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Reflections on Leading in IT

The first time someone referred to me as a “woman leader in IT,” I was honestly caught by surprise.  I had never stopped and thought about the idea that I was any different than any other leader, any other woman or any other person in IT.  That single comment made me pause and reflect on where I was in my career, what had brought me to that point and if there was really anything that made me that unique or different from anyone else I worked with every day.  As I reflected, I began to think about some core experiences and traits that I believe have played a part in getting me where I am today.

First, I was never once talked to about what I could or couldn’t do because I was a girl.  I never thought twice about taking every math and science class I could in high school, going to college to get a degree in Engineering, and then starting my career in IT.  I really enjoyed science and math, and I was good at those subjects.  I wasn’t fazed by the fact that there were mostly Read More »

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How Can We Encourage Students Of All Backgrounds To Go Into STEM?

March 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm PST

Today in the Huffington Post, Blair Christie, Cisco Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, and Eric Schwarz, cofounder and CEO of Citizen Schools wrote about our organizations’ collective commitment to increase the number of students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects and careers.

Last week in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, network engineers helped 50 student robotics teams compete in Aerial Assist, a game in which students program and operate robots to toss as many balls into a goal as possible — in just 150 seconds. Similarly, in San Jose, a group of women engineers at Cisco hosted 70 middle-school girls earlier this year as part of “National Engineering Week” to give them a glimpse into how cutting-edge technologies are developed in R&D labs.

These engagements, part of the US 2020 initiative announced at the White House Science Fair last year, reflect the urgent need to do more to encourage students to go into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions.

Three things are true in STEM: There are a lot of job openings. These jobs pay well. And there are not enough qualified people to fill these jobs. Today, the technology industry employs 6 million people. By 2018, the U.S. will face a projected shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree STEM workers. Meanwhile, the Bureau for Labor Statistics predicts that STEM jobs will grow 55 percent faster than non-STEM jobs over the next 10 years. The flow of talent into the STEM pipeline is limited. Without a dramatic change, the pressure will weaken further, and the flow of talent will slow to a trickle.

Read the complete blog on the Huffington Post.

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Four Secrets of One Woman’s Success in the IT Industry

February 26, 2014 at 6:30 am PST

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 4.04.46 PMThis post was written by guest blogger Patrice D’Eramo, who, as Vice President of the Americas Field Marketing Organization, leads field marketing for Cisco’s largest geographic region with $25 billion in annual sales. 

As I reflect back on my career journey, I realize most of the positions I wanted, I wasn’t supposed to get, at least not yet. I was either too young, didn’t have “enough” experience or didn’t have tenure at the company. Others were better positioned in the network, had more experience and were already a part of the company’s succession planning.

But I never let anything stop me from applying; I submitted my resume anyway. I surprised myself each time by being awarded every job I pursued. As a result of my “do it anyway” attitude, more opportunities presented themselves to me as time went on. In thinking back on how I have been successful, I attribute it to a few things:

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International Woman’s Day: A Celebration for ALL Women

On 8 March, thousands of International Women’s Day events have been planned throughout the world. The focus of the day generally expresses respect for ,and appreciation towards women who have achieved greatness on the public stage. More often than not it is to acknowledge their accomplishments in economics, political and social change.

I’d like to take a moment today to thank several remarkable women colleagues that I work with every day who move the ball forward, inch by inch, to make sure that the impact of our efforts to improve the world do not go unseen.

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IT Leadership – How to grow your own diverse workforce

I’d been looking at the issue of the lack of women in IT for a couple of years and trying to see how we could make a real impact when back in September 2011 I heard of a pilot scheme run by a colleague in our professional services division that had taken on 6 recruits aged 17 – 22, with a split of 2 male and 4 female, into an IT Apprenticeship scheme. Interest piqued, I met with scheme manager and was hugely heartened to hear that he had not purposefully gone out to get female recruits, it just happened that they were the right candidates and had interviewed well. By contrast we get around 10% -- 20% female intake from our technical graduate program and this is most likely driven by more girls having already chosen a non-technical path through university. Bingo! I thought -- this program could bring in both younger talent, and female engineering talent into Cisco in one hit.

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