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On the Floor at Grace Hopper 2015

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Heading into a conference, you never know what to expect. Heading in to my very first Grace Hopper Celebration conference, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m relatively new to Cisco, and I knew that we were there to show our talent for disruption. What I didn’t count on was seeing up close a side of Cisco that the world may not know about.

The trade show doors swung open on Wednesday evening at 5pm, and the crowd of women in tech – thousands deep – rushed in to scout out the booths, epic swag, and network. There were at least 15 attendees from Cisco there to welcome them with open arms. As someone who was all but raised in Orlando, Florida I can tell you that the equivalent to this experience is Disney World on Christmas Day. As far as the eye could see? A crowd existed. Everywhere you turned? There was someone to reach out to and talk with. Opportunity was everywhere.

In addition to some powerful motivation from key speakers (including a NASA Astronaut!) the highlight for me was meeting former Cisco interns, prospective Cisco interns, current Cisco employees (including these strong women!) and friendly faces from other companies who admired what Cisco was doing.

We were there to inspire these women in tech to reach new heights. One of the conference slogans was “Our time to lead” and you could not only see the excitement, but feel it. In the midst of the action, was where you could find the Cisconians. The booth glowed, literally and figuratively, and everyone was buzzing about just how awesome Cisco represented.

Casie Shimansky at Grace Hopper.

Casie Shimansky at Grace Hopper.

This is Cisco?!” a former Cisco intern admired, “This is incredible!” She turned to a friend, “I’m so proud of them!” and then turned again to show me her Cisco backpack, “I loved interning with you guys!”

Maybe she hadn’t yet learned what I knew. That Cisco has a new passion for disruption and for showing up differently. A passion for making sure women in tech have a voice in the industry. And the “cool” factor of a new CEO, a new leadership team, and a renewed excitement by employees.

Our booth was an eye-catcher filled with clean whites, brilliant blues, and a warm, bright feel. We featured a glowing statue, which we affectionately call “Penelope” as a representation of our strong tech-savvy women. Executive meet and greets and Innovation Cafes featuring Cisco’s many specialties from IOT and even a WebEx session with employees that couldn’t be there in person also kept the energy sky-high. We were also designing customized screen printed t-shirts onsite with a little help from our friends at the OMG Bus out of Houston, Texas.

At any conference, bringing a “swag bag” is a good idea, because there are giveaways everywhere. But the swag at the Cisco booth was what everyone seemed over the moon about. Those customized screen printed tshirts drew lines sometimes an hour and a half long. But no one seemed to mind. While standing in line (which attendees said was “worth it!”) many continued to network with new people.

We were there to inspire these young women, but you know what? They inspired me. And Cisco inspired me all over again.

I’ve worked for a lot of great companies before Cisco, and yet I’ve never had an experience quite like this one. Everyone I spoke to between Wednesday night, and even waiting for my flight back to Orlando Friday evening (as women from the conference spotted my Cisco t-shirt), had some out-of-this-world praise for us. The company pride I felt for Cisco put me on cloud nine for days, and I think it helped us to make a lot of new friendships for the future.


Interested in joining Cisco’s future? Check out our open positions!

Miss some of the GHC action? You can see highlights from this Storify.

We also shared our experience from the floor on Instagram! Give us a follow.

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What it Takes to Be a Digital Predator and Not Become Digital Prey

For organizations looking to take advantage of the wave of digital disruption that’s sweeping industries on a global scale, getting into the heads of their customers is probably the best place to start.

With tech trends like social, mobile, cloud and Big Data converging, organizations who want to remain competitive are in a race to adapt to the new realities of digital disruption. A March, 2015 Forrester Research Inc. report, “Digital Predator or Digital Prey?” has shed new light on what these trends can mean for business vitality, serving as a wake-up call for organizations.

According to the in-depth report, by 2020, every business will become either a digital predator, able to achieve digital mastery and create new value sources for customers or digital prey, industry “dinosaurs” who’ve adapted too late or not all – eventually becoming extinct. And though many industries have gotten ahead of the trend, others are woefully behind, remaining static in an Internet of Everything-connected world that simply flows around them.

Interestingly, research conducted through the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an IMD and Cisco initiative, revealed that 45 percent of companies don’t see digital disruption as a subject worthy of board-level attention. And another third of respondents have adopted a “wait-and-see” approach to decide whether or not they will re-examine their end-to-end customer approach in regards to digital.

Forrester’s Nigel Fenwick, co-author of the Digital Predator or Prey report, joined me as a guest of our Future of IT Podcast series to discuss this and more.

Future of IT Podcast: Digital Transformation- Digital Predator or Digital Prey from Cisco Business Insights

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Join the Conversation: Where Shopping Experience Meets the New Digital Consumer

The demands of increasingly mobile and digital consumers are creating unprecedented complexity for retailers and brands.  How should retailers respond?  We’re going to tackle this question together on Twitter next Tuesday, October 27 at 1pm EST/ 10am PST.

