was a modest company with 400 employees, a single product, and about $70 million in revenue. When he stepped down as CEO in 2015, he had built that modest company into a $47 billion tech giant that was the backbone of the internet. During his tenure, Chambers led Cisco through the acquisition of 180 companies and turned more than 10,000 employees into millionaires.

Widely recognized as an innovator and industry leader, Chambers is now sharing his expertise and leadership lessons with the new generation of leaders. As the Founder and CEO of JC2 Ventures, he is investing in 18 game-changing startups, helping founders become great leaders; scale their companies; create economic prosperity; and better society through diversity, inclusion, and innovation.

An Inventive Alumna
Watson, a digital media producer, entrepreneur, and patent holder, is the Founder and Producer of The Reveal Co., a groundbreaking interview series that uncovers the personal stories of high-profile business leaders. 

She has more than 15 years of experience advising and building startups, one of which was acquired by Meredith Corporation. A speaker at 50 conferences nationwide, she enjoys lecturing at the McIntire School and has recently started teaching a course on lean startups to budding entrepreneurs at Davidson College.

Having interviewed Chambers on The Reveal, Watson is looking forward to speaking with him again for the Centennial Speaker Series.

“John is a business powerhouse who rose from a salesman at IBM to CEO of Cisco, one of the largest and most relied upon companies in the world, growing the company exponentially despite two stock market crashes,” she notes. “It isn’t solely his skills that have driven such remarkable results; they’re also a product of his choices to lead compassionately and to think creatively when faced with challenges. Everyone can benefit from his entertaining stories and words of wisdom.”

A Rare Opportunity
As part of the webinar, Director of the Galant Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and McIntire Professor Eric Martin, along with his “Managing Innovation” students, will be participating in a virtual Q&A session with Chambers, Watson, and the McIntire community.

Martin believes that this webinar offers a rare opportunity for McIntire and the extended University community to learn firsthand from an admired figure who has worked with business and government leaders across the globe to create opportunities to overcome society’s grandest challenges.

“By telling his unique story and accounts of industry-shaping experiences, John Chambers will provide a unique view into corporate culture and innovation,” Martin says. “We are also very excited to hear him share his views and enthusiasm for the international startup community and the promise it holds to effect positive change through commerce. I encourage anyone who can participate in the webinar to register today!”

Have a question you’d like to ask John Chambers? Send your query ahead of the webinar to mandicrisp@virginia.edu, along with your name and class year, and we will do our best to include it in the Q&A portion of the session.

In advance of the webinar, you can also check out Chambers’ book, Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World, and you can enjoy a special 30% discount for the UVA community by ordering the book here.