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A human working culture

We’ve all done it, squeezed a meeting into a colleague’s last remaining gap for a lunch break, or set a conference call for an unsociable hour. Yet we’ve also all been the victim of such logistical moves. Because the problem is, in a mega-busy global working environment like ours, we increasingly accept that this sort of thing is normal and needs to happen, so we can all get everything done.

And perhaps at times it does, but not without considering if there are other possible options and not without asking.

Politeness aside, how many of us properly acknowledge the priorities each other has outside of the office, those priorities which help shape the people we are and often conflict with the demands of our working lives. How many of us raise an eyebrow at the person who leaves to go to the gym, or the parent who goes because of childcare issues. We even sometimes fail to acknowledge the shame of a colleague missing a family celebration because of work demands.

These issues comes up a lot but I think we could all be part of changing what is regularly seen as acceptable and just the norm. We could all speak up when meetings are set at anti-social times; share our human selves as well as our work selves to create a human culture where other commitments are given due credit, time and appreciation.

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In lieu of a twin

I love using Open Minds to profile remarkable people whose achievements can’t help but enthrall us all. Often they’re people with backgrounds or characteristics that mean they’re wrongly overlooked, or certainly not nurtured to their full potential.

Not so, the incredible 9-year old twins, Peter and Paula Imafidon, who are the youngest children in the highest-achieving family in the history of Great Britain’s education system. They made history as the youngest students ever to enter high school and astounded veteran experts of academia when they became the youngest ever to pass the University of Cambridge’s advanced mathematics exam.

With a set of older super-gifted siblings in the Imafidon family too, it’s not surprising they’ve been asked if they share a ‘genius gene’. “Not so”, came the reply of Chris Imafidon, the children’s father. He credits his children’s success to the UK’s Excellence in Education program for disadvantaged inner city children.

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Inclusion and Diversity Best Practice: How Diversity Powers Innovation

We read a lot about how diversity powers innovation but the other day I was on a call where I saw this with my own eyes. Cisco’s Global Inclusion and Diversity team have introduced monthly meetings for their Ambassadors called “Diverse Conversations” whereby they take a very real I&D topic and encourage the group to discuss. Read More »

Disability and Technical Expertise from Cisco interns

“When I first got here, the [intern] orientation was talking about all business stuff…supply chain..and I’m a computer science major, and I was thinking, uh-oh, I’m in the wrong place.” Kelley Duran said as we settled down to talk about her internship here at Cisco.  Her classmate Samuel Sandoval had the same reaction: Honestly, I thought I was in [the] wrong group since I’m in IT [information technology]”

Internships are a great way for students to make the connection between their studies and the business world.  Combining education with practical application through internships means an easier transition into the workforce after college.  Even better is when education and personal expertise are both channeled into the right internship.

Kelley and Samuel are studying Computer Science and Information Technology respectively at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. I sat down with Kelley, Samuel and their Cisco mentor Shraddha Chaplot to get their thoughts on how to create a successful internship program for college students with hearing disabilities.


Samuel Sandoval, Shraddha Chaplot and Kelley Duran spell Cisco in American Sign Language at Cisco Headquarters

Internship Projects

Samuel and Kelley interned for 11 weeks in Cisco’s Software Engineering Accessibility team.  The Cisco Accessibility team is focused on ensuring Cisco products are accessible and usable by people with disabilities, whether by design or through compatible use with assistive technology.

Samuel worked as a lead developer for real time text chat on the Read More »

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The Year in Retrospect–Perspective of a New Hire

It seems like only a year ago when I stepped in the Cisco office as a new hire fresh out of college. Oh wait, it was just a year ago when all this happened. Time flies when work is never dull and learning seems never-ending. I can go on and on about all the lessons I learned, awesome projects I got to witness and work on, the supportive team I work with, etcetera etcetera. Instead of writing a 365-page book documenting my adventures at Cisco (a page a day is an underestimation by the way), I’ll summarize the top three things I learned at Cisco.

1. Don’t be afraid to make your ideas heard:
I don’t know about you, but when I first started, approaching a colleague, manager, or director with a new idea seemed more intimidating than jumping off an airplane 5,000 feet above the ground in a sky diving lesson. Mind you, I have a serious case of acrophobia (read: fear of heights). When you’re new, everyone else is more senior than you, has more experience under the belt, knows more about the ins and outs of Cisco, and need I say more? The idea of bringing a new idea to the table seems almost ridiculous.

“Someone must have come up with the idea before.”
“What if they say no?”
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