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What empowers you to Be Fearless? #CiscoChat

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It’s inevitable that at some point in our lives, whether it’s personally or professionally, we all have and will experience fear. It’s a part of life we can’t avoid; however, how we face these fears without being crippled by them and how we triumph forward is what counts.

On Thursday, February 26, 2015, 9-10:00am PST, we will be hosting a #CiscoChat on behalf of the Women of Impact team to discuss what empowers women to Be Fearless. Joining the TweetChat will be Catalina Kowal from Cisco’s Empowered Women’s Network, Cindy Cooley from Cisco’s Men for Inclusion, and Barbara Koch from the Passion Project. Join us to discuss how being fearless isn’t really about eliminating fear from our everyday lives completely, but more about finding ways to make our fears not hinder us from being adventurous, from taking risks, from getting up after we fall down, or from being our own advocates. This is an important conversation to explore Read More »

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Women of Impact’s 2015 Fearless Female: Monique Morrow

Roxanne Edwards

Guest Blog 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 Monique Morrow CTO, Cisco Services now First CTO-Evangelist-New Frontiers for Development-Engineering and one of our Fearless Females being featured for the Women of Impact conference on March 19th.

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Who is Monique Morrow?  Besides being the first CTO for Cisco Services and being named the first Distinguished Read More »

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Be Fearless – Women of Impact Conference 2015

Guest Blog collaboratively written by Leena Maasarani, Barbara Koch, Gina Cascio and Rehana Rehman.

What comes to mind when you think of Being Fearless? Perhaps you envision a person with strength, with courage maybe a risk taker or someone with strong convictions? The list is endless and that image is strikingly clear, however do we really know how to invest in ourselves to Be Fearless?

There have been many people like Emma Watson, Sheryl Sandberg and our very own Padmasree Warrior who have charged forward to champion the rights of women personally and in the workplace, cultivating young girls’ interest in STEM or simply encouraging the pursuit of a career in technology.  Not only do they embody the idea of being fearless, but also they have trail blazed for other women so that we can all collectively stand out. Padmasree has previously shared in a Huff Post article,

“NMSI reports that men over age 25 held 87 percent of bachelor’s degrees in engineering fields. Only 23 percent of workers in STEM-related jobs are women, yet women make up 48 percent of workers in all occupations. The higher you go on the corporate ladder, the lower these numbers become. According to a report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women held just 9 percent of IT management positions and accounted for only 14 percent of senior management positions at Silicon Valley startups.”

With this astounding statistic, we need to come together and invest in that change by Being Fearless. At Cisco, there are countless programs, groups and collaboration across different teams to help bring forth this kind of change and we want to introduce you to an event that plans to do exactly that.

We are incredibly fortunate to be part of a team of dedicated and driven women collaborating towards leading a full day conference devoted to the development and advancement of professional women. The Women of Impact Conference is the consolidation of two of Cisco’s premier women’s events: International Women’s Day and the Women in Tech Forum.  The conference attendees will come away with useful knowledge for their career development and advancement and an expanded network of professional allies.  This is a Cisco event with invited participation from partners and customers. Attendees will be women at Cisco, their male supporters and allies as well as partners and customers.

WOI 2015

The pace of change and innovation is accelerating faster than ever before; creating a new approach to the way we work, live, play and learn. Our focus this year 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.

  • Connect: Expand your network of professional allies and mentors across functions and ecosystems
  • Develop: Come away with useful knowledge for career development and personal growth
  • Inspire: Interact and hear from role models who personify what it takes to Be Fearless

With that focus in mind, we will provide diverse panel discussions with thought leaders, practical workshops led by industry experts, structured networking sessions with peers and management and insightful key notes from Cisco executive leaders.

Epitomizing the “Be Fearless” theme is this year’s WoI Passion Project, Dress A Girl Around the World, an extraordinary organization dedicated to helping girls living in poverty and at risk for human trafficking to discover their self-worth, beauty and dignity.  Cisco employees, partners and family members are coming together to connect, and show how much they care by creating one of a kind dresses that are as unique as each little girl.

Women of Impact is brought to you by:

  • Platinum Sponsors: Office of Inclusion & Collaboration (I&C)
  • Gold Sponsors: Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CEWN), Services Platforms Group (SPG)
  • Silver Sponsors:  Global Strategic Partner Organization (GSPO) and Chief Technology and Strategy Office (CTSO)
  • Partners: Connected Women, Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Men for Inclusion (MFI), Community Relations

Our busy lives will always be there, however it’s important to keep in mind that we need to connect, develop and inspire and to continue to invest in our futures and ourselves by being part of the change in the ratio of women in the workplace.

We would love for you to join us this year, on March 19th, where our theme is Be Fearless. Stay tuned for our featured Fearless Females blog stories in the upcoming weeks leading up to our conference.

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

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Everyday Heroes of Cisco Empowered Women’s Network: Denise Donohue

This post was written by Anuja Singh and Emily Griffin.

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

What better way to start the New Year than with a monthly Cisco Empowered Women’s Network series about role models in the technology industry? 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.


Welcome to ‘Carpe diem – Seize the day! Inspiration from everyday heroes of CiscoEWN’

To kick off our first post of the monthly series, we have an incredible guest – Denise Donohue.


