Meet the Chair: Q&A with Business Roundtable Chair Chuck Robbins, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Cisco

Business Roundtable
3 min readMar 20, 2024

This year, Chuck Robbins, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Cisco, assumed the role of Chair at Business Roundtable — an association of CEOs of America’s leading companies, representing every sector of the U.S. economy. The Roundtable team sat down with Chuck for a brief Q&A at the beginning of his tenure.

Q: What is the most important thing people should know about Business Roundtable?

A: Business Roundtable is the voice of America’s CEOs in Washington, DC — with Cisco being one of the many companies represented. Cisco has always had a strong presence in Washington and the same is true for most Roundtable companies. Individually, we all use our voices on issues that are important to our specific businesses and industries. However, Business Roundtable is focused on a broader set of issues and public policies that are overwhelmingly important to driving economic growth and creating opportunities for all Americans.

Q: How long have you been a member of Business Roundtable?

A: I joined the Roundtable in 2015 and served as Chair of its immigration policy committee from January 2018 through December 2020, during which time I also served on the Board.

Q: What is Cisco’s core business and how might most American consumers know you?

A: When you think about Cisco historically, you most likely think of us as the company that helped build out and power the Internet with our core networking products.

The networks we have built over the last several decades serve as the critical infrastructure for organizations around the world. With this as the foundation, we also deliver cybersecurity, observability and collaboration solutions that not only connect and protect these organizations and their data but can allow them to seamlessly adopt new technologies to deliver amazing experiences. Take AI as an example. As the world adopts AI, Cisco plays a critical role in building out the secure infrastructure required to support this.

In the simplest of terms, we help our customers securely connect everything to make anything possible.

Q: Why is it important for business to have a collective voice in Washington?

A: The Roundtable’s membership includes more than 200 CEOs of America’s largest employers. Speaking with one collective voice through the organization allows us to have a louder megaphone and a bigger impact. In Washington, that helps us advocate most effectively for policies to strengthen the economy and expand opportunity.

Q: What is the most urgent policy issue for Business Roundtable CEOs this year?

A: One of the biggest issues we’re urging Congress to act on is on the “tax extenders” that are expiring or have expired, including immediate R&D expensing. Today, due to the expiration of that provision, U.S. R&D expenses must be capitalized and amortized over five years. This change has led to a hefty tax hike on many companies, including Cisco. For example, Cisco spends more than $6 billion on R&D annually. So, the U.S. should want companies to continue to add R&D in country versus looking abroad. If this became a permanent expiration, then the U.S. would be incenting companies to actually add R&D in foreign countries as opposed to here. And that’s definitely not what we want for America’s economic growth.

We’re talking about trying to ensure that we remain competitive with companies from other countries all around the world, many of which have various incentives and support from their governments. We need to make sure American companies are as innovative. This is the same issue with regulatory overreach. We need to make sure that this country, and the companies in the U.S., can compete around the world — particularly with some of our foreign competitors that have a great deal of support from their governments.

Q: What do you see as the most consequential policy debates during your tenure as Business Roundtable Chair?

A: We need to ensure American businesses remain globally competitive because the strength of our economy and the well-being of every American depends on that. Competitiveness begins with maintaining and improving our pro-growth tax system. In addition to the tax policies that have already expired or are being phased out, we expect other aspects of our pro-growth tax system to come under pressure as we head into 2025. We cannot revert to a tax system that puts America’s businesses behind the eight ball in the global economy. We will also be advocating for ways to improve our workforce development system, prevent burdensome regulations and advance new, high-standard trade agreements.



Business Roundtable

Business Roundtable is an association of CEOs of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy.