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Women of Impact’s 2015 Fearless Female: Esther Roure Vila

Roxanne EdwardsGuest Blog and Interview by Roxanne Edwards

At the Women of Impact Conference this year on March 19th, our focus is to empower attendees to Be Fearless – by taking risks, overcoming obstacles and blazing new trails in their personal and professional lives. The Conference focus is to connect, develop and inspire the women in technology at Cisco.

We have all been inspired by various individuals throughout the different stages of our lives. Esther, an Engineer on the Data Center solution team, has been motivated by admiring the examples set by others. As a matter of fact, Esther considers Monique Morrow, another Fearless Female nominee for the 2015 Women of Impact Conference, as someone she holds in very high regard.

Esther’s dedication to her profession has led her to be named as the European Digital Commission Woman of the Year. Esther holds many Read More »

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Women of Impact’s 2015 Fearless Female: Jyoti Sarin

Christine MorgnerGuest Blog and Interview by Christine Morgner

Jyoti’s life journey thus far defines the word FEARLESS. Jyoti’s mother had a huge impact throughout her life beginning in early childhood. As a retired Dean of Mathematics from a University in India, she was a well-regarded Professor of Mathematics and contributing author to the Master of Mathematics curriculum in India. All of Jyoti’s mom’s accomplishments were achieved because she never took “no” for an answer, even when it felt overwhelming or unachievable. She opposed family traditions prohibiting women from attaining a higher education and subsequently earned that opportunity for herself and her sisters. She viewed education as the foundation for progress and not only for herself, her sisters, her own kids, but of course for complete strangers too by supporting and financing education for household help and in low-income communities. Her acts of selfless pursuit of knowledge inspired Jyoti from childhood and instilled an obligation to carry forward the legacy. Jyoti says “I will always be an advocate for education. It is a legacy I choose to carry”.

Jyoti Sarin

Jyoti joined Cisco in 2006 and is currently a Senior Manager in IT leading a strong, 44-person team responsible for managing IT Innovation, Strategy, and Planning. Within the first one and a half years of her job in Cisco, she realized an opportunity for IT to grow as an innovation partner for the company. Jyoti took a fearless risk and re-wrote her own job description, leaving behind all that she was comfortable with and blazed a trail into the unknown. She inherited a small lab with 2 servers and a few resources which became the genesis of an Innovation and Research organization that today supports many revolutionary campaigns across the company. She believes that companies of tomorrow will be built upon the democratization of knowledge, decisions and work. Today, Jyoti’s organization is thriving and making a bigger impact on the company because of her FEARLESS actions. You can read about her leadership philosophy here.

In addition to her day job, Jyoti actively mentors and volunteers her time to help women who are early in their career. She is an active partner for the community relations team supporting their US2020 goals by hosting STEM related workshops. She is on the leadership board of ICON ERO and is a partner to other EROs such as Connected Women and CONEXION. It’s also through these relationships that Jyoti reinforces the same passion and value for education and “challenging the norm” instilled from her mother. In her free time, Jyoti enjoys painting, sketching, reading, nature/outdoors, and traveling with her family. She affectionately refers to herself as “artist by heart, geek by profession.”

Have you registered for the Women of Impact Conference yet? For more conference details or registration information, click here:

Read about our other #FearlessFemales here and check out our #BeFearless #CiscoChat on Twitter.

Share with us with your stories and pictures how you can Be Fearless, tweet us @Cisco_WOI or find and Like us on Facebook on the Cisco Empowered Women’s Network Facebook page! Don’t forget to use the #WOI2015 hashtag!

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Women of Impact’s 2015 Fearless Female: Kyoko Fujii

Roxanne EdwardsGuest blog and interview written by Roxanne Edwards

At the Women of Impact Conference this year on March 19th, our focus is to empower attendees to Be Fearless – by taking risks, overcoming obstacles and blazing new trails in their personal and professional lives. The Conference focus is to connect, develop and inspire the women in technology at Cisco.

A good manager cares about people and is always available to listen.  When Kyoko started her career 29 years ago as a Systems Engineer, she was lucky to have a good manager.  She was continually encouraged to step outside her comfort zone and challenged to do more.

With a Bachelors Degree in Literature and a major in Japanese history, Kyoko took a risk and became fearless as she entered Read More »

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Women of Impact’s 2015 Fearless Female: Jacintha Verdegaal

Roxanne EdwardsGuest blog and interview written by Roxanne Edwards

At the Women of Impact Conference this year on March 19th, our focus is to empower attendees to Be Fearless – by taking risks, overcoming obstacles and blazing new trails in their personal and professional lives. The Conference focus is to connect, develop and inspire the women in technology at Cisco.

Meet Jacintha Verdegaal, a Global Marketing Manager in London and one of our Fearless Females being featured for the Women of Impact conference on March 19th.

In today’s complex world of technology, Jacintha Verdegaal prides herself with the ability to translate complicated messages into marketing campaigns that appeal to her target audience.

