Working on a movie set is not typically part of the job description for a Cisco technical marketing engineer. So, I was pleasantly surprised when, back in October, an invitation popped in my inbox to spend a couple of days in Budapest on the set of the latest Matt Damon movie. I was asked to help build some video conferencing systems, which were to be used in the movie, but I would’ve been happy to even get coffee for the movie’s world-renowned director, Ridley Scott.
The plot, as we can tell from the trailer, finds Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) stranded and alone on Mars, and presumed dead by NASA. He must figure out how to survive on the hostile planet and to signal Earth that he is alive. It’s only 140 million miles away, but that’s no problem for our video conferencing technology, I thought. Already, I had found a way to be an integral part of this story: Tobias Brodtkorb, video conferencing TME to the rescue.
My active imagination immediately started working on ways I could land a role. I could help Matt build a video conferencing system from scratch, or as a last resort, sneak my way into the background as an extra. As it turns out, neither scenario panned out, since they were not planning to start filming until a week after I had installed the Cisco systems. So, I did not see any celebrities, but I did take a picture of myself next to a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Matt Damon. But that’s not the end of my brush with fame.
Kristin Wiig’s character, Annie Montrose, has a call with the NASA jet propulsion lab using Cisco video conferencing.
I worked on several sets in Budapest. The first was a modern glass building with steel structures. This was going to act as NASA’s mission control on Earth. It was really impressive to see the amount of work required to prepare a film set. Here, I set up an MX300 room conferencing system and installed ten DX80 desktop video units. Off to the next location at Korda studios, which is in the countryside west of Budapest. It was almost surreal: a big, modern facility in the middle of nowhere. Outside, they had different themed back lots — medieval, New York, Renaissance and what looked like something from central Europe WW2. They looked completely real on one side, but only were empty shells with scaffolding and planks on the back.
Cisco DX80 desktop collaboration system in call with with Kristin Wiig’s character, Annie Montrose, at NASA HQ.
After nosing around a bit, it was time to be productive. We unpacked and installed the MX700 and MX800, Cisco’s large room video conferencing systems. At that point, a small group of people walked past. It seemed like a tour of the prop room for some VIPs. I heard the guide mention Cisco, gesturing in our direction. I was sure he was referring to the debonair TME who could assist Matt Damon in making contact with Earth. After the entourage left, one of the guys helping us asked, “Did you know who that was?” Clearly, I did not, and it was definitely not Matt Damon, but possibly even more impressive by Hollywood standards: It was Ridley Scott, himself. Here was my chance!
As I suspected, Mr. Scott (or should I say Ridley, now that we are friends) would immediately spot raw talent when he saw it, because he came back and sought me out. Well, I couldn’t convince him to give me a part in the movie, but I did give him a run-down of the MX800. He was really impressed with the video quality and that the unit was able to automatically track people based on their voice. I was especially proud of the products, myself; they were beautiful and fit in perfectly with the sleek, space-aged environment of the set.
So, that was another day in the life of a Cisco video TME, and one that I will remember for a long time. I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent Cisco and our products in such a special environment and setting. And Ridley, if you read this, please remember to call me when you’re planning the lead actor in Gladiator 2.
P.S. As it often happens in the movies, the MX systems got left on the cutting room floor, but keep an eye out for our DX80s when you go see the movie (opening in theaters October 2, 2015). There’s already a lot of Oscar buzz bantered about “The Martian.” Maybe the DX80s will get nominated for best prop or set dressing?
Tags: Cisco, collaboration, DX80, MX300, MX700, mx800, Ridley Scott, The Martian
Bipasha Chakrabarti has been a part of Cisco’s Public Relations team in India for almost five years now, and in that time she has loved getting to explore other facets of the company that have helped to grow and develop her career. Recently Bipasha was an Expand Your Boundaries Award Winner for Q3 – and the very first winner from Asia! Bipasha was awarded the opportunity to participate in a Stretch Assignment where she would have the option to spend one week with another team to see how they operated.
While she says many exciting choices were given to her, she decided to visit with the social media team in San Jose, CA, “I wanted to take my 14 years of PR experience and use this Stretch Assignment to go beyond public relations and explore another area of communications. As social media is an integral part of our worldwide communications strategy here at Cisco, I thought this was a great opportunity.”