Together, we’ll discuss questions such as:

  • Who is the new “digital consumer”?
  • What does the future of retail look like through the lens of digital technologies?
  • What have you learned about the behaviors and expectations of the digital shopper?
  • What is the role of security in retail?
  • Why “trust” is key in winning wallet share of the digital shopper?

It’s always been my experience that the best ideas emerge from a combination of people with different viewpoints, areas of expertise, and experiences.  That’s one reason I’m (@anabellepinto) looking forward to being part of the next #CiscoChat with my colleague, Ron Kjelden (@rkjelden), focused on how retailers can create shopping experiences that meet the demands of the new digital consumer. Read More »

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Bring the Industrial Revolution to your Oracle Workloads (Learn More by Stopping at Booth 801 at OOW 2015)

When I think of how technology has changed in the data center, I am always reminded of the history of the industrial revolution.  Wikipedia begins its definition and description of the industrial revolution in these words: “The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines … and the rise of the factory system.”* Wikipedia goes onto say: “The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way”*

The industrial revolution reminds me of a strong metaphor between the productivity benefits of abstracting all attributes of UCS Servers in software (UCS Manager, UCS Central, UCS Director) and the assembly line of the industrial revolution.  This historical analogy helps illustrate and underscore how much customers can benefit from a switch to Cisco UCS servers.   The historical parallel between these two changes in producing goods (industrial revolution) and the provisioning and deploying servers (UCS Manager/ UCS Central/UCS Director) (producing server images in software) is striking on many levels.


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Cisco Mentors Fuel the Future of New Hires


Before becoming CEO of Cisco, Chuck Robbins was Head of Sales. Even then he saw employees as the key to Cisco’s success, and met a few new hires at a Women of Impact Event. These women expressed some concerns about their futures at Cisco, and he jumped in to help, by asking for some leaders in the company to become mentors to these new hires.

Juli signed up for the challenge. That’s how she met Angela Tessin who was an Analyst on the IT Service Management team.

“Angela had so much runway to her career, she just needed to see that and build the confidence,” Juli notes. “Just within that first meeting there was noticeable change in her from how she entered to how she left. She left really excited, hopeful, and optimistic knowing that there was a promising future for her here!”

“Juli helped me to see that not only was there room for tremendous growth at Cisco, but that I had her support and the support of others to utilize and grow my skills,” says Angela.

From there, Juli helped Angela identify where she wanted to go in her career, what skills would be needed for those roles, and how to work on reaching her goals. “As her mentor, I’ve been able to show Angela that women here at Cisco have the opportunity to work in a variety of areas – no one is pigeonholed here, and everyone has the ability to move around and gain experience.”

Angela says that Juli has shared so many stories and experiences with her from her own career that have helped enlighten her. “Juli encourages me and challenges me, there’s a lot of thought that goes into being a mentor.”

Juli added that as a mentor you’re there to offer insights, and things to think about, “You don’t just tell someone what to do. That’s not how you mentor someone. You should push them to succeed though, and help them gain exposure to new areas that interest them.”

What are some good mentor-relationship tips? Juli and Angela offer their advice:

  1. Make sure your mentor-relationship is a good fit. Sit down and have a conversation first. Did you click and have chemistry? That will help you be successful.
  2. Be Invested. Angela always comes prepared to her meetings with Juli because she knows they have limited time and it’s important to cut right to the chase to get the most out of their time together. Be sure to put your thoughts and questions down on paper. Be ready to take action, and be purposeful and committed to this relationship.
  3. Be Honest. Be Trusting. There are times in a mentor-relationship where you have to challenge your mentee and offer real world advice and opinions to help them grow. You may ask them to go out of their comfort zone in order for them to gain new experience. As a mentee you have to be honest with yourself and comfortable with your mentor to ask the difficult questions.
  4. Be Open to Learning. Chances are, through this mentorship you both will come away with big rewards!

So how have things progressed since Juli received that first email? “Angela is still here! We’ve actually talked about this because we were very, very close to losing her and in fact we did lose some of those women at the table because it was just too late for them. This is someone I care so much about and someone who I will be connected to for the rest of my life – if that email hadn’t come through, I never would’ve known Angela!”

Two years have gone by, and as Juli took her seat at Cisco Rocks in Levi’s Stadium during the July celebration that honored John Chambers and welcomed new CEO Chuck Robbins she looked down her row to spot a familiar face – Angela! “We didn’t plan on sitting near each other that day, but there she was! We couldn’t get over how we both randomly wound up in the same row. I’m so proud to work at Cisco, a company that holds these events that helps us all come together.”


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