Cisco has lost another high-ranking executive, as Microsoft last week named Laura Ipsen as corporate vice president of its Worldwide Public Sector organization.

Ipsen had been Cisco's senior vice president and general manager of Connected Energy, the business unit responsible for the company's smart grid utility networking strategy, an opportunity Cisco once identified as a $20 billion (£12 billion) market.

At Microsoft, Ipsen will lead the company's sales and marketing organisation serving government, public safety and national security, education and non-privatised healthcare customers in more than 100 countries. Before heading the Connected Energy Networks business unit at Cisco, Ipsen had managed the company's Global Policy and Government Affairs division.

Ipsen had been at Cisco since 1995.

Cisco has not yet named a replacement, but Marthin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco's Video and Collaboration Group, is heading up Connected Networks in the interim. At Microsoft, Ipsen will report to Susan Hauser, corporate vice president of the Worldwide Enterprise & Partner Group.

Before joining Cisco, Ipsen worked in government affairs and international trade for Hitachi Data Systems, Acer and PricewaterhouseCoopers. She is currently a board member of Monsanto and of the GridWise Alliance, and previously served as board chair of both the Information Technology Industry Council and the Organisation of Women in International Trade.

Several high ranking and visible executives have left Cisco over the past year as the company grappled with a restructuring that attempted to cut a lot of the fat after too many acquisitions took it into too many non-essential markets.

Among them were Daniel Scheinman, senior vice president and general manager of the Cisco Media Solutions Group, Jonathan Kaplan, head of Cisco's consumer operations and Enrique Rodriguez, head of Cisco's Service Provider Video Technology Group.