If you think running a 5K race is challenge enough, try throwing a few daunting obstacles on the course. Cisco Network Consulting Engineer Diedre Brown has faced that challenge, and has overcome it.
A few years ago, Diedre wouldn’t have even considered a physical challenge. She had struggled with weight issues and never thought it possible. However, she set her mind to getting healthy (helped along by some Cisco health incentives) and lost the weight. That sparked the need to give herself a new challenge.
“I wanted to celebrate hitting my 40th birthday and the new me by running an obstacle course race,” she says. “I wanted to know just how far I could push myself.”
And push herself she did, completing the Rugged Maniac Race in Atlanta. Diedre came away from that finish with a new sense of herself, and new self-awareness to share to help others.
“It translates into fearlessness,” she explains. “What’s the worst that could happen? Transforming physically caused me to realize that your brain can transform, too. So you start to say, ‘Why not?’”
Deidra wants to inspire others to be fearless, too. As a co-lead for the Atlanta Chapter of Cisco’s Connected Black Professionals ERO (Employee Resource Organization) and a member of Cisco’s Connected Women ERO, she’s coming out of her shell and inspiring young women in technology to start saying “why not?”
“That’s what I love about Cisco,” she said. “Cisco allows you to be your whole self. You can absolutely change the world, but in a way that’s important to you. Before I came here, I never would have been out of my comfort zone to stand in front of a room and speak. But now I’m speaking to young women, and interacting with executives. It never would’ve happened without changing my point of view and with Cisco behind me.”
This year, Deidra helped put on a week-long STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) camp for young women at the Cisco campus in Lawrenceville, GA.
“We wowed them with the best Cisco had to offer, and students have been emailing me ever since!” she says. “The students are amazed. We show them the future, and their jaws drop.”
She has also worked with Cisco’s Girls Power Tech Day, along with career development days. She does it to bring future women into the technology arena (where she has been her whole career, after getting a degree in Computer Information Systems from Florida A&M), but also to inspire her own daughter.
“Before these events, my daughter couldn’t translate in her mind what I did,” she says. “Now, she understands, and even sees the future opportunities for herself.”
That’s what Deidra now champions as she talks to women in technology today.
“So much of what happens is just saying ‘I’ll do it.’” she says. “The world just opens up! Rather than talking yourself out of something, and realizing a ‘no’ won’t kill you.”
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