Denise has worked with information systems since the mid-1990s and her expertise spans most technologies. She has authored numerous Cisco Press books and frequently shares her knowledge in webinars and seminars. Find out more about Denise.


Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CiscoEWN): You started your career as an economist with government agencies and here you are now – a senior network architect with some of the most difficult industry certifications under your belt. What happened along the way?

Denise: Life and kids happened! I quit my full time job to be a full time mom to my three kids. But along the way I started tinkering a little with home computers and found it interesting. I also have a background in education so I started working from home and franchised a business that brought computers to daycares and schools. When my husband lost his job and I had to go back to full time work, I considered returning to my comfort zone of economics and government. But that wasn’t where my heart lay – by then, I had grown to love computers.


CiscoEWN: What were some of your headwinds and tailwinds during this difficult transition?

Denise: I’m not sure I would advise anyone to juggle that many balls at the same time (smiles)– but if you have to do something, the only way is to jump in with both feet and do it. My headwinds at the time were intense – I was very guilty about leaving the kids; I was the weird person among the neighborhood stay-at-home moms peer group; the field I had chosen was very difficult and drained me physically and mentally – there were many days that I cried because I was exhausted and I missed the kids so much. But what kept me going was that despite the challenges I really enjoyed what I was doing and felt deep down that this is where I was supposed to be. I loved the technology, the new learning and meeting new people. Following my passion and trusting my gut were my mantras during that phase.


CiscoEWN: Following your passion is a great advice – but don’t you need a support system or some motivation to actually do it?

Denise: Absolutely! My family understood that it was finally my time to do what I had to do – and they shared responsibilities around housework and cooking dinners etc. Of course, there was a fair share of whining also – especially when I came down on Christmas day just for the gift-opening and then went right back to studying. So, for all of us, despite some basic support, you have to continue to motivate yourself and keep in sight why are you are doing something. Competition also helps. I had a colleague who got his CCNA and CCIE (Cisco certifications) before I did and he was gloating about it. That really lit a fire under me and my goal was to get my own certifications within a year after his.


CiscoEWN: You are the author of not one, not two – but twelve books! How did you persevere?

“…if you have an interest, a goal that you want badly enough – you can get it. And sometimes not knowing exactly what it takes to get there helps. Then you can focus on each step.”-Denise Donohue

Denise: (Laughing) I suffer from total amnesia about how hard it is. I guess that’s why I keep going back and doing it. Some of the books took six months; some took as many as a couple of years. I considered dropping the effort many times, but then I knew I had things I wanted to say and felt this was my way to give back to my community. It was my labor of love. I find that if you have an interest, a goal that you want badly enough – you can get it. And sometimes not knowing exactly what it takes to get there helps. Then you can focus on each step.


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

Denise: It took me a long time to understand that I should have faith in my judgment and myself. If I could speak to my younger self, I would tell her that she is good enough and smart enough and she should do what she needs to do with self-confidence. Also, I would tell her not to let resentment overcome her. At the time, I resented my husband’s job loss because it forced me out of my comfort zone. But time and my achievements have given me faith that there is a reason for the way things happen.

When CiscoEWN contacted me and asked if I was willing to be the first person featured in this series, I hesitated because I felt I didn’t have much to say that was out of the ordinary. I felt I was just doing what I do and it’s not all that special. But then my daughter said ‘Mom, you should do this. You have been my inspiration’. And that just meant so much to me – it gave me pause to look back and see how far I have come. I would tell my younger self that too.


CiscoEWN: Leave us with your favorite Carpe diem statement.

Denise: For people who are wondering what to do with their life, or are stuck, don’t be afraid to take a step. Chances are you can always step back if you need to. ‘You can only do what you can do – don’t feel bad about what you can’t do.’

Thank you Denise!



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An Incredible Week: Cisco Empowered Women’s Network at Cisco Live!

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This blog post was written by Priscila David in collaboration with Emily GriffinAnuja Singh and Rima Alameddine

Today. Tomorrow. Transformed. This was the theme of the second annual Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CiscoEWN) forum at Cisco Live. And what a great week of transformation it was, and a great way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cisco Live! Sorry for the long blog post, but it was an exciting week for us!

CiscoEWN is a global community of highly motivated, professional women, as well as a forum for Cisco customers, partners and employees to network and motivate one another at Cisco Live and in virtual and live events throughout the year. Our founders and Executive Sponsors highlight our goals for CiscoEWN at Cisco Live US in San Francisco this year:

CiscoEWN sponsored several activities during the week each of which gave the opportunity for women in technology and our male allies to gather together and network, learn from and empower each other.

We kicked off the week with the CiscoEWN Forum on Sunday, a four-hour event with a packed agenda of mentoring sessions, panels, and keynotes. Here’s a recap of the afternoon:

  • Over 450 men and women, including Cisco employees, customers and partners, attended (up from 250 attendees last year!).
  • 50 executive mentors shared life experiences and offered advice in an icebreaker mentoring session with attendees.

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  • Cisco President and COO Gary Moore shared his thoughts on why diversity and inclusion is important for business. 
  • Padmasree Warrior, Cisco CTSO, shared insights about her personal transformational journey. She asked the audience to reflect, Read More »

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