During Bipasha’s time with the social media team she realized that they are a – team that focuses on so much more than what most think a social media specialist does.
“My stretch assignment really amplified my understanding of what this team does on a day-to-day basis to strategize, execute, and innovate for our social media communications. I really got to know them – how they operate, how their week looks, and how daily life is for them. I could see their level of expectations, and it adds to the understanding of how people think and collaborate,“ says Bipasha. “A stretch assignment helps you to broaden your boundaries as you learn global skills and understand the need for developing a network of relationships while also realizing how these skills can then translate into your current role and region.”
Bipasha has two learnings to share from her stretch assignment and offers these insights:
- Never be afraid to ask your managers to learn in new areas. “Cisco is a very open company, and they want you to explore your potential and grow. This is one of the many things that makes Cisco such a wonderful place to work – you are not restricted here, so take initiative to explore the other areas that interest you.”
- You can’t do it all. Focus on 2-3 things that will benefit your current role or your career path. Look at this experience through a lens that will better your career in 3-5 years
Bipasha is very proud to work for Cisco and for leaders who encourage her to grow, “This sort of culture within a company helps others to want to do their best. It is not just about doing your job well, our leadership team truly wants to support your success and growth and they give you the tools to empower that expansion.”
Tags: #WeAreCisco, Careers, Cisco, Cisco Employees, Stretch Assignment
The Grace Hopper Celebration Conference is upon us once in two weeks in Houston, Texas and Cisco is proud to be a Diamond Sponsor recognized as a leader in diversity and highlights our continuous commitment to increasing the impact of women in technology.
For the last 13 years, GHC has strived to bring together women technologists to help increase visibility of the valuable contributions of women in computing. This year the conference is expected to have grown to 11,000 attendees from last year’s 7,800 attendees. Inspired by the legacy of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women In Computing Conference was co-founded by Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney in 1994. The idea behind the conference was to catapult the research and career interests of women to the forefront and now it has become one of the world’s largest gatherings for women in computing.
Cisco’s goal of participating Read More »
Tags: Cisco, Diamond Sponsor, Female Engineers, GHC15, Grace Hopper Conference, leadership, Penelope, stem, women in engineering, women in tech
A little over a year ago, we began shipping Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).
Yesterday, Chuck Robbins tweeted that we hit our 1000th customer – Danske Bank, the largest financial institution in Denmark.
Our fast momentum and success with the Nexus 9000 (N9K) and ACI is largely due to our continued focus on customer needs – both now and well into the future. And our broad ecosystem of industry leaders has been and is committed to deliver integrated solutions for our mutual customers.
Just a little over three years ago, the team behind the N9K and ACI – Insieme Networks – began by listening to a variety of customers on what their business requirements were at the time and into the foreseeable future. What we learned is that modern enterprises were looking for an application-centric approach using open standards to deliver today’s business services.
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Tags: #CiscoACI, #ciscodatacenter, ACI, Application Centric Networking, Cisco, Cisco SDN, data center, innovation, nfv software defined network
You’ve heard us talk about the move from the Information Age to the digital age and how the rapid change associated with this movement will transform the way business is done at a global scale.
The primary driver for this revolution will be The Internet of Everything (IoE)—the next big phase of the Internet. Poised to generate over $19 trillion in value at stake for businesses and countries over the next decade, IoE encompasses shifts in computing such as big data, cloud, BYOD and mobility, and a new breed of software applications that will increasingly strain enterprise and service provider networks alike.
To become industry disruptors and take full advantage of the Internet of Everything, organizations will need to rethink how they do business. They will need to reimagine the role technology plays in their business and make it a strategic asset.
In my role as President of Cisco Capital, the captive finance business within Cisco, I speak with customers and partners globally of all sizes, across different markets and that have different business needs. In almost every conversation, a common challenge arises – how do they to do more with less and keep pace with technology innovation? It’s a good question, and one that doesn’t have a one-size-fits all answer.
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Tags: Cisco, cisco capital, financing, Internet of Everything, IoE