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Developing Local Talent in Technology

Instanbul is known for many things—impressive architecture, mouth-watering cuisine (in my humble opinion), rich cultural history, and so much more. That’s why I was particularly thrilled when I learned Cisco’s Middle Eastern Diversity and Inclusion (MEDI) group hosted a Developing Local Talent in Technology Workshop (DLTT) at the world’s third oldest technical university that focuses on engineering sciences, Istanbul Technical University.

With a particular emphasis on philanthropic and community outreach, MEDI hopes to increase technology awareness and enhance both technical and soft skills for local talent with the DLTT workshops. During this five-day workshop at Istanbul, 100 participants from education sector, public enterprises, and private companies were divided evenly into four groups. Each group focused on one track from DLTT’s curriculum each day. Imagine spending an entire day learning from network industry experts and discussing relevant topics of interest with like-minded peers on one of the four tracks—IP Telephony, Wireless, Network Security, and Professional Development. Three to four local Systems Engineers and Global Cisco volunteer instructors were assigned to each technical track on a rotational basis.

MEDI has been hosting workshops like this since 2009, so it’s little wonder how students and Cisco volunteers from all over the world who participated in DLTT responded to this well-put together and highly interactive program.

Cisco volunteers and students at MEDI's DLTT-Turkey workshop.

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Guilford meets Nairobi

It does not matter whether you are in Guildford or in Nairobi, it seems that it is never hard to get 10 and 11 year-old girls to chat. Recently I met about 30 of them over TelePresence, (Cisco’s high definition video conferencing). The aim of the meeting was to inspire them to consider careers in IT in the future and was designed to be a question and answer session. Having introduced myself and explained how I got into the IT industry many moons ago, the floor was all theirs.

 

Questions came flooding at me and the pressure was on to make a good impression. Despite the distance between them, I was immediately struck by the similarities of the girls – all in their smart school uniform, all  smiling at me and a few girls gave me a little wave. Their respective teachers introduced the schools and that was where the similarity ended. The girls in Nairobi were from a deprived slum area whilst the girls from Guildford were mainly middle class. The questions they asked however were very different. Yes I was asked the usual questions such as “How did I get into IT?” “Do I like my job?” “What do I do?” etc .  However the girls in Nairobi wanted to know how I got work, how long did it take me to get there, how many hours did I work and then they asked me probably the most poignant question of the session. “Does your technology help people in drug rehabilitation centres?”  Wow, that question was so telling on many levels! By the way I didn’t know the answer but was able to explain how our technology Healthpresence is enabling doctors and hospitals to see more patients remotely and is extending the reach of healthcare..  The question was also in stark contrast from one of the Guildford girls  who wanted to know  what was the colour of my toothbrush! The last question asked was “ What was my most prized possession?” No prizes for guessing which school asked this one but I hope both schools took a few minutes to think about my response. I said “ it is not a possession as such but my answer is my HEALTH”. 

I then left the meeting so the girls could get to know each other better. I felt very privileged to have taken part and very humbled by the girls in Nairobi. I cannot really imagine what their lives are like on a daily basis or whether or not I inspired them but I hope they left the session with something constructive to talk about! The meeting has certainly left it’s footprint on me, more so than I expected. The children were so similar in their openness, friendliness and willingness to participate. However the use of the Cisco office would have sheltered the girls from Guildford from the harsh reality their new friends from Nairobi face each day and would have made it difficult for them to really comprehend their differences. Hopefully this would have been a good thing – the real understanding that we are not that different from each other after all!

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Stand Up Against Bullying with Ben Cohen – Nov 9

“Every person on this planet has a right to be true to themselves, to love and be loved, and to be happy. I encourage others to stand up with me and make a difference,” says Ben Cohen of Stand Up Foundation.

Ben Cohen

The Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation, Inc. is the world’s first foundation dedicated to raising awareness of the long-term, damaging effects of bullying, and funding those doing real-world work to stop it. The foundation’s mission is to stand up against bullying for any reason. Because Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered (GLBT) people are often targeted by bullies, the foundation gives particular attention to this community. Removing homophobia from sports is also a central part of the mission.

The Cisco Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Advocates (GLBT&A) Employee Resource Group(ERG), together with the Cisco Disabilities Awareness Network ERG, are bringing Ben to the Cisco San Jose campus on Wednesday, Nov 9 at 3pm as part of Cisco’s Inclusion & Diversity Speaker series.

Ben Cohen is an England Rugby World Cup champion, and among the world’s greatest athletes. He ranks second in all-time scoring for England, and he’s the first straight professional athlete to focus his philanthropic efforts for the benefit of the GLBT community. He is also clinically deaf.

Bullying in our schools is a real problem. It disrupts the classroom and Read More »

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Comment is Free

Declared a newspaper editor, at the turn of the last Century. Little could he have known that 100 years on , the press would be read online by millions and that comments, made by its readers, would increasingly become a clear indicator of the success – or not – of the content.

If you’re anything like me, it’s the articles, reviews and features that create the most discussion, that are the most interesting.

Whenever I log onto a news site, I’m drawn to the articles that have generated most comment. And more often than not, I’ll even skip to the comments section, before I’ve finished reading the full article.

The online Economist, ranks all articles according to the number of comments received. The print edition will give you a list of articles as they appear in the magazine. Read it online, however, and you will know at one glance that last week’s piece on Germany’s role in supporting the European economy received more than 1800 reactions, thoughts, ideas and suggestions from people all around the world.

Guess which article I read first?

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Turning energy, talent and passion into success

While we can’t expect a medal-winning performance every day or to excel at everything we do, we can discover our natural talents, where our strengths lie and what we’re truly passionate about. Read More »

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