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Transitions: From Military Service to Civilian Life

August 29, 2011 at 7:33 am PST

“Successful transitions are about attitude, ambition and placing the mission first. As we have done our entire military careers; never accept defeat, never quit and never leave a fallen comrade and to make this point clear, this is why I am here today. I have been in your seat, I have experienced many of the emotions you are going through and can provide you hope and encouragement that the future is yours for the taking.”

Credit: Wiliam McMillian

Kim Ringeisen, Director of Engineering at Cisco, spoke last month at the Wounded Warriors Project graduation ceremony for the Transition Training Academy at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. An 11-year veteran of the US Army, Ringeisen, was the keynote speaker for a 100 person graduating class of transitioning soldiers.

Also with him were Dale Robbins and Marissa Gaithers, members of Cisco’s Veterans Enablement and Troop Support Employee Resource Group.

“Soldiers today are very highly trained in their chosen discipline and in core values that the military instills on every soldier who has served, you have the competitive advantage, you have the spirit that many corporations seek.

“The Military is all about transitions, this is not new… You do not just arrive and you’re done, no! You will always improve your position, train and ensure your personal and team readiness, even if that team is you and your wife or partner. Do not let this transition rattle you, even though for some it will feel like deploying to a foreign land where nothing is familiar, questioning along the way, “will I make it?”, “is their hope for me?”, “how can I compete with the college grads?”, “ I’m in combat arms, but want to be a Network engineer, is this possible?”

“Keep in mind in that foreign land that you are entering, there are hundreds of thousands of veterans already there that can assist you in some form or another.”

About 27 percent of veterans age 20 to 24 are unemployed, according to recent statistics from the Labor Dept. Transitioning to civilian life is challenging. Ringeisen recounted his own experience: Read More »

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Cisco Honored as a Top Company for Multicultural Women 2011

August 12, 2011 at 7:34 am PST

“Ambition is not a bad word.” Working Mother Media held its 9th Multicultural Women’s National Conference in New York City on July 19-20, 2011. Over 700 women and men gathered for a conversation on race and gender. For the third year in a row, Cisco Systems was honored as one of the Top Companies for Multicultural Women, and for the second consecutive year as one of the Top 5 companies in the US.

Randall Lane accepts Cisco’s Top Company for Multicultural Women award from Carol Evans, President of Working Mother Media and CEO of Diversity Best Practices. Used with permission from Working Mother Media. Photo by Steven Easley

Accepting the award for Cisco was Randall Lane, Senior Leader, Global Inclusion & Diversity. I asked him to share a few thoughts from the event.

You’ve represented Cisco at the conference for three years now.  What does this conference consistently offer every year? Read More »

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Collaboration is Hard: How to Work within Conflicting Points of View

August 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm PST

“If someone is very abusive, or very aggressive, I always try to think, why is this person so aggressive? And sometimes by even making a joke, or by trying to get more information about the person…you break the ice. And sometimes you have some surprising results”

Boris Dittrich, Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch, spoke on collaboration at Cisco’s San Jose campus recently.  He told a story about his time as an openly gay Dutch parliament member:

I was still a member of the national parliament and a leader of my political party. We had created a new government and I was on television every night. So people usually said something when I walked down the street. Usually friendly.

Dittrich then recounted a less friendly encounter he had with a man as he walked from the train station to parliament: Read More »

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A world beyond clichés and labels

Whether it’s in a television comedy or a real life scenario, we’ve all experienced those excruciating moments when someone tries too hard to be culturally appropriate and ends up getting it wrong. Many of us avoid attempting shows of cultural awareness for fear of the offence we have the potential to cause.

In a global marketplace, many brands (including our own) are looking to build brand awareness and customer loyalty in new markets where social mores and cultural histories are in marked contrast to their own. Yet customers in new markets can often share needs and characteristics with those in originating markets, making a global brand offering eminently possible.

Read More »

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Simply Making a Big Impact

Often doing something simple can make a big impact.

First impressions are powerful. You have only a few seconds to make a favorable one. A business card is one of the first tangible ways we present ourselves and our company to others. It makes a statement of not only who we are, but what our company stands for. Imagine doing one effortless act that can make a big difference and immediately open doors for you and your company the first time you meet someone.

I have found that having my contact information printed in Braille on my Cisco business card has greatly influenced my interactions with others. I had received a Braille card at a conference and when I returned to the office, asked our vendor to offer Braille as an option for all Cisco employees. It was a simple change to include this option and it has provided an easy way to show people outside of Cisco our commitment to creating an inclusive environment where everyone is encouraged to contribute to their full potential.

Every time I give someone my card, it generates a conversation about Cisco’s inclusion and diversity philosophy and how proud I am to work for a company that focuses on these values. I’ve been able to explain how our culture helps ensure that many different viewpoints and ideas are brought to the table, so we can create the best and most innovative products and services. And people I don’t know, immediately get a glimpse about what is important to me.

Having a Braille business card has also given our sales people with a way to connect better with our customers. By showing right away that we share similar values with them, it has started conversations that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.

In one case, one of our sales directors met with a customer in the Middle East for the first time. After handing the customer his Braille business card, it triggered a rich discussion about Cisco’s commitment to people with disabilities and philosophy of including everyone. That led to a deeper connection with the customer and opened the door to more opportunities.

Better connections with customers. More sales opportunities. Deeper conversations with colleagues and potential talent. A quick way to show Cisco’s and your commitment to inclusion and diversity. Big and lasting impacts. And all from the simple act of having a Braille business card.

What small, simple things are you doing to create an inclusive world?

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