She is also comfortable speaking in front of large groups, but this wasn’t always the case. After graduating cum laude from the University of Amsterdam, Read More »

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Everyday Heroes of Cisco Empowered Women’s Network: Sharon Sputz

This article was written by Anuja Singh.


Carpe diem – Seize the day! Inspiration from everyday heroes of Cisco Empowered Women’s Network

Welcome to our second edition of  Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CiscoEWN) Everyday Heroes. We all make resolutions and set goals to improve ourselves– but somewhere along the way, life interrupts our plans, we find ourselves juggling different priorities and invariably things get dropped. What you will find in this segment is inspiration from ordinary people who have achieved extraordinary results. Everyone featured in this series has faced challenges and opportunities that the rest of us can identify with; let’s draw inspiration from the choices they made and aspire to the outcomes they created.

We are honored to feature this month Sharon Sputz!


Sharon has combined experience in business strategy and technical research and after reinventing herself many times through her career; she now is doing some fascinating work in Data Sciences at Columbia University. Find out more about Sharon here.

CiscoEWN: You have held various positions in your career, but technology has been a common theme; how old were you when you discovered your passion for the field?

Sharon: I was always fond of Math and Science. When I was in middle school, I wanted to ensure that I went into 8th grade in the highest honors math track. Unfortunately, I did not do well in the placement test and was told that I couldn’t join that track. My parents knew how much it meant to me and spoke to the school to let me take the test again – but I still didn’t do well. I could have given up but I was so driven that my parents and I got the school to agree (at my own risk) to let me sit in the class. My math teacher was a formidable lady who ended up believing in my persistence – her faith in me made me strive harder and I ended up going to college for medicine.


Cisco EWN: Medicine? Did I miss that in your bio?
Sharon: We all choose a path but sometimes things change – how we accept those changes and make what we can out of them determines our tenacity and character. I lost my way a little in freshman year of a pre-med program – there were some health issues, some peer pressure issues and I ended up thinking that I wasn’t good enough to continue down the medical path. But thankfully, I had a very strong foundation from high school and I was doing very well in the physics courses I was taking. I am grateful again to have professors who cared enough to call if one didn’t show up for class and I thrived in the rigor of Quantum physics. That’s when I knew that I loved physics and research and would rather pursue that field. That decision gave me the foundation for how life turned out.



CiscoEWN: What would you write in a letter to your younger self?

Sharon: Life is a journey, it’s not about getting from point A to point B. Have patience and don’t rush. You can make each day more fulfilling by increasing the balance in your life. When we are young we tend to think that we are entitled to success – but only hard work and persistence enable us to remove each rock from our way. Success doesn’t come instantly so don’t give up.


CiscoEWN: You spent 13 years in Bell labs as a research scientist with world-renowned physicists; produced revolutionary patents; went to school at night to get your Masters; and had two children. How did you do it?

Sharon: (Laughing) I don’t really know. I just did what needed to be done and looking back I don’t really know where the energy came from. Those were also challenging years because there were hardly any women or minorities working in research but I never felt conscious and never let that impact me. Instead I saw tremendous opportunity and worked hard and didn’t let the difficult environment stand in my way. Juggling everything was hard and I am fortunate I had my family, husband, community of working women and friends who supported each other and me.


CiscoEWN: And then, when you were at the top of your game, you quit and joined Lucent in a marketing job. Did you have any marketing skills?

Sharon: No, and I didn’t think about it either. It was a huge change but I was joining a field (Telecom) that was booming and would make me grow in ways that I couldn’t have grown had I kept doing only research. I also got a confidence boost when I saw that if you were willing to work hard and learn and problem solve then people are willing to take their chances on you and train you. I rolled up my sleeves, read a lot, learned from mentors on the job and because it was a technical marketing job, I was able to leverage my scientific training and differentiate myself.

“Life is a journey. Celebrate each moment. Don’t be in a rush to get from Point A to Point B.”

-Sharon Sputz


CiscoEWN: Since then, you have taken the risk of reinventing yourself twice more – first as a defense contractor working on DOD projects, and now at Columbia University as an educator. Do you have any self-doubt as you set about proving yourself anew each time?

Sharon: Everyday – I think about how I can do my job better, how can I push myself harder? I wouldn’t call it self-doubt, but I always question if I am doing all I can. And when I am given the opportunity to reinvent myself, I am so grateful that someone took a chance on me, gave me the chance to learn and grow, that I work harder to live up to their faith in me.

I was 51 when Columbia University approached me; my first reaction was to decline the opportunity. But education and my teachers have had such a huge impact on my life, I felt this was my opportunity to impact other people and give back. While I have never felt that being a woman has held me back, I enjoy the opportunity to enable other women coming into an academic environment and encourage them to pursue any opportunity without impediments.


CiscoEWN: Leave us with your favorite Carpe diem statement.

Sharon: Life doesn’t always go the way you think it’s going to go. While it’s important to persist and believe in yourself and go after your dreams, it’s also ok for those dreams to change. Celebrate each dream and make the most out of it.


Thank you Sharon!


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