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Shared Value: Amplifying the Success of a Business and Its Community

This post was also published on the Huffington Post ImpactX

The term “shared value” was introduced in 2010 by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, co-founders of FSG, a nonprofit consulting firm specializing in strategy, evaluation, and research.

But what does it mean? Simply put, it is the concept that a company can enhance its own competitiveness while simultaneously alleviating social problems in the communities where it operates.

According to Porter and Kramer, one way in which companies can create shared value opportunities is to enable “local cluster development.”

“When a firm builds clusters in its key locations, they also amplify the connection between their success and their communities’ success,” Porter and Kramer wrote in the January-February 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review.

I am a believer in this approach to creating shared value because it is the basis for the Cisco Networking Academy, our largest and longest-running corporate social responsibility program.

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Cisco NetRiders Champions Inspired by Tours of Cisco and Silicon Valley

The Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders competition champions have been enjoying a whirlwind tour of the Cisco San Jose campus and Silicon Valley this week. Their agenda has included both technical sites and locations of scenic and cultural interest.

The 17 champions from 13 countries started out their weeklong visit with a trip to Santa Cruz and a hike at Henry Cowell Redwood park in Scotts Valley. For many, this is their first trip outside their country. In fact, 5 champions had never ridden on an airplane before.

2013_NetRiders_RedwoodsNetRiders champions at Henry Cowell State Park.

The NetRiders have toured Cisco’s Data Center and the Compliance, Cable and AST (Administrative Serviceability Tools) labs. They even got to visit Cisco CEO John Chamber’s office.  He wasn’t in, but Rob Lloyd, Cisco’s President of Sales and Development, gave everyone a tour.

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Cisco Netriders Global Champions Tour Company Headquarters

This week Cisco is proud to host 17 NetRider Champions from 13 countries around the globe at Cisco headquarters in San Jose, California. These tech wizards are students from the Cisco Networking Academy program who competed against more than 10,000 applicants in 85 countries. They range in age from 20 to 37.

The annual Networking Academy NetRiders competition is an interactive networking skills contest. It utilizes Cisco’s Web 2.0 technologies to challenge students to achieve high standards of competence, enhance classroom learning, and motivate them to further pursue technology education and training.

NetRiders_2013_web_1 Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders winners are visiting the Cisco San Jose, California campus from 13 countries.

Cisco believes in educating people with new skills for life, as well as in providing aid to those in need. Networking Academy is Cisco’s largest and longest-running corporate social responsibility (CSR) program; it was established in 1997 to teach IT based skills to people around the world, helping them get good jobs and encouraging long-term, sustainable economic growth in communities by providing highly skilled network professionals to support local industries. The 10,000 Cisco Academies around the world teach more than 1 million students in over 165 countries each year!

Brian Forward, the NetRider Champion from Canada, was particularly attracted to the interactive element of the competition. “Participating means that I have had the chance to compete with the countries’ and continents’ finest, while showcasing my talents and skills, and enhancing them while representing my home Newfoundland,” he said. “On a forward-looking note, it has created confidence within me that propels my learning.”

The contest is such a good way to motivate students that Tracy Granlund from the Networking Academy Student Advocacy Team says, “We hope to see the competition grow to 50,000 student participants.” The winners are in California to meet with Cisco staff and tour our offices, labs and data center; the Stanford University campus; Intel Museum; coastal Redwoods and beaches at Santa Cruz; and attractions in nearby San Francisco.

We’ll keep you posted about what the NetRiders are up to throughout the week.

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Cisco Networking Academy: A Model for Both Workforce Training and K-12 Education

No matter where you are in the world, you need networking skills to be competitive in today’s economy. In many countries, a lack of people with information and communications technology (ICT) skills is the biggest impediment to global competitiveness.

In the current issue of the Brunswick Review, Cisco Vice President of Corporate Affairs Amy Christen discusses how Cisco Networking Academy is helping to bridge this ICT skills gap by training 1 million people in 165 countries each year to build, maintain, and secure computer networks. Some of the facts Amy shares in her interview may surprise you.

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Advancements in Technology: Reflections from InstructureCon

Wow! Learning Management Systems (LMS) have come a long way! Cisco Networking Academy had a vision for a network-based LMS in 1997, when we were founded. We had to build our own custom LMS, because there were no options in the market. Today at InstructureCon, an annual gathering of education technology leaders, I was amazed to see not only how far the technology has come, but how broadly the vision of LMS and education assisted by networking technology has gained acceptance!

I was so excited to share with the Canvas community that Cisco Networking Academy will be incorporating Canvas as the LMS portion of our new platform, Cisco NetSpace, which we will announce and unveil at the NetAcad Global Conference on Monday. As Networking Academy continues to grow, the ability to continue to innovate to deliver high-impact educational offerings to instructors and students will be critical. It was time to enhance the essential core business functionality with an engaging, feature-rich, and personalized user experience that incorporated the latest in educational best practices for learning solutions. The new NetSpace will deliver results today, yet is flexible enough to accommodate future innovations to help improve education through the use of technology and the network.

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