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Jumping the Curve: The Simmons Leadership Conference

I recently attended the annual Leadership Conference, sponsored by Simmons College, considered to be the world’s premier professional development event for women. This year’s theme was “Jumping the Curve,” stepping away from the familiar and stepping up to the unknown.

While I have been engaged with the conference for the past several years, I find each year’s experience to be something special and I continue to be humbled and inspired by the journeys of many of the participants. I wanted to share some of the ideas that stuck with me. The following advice may not be new, but I find it worth repeating – and relevant to women and men. 

  • Don’t be afraid to take risks:  With every new endeavor, you’ll gain new experiences and expand your network. Along the way, you’re likely to gain new sponsors and potential advocates.
  • Invest in networking:  Stay connected with your professional and personal contacts. And when you connect and collaborate, if you serve as mentor or mentee, be sure to be clear on objectives to foster a successful relationship.
  • Dare to compete:  Be confident in your abilities, and don’t be afraid to step into the ring. Keynote speaker Hilary Clinton addressed this keenly, noting that male colleagues are more likely to raise their hands regardless of qualifications.
  • Be patient and adapt quickly:  The very funny and talented Rita Moreno spoke from experience as a successful entertainer who overcame years of struggle against Hollywood typecasting. She reminded us that success rarely comes overnight—there are many struggles to overcome, and we must be flexible to succeed.
  • Don’t just judge; act with purpose:  We all harbor some unconscious bias toward others, and that can affect our actions. Instead of judging, listen actively and take action on what you can control and change. As Gandhi once said, “Be careful of your thoughts, for they become your words.  Be careful of your words, for they become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for they become your legacy.”

These points of advice can serve us well if we put them into practice, but just how do we do that?
Please take a moment to share your strategies for jumping the curve in the comments section, or continue the discussion on Twitter.

Learn more about Cisco Careers and Cisco’s Inclusion and Diversity program.

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How to set up a Reverse Mentoring Program in 10 Steps

In 2011, I wrote a blog called “The Results: How Reverse Mentoring Can Enhance Diversity and Inclusion”. The blog described the benefits, the lessons learned and the most popular areas to mentor from a Reverse Mentoring Program I led at Cisco.

Since publishing this blog, I’ve been touched by the number of people who have reached out to me, both from within Cisco and outside of Cisco from other companies, to find out more about how to set up a successful Reverse Mentoring program. Their interest inspired me to write this blog on 10 simple steps you can use to set up a Reverse Mentoring Program. Read More »

Veterans Corporate Technology Day 2013

Video featuring Cisco employees sharing their experiences transitioning out of the military into the civilian workforce

Veterans Corporate Technology Day (VCTD) at Cisco Systems will take place this year on Thursday, November 7, 2013.  The day brings U.S. military personnel, spouses and caregivers to Cisco campuses and exposes them to available resources as they potentially transition to the civilian workforce.   Events will be hosted at the following locations:

  • Cisco San Antonio, Texas and Brook Army Medical Center (20 Vets)
  • Cisco Research Triangle Park, North Carolina  and Ft Bragg (100 Vets)
  • Cisco Englewood, Colorado and Ft Carson and local Air Force entities  (25 Vets)
  • Cisco San Jose, California (50 Vets)
  • Cisco Herndon, Virginia (100 Vets)

The multi-site event introduces mentorship programs and educational resources.  To register, Read More »

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Working Mother Magazine Recognizes Cisco and Ileana Rivera

We are extremely proud to announce that Cisco has been recognized by Working Mother magazine’s prestigious 2013 100 Best Companies list.  For five consecutive years we have appeared on this sought-after list,  and this year we’re extremely proud to announce that Ileana Rivera, Senior Director at Cisco and IT Regional leader for Latin America, has been named as Working Mother of the Year in the same publication.

Ileana is responsible for managing all IT related client interactions for the Product Sales and Services Sales organizations and to the overall user community in Latin America.  Her main areas of responsibility include: User Experience support, Service Capability enablement, IT leadership, and Customer Engagements across Latin America. Ileana has more than 13 years of experience in the life science/medical device industry, and has been with Cisco for the last 5 years.

On the topic of being a working mother, Ileana says, “Being a working mother is the art of multitasking! Your mind is always running faster than your actions, you are always Read More »

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My Experience at the Commemoration of MLK’s I Have a Dream Speech

Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama

Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama

It is with much excitement that I write this blog post – a first for me – on the Cisco Inclusion and Diversity blog.  On August 27th I traveled from San Jose, CA to Washington D.C. to attend the 50th anniversary and commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic I Have a Dream speech held at the Lincoln Memorial.  Hopefully, many of you were able to watch the event, as it was truly a wonderful celebration of Dr. King’s legacy.  What I want to share with you is what I experienced being there on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 – standing in line at 7:00 am, through the event’s conclusion that afternoon.

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Standing in line all morning really paid off! We got great seats!

I arrived at the gate to the entrance of the event for individuals with tickets right around 7:00 am.  There were only a few of us there – myself, a group of what appeared to be three friends, a woman who was alone, and volunteers that were beginning to file in in white shirts and khaki pants. I immediately asked security if I was at the correct location and showed him my ticket.  He replied that I was in the right place, and that I should stand in line until they started letting people into the event at 9:00 am.

During the two hour wait I learned that one of the women in line was named Mo.  Mo was beaming with joy. It was Mo’s birthday, and she said there was no place she would rather be than at this event.  Two of the others in line were Andrea and Donna.  Andrea is a PhD student, and Donna is her friend – they sing in the church choir together.

In time we all began to talk – about from where we’d traveled, why we’d come, about trying to stay dry in the rain… It did start to rain, but we barely noticed.  Soon the press began to arrive.  There was a small group of female reporters standing close to us. They were from a radio station in Nassau, Bahamas, GEMS 105.9. The stations website promotes “Strengthening our WOMEN, and uplifting our MEN”.  One of the station’s DJ’s – Ghandi- asked if she could interview us, and asked each of us why we were there.  My response – “ I am a woman, I am black, I am a mother, and I work in Inclusion and Diversity.  Equal rights are always top of mind for me.  I am here to celebrate the work and sacrifices made by Dr. King and countless others involved in the civil rights movement.  I am here to reflect on the progress that has been made over the past 50 years.  I am here because Read More »

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