Kate O'Keeffe

Senior Director

Customer and Partner Innovation

Kate O’Keeffe is Cisco’s Senior Director of Customer and Partner Innovation. She brings a wealth of experience in innovation and entrepreneurship to her role, driving new customer solutions within Cisco’s engineering organization.

Prior to her current role, Kate was founder and leader of Cisco CHILL, a co-innovation catalyst designed to drive disruptive innovation with and for Cisco customers. Her passion to solve bold problems that don’t yet have answers grew out of her long-term desire to find better, faster ways to approach big global issues such as environmental and population challenges. With CHILL, she developed a unique methodology that leapfrogged traditional innovation processes to spark broad industry change. During the three years of CHILL innovation, a full 70 percent of ideas progressed to further stages, resulting in two start-ups, seven patents, and more than 20 joint projects and internal growth initiatives. She continues to drive the CHILL co-innovation methodology in her current role.

Previously Kate was the global leader of the Services Innovation Excellence Center at Cisco, where she was responsible for driving sustainable innovation capability for Cisco Services. The practice is based on an Innovation Maturity Model, devised to provide a clear pathway for businesses to build sustainable, measureable innovation capability.

Prior to Cisco, Kate led innovation for an Australian-based corporation in the utilities sector.

As a native of Melbourne, Kate proved her entrepreneurial chops as a fashion designer by founding, building, and exiting a successful shoe business, Cinderella Bella.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and is the recipient of numerous industry awards and recognitions, including the HBR/McKinsey M-Prize: Innovating Innovation Challenge. Kate was also named one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business” and included in the Anita Borg Institute’s annual Women of Vision awards. Most recently, Kate was named one of the Upstart 50 2018 by the San Francisco Business Times and Silicon Valley Business Journal.

She is co-author of “Managing Multiparty Innovation,” which was published in the Harvard Business Review in November, 2016.


September 21, 2017


To Save Tomorrow: The Promise and Peril of the Augmented Worker

1 min read

Technology and changing organizational structures like the gig economy are redefining work and workers. We continue our comic-book view of the Future of Work with the augmented worker.

September 15, 2017


Open Up the Pipeline for Future Workers

3 min read

What kinds of skills will the worker of the 21st century need to thrive in an era of AI and automation? And how will companies find, recruit and train them?

August 31, 2017


To Save Tomorrow: Who Will Be the Worker of the Future?

2 min read

We have to be able to imagine the future in order to create the future we want. Join Kate O’Keeffe on an imaginary journey into the Future of Work.

August 15, 2017


Superheroes Wanted: Envisioning the Future of Work

1 min read

At our next Cisco Hyperinnovation Living Lab, we will focus on the future of work. Will intelligent robots take our jobs? And which superheroes (or villains) will shape the future?

July 20, 2017


Shaping the Future of Work: Three Questions to Ask

3 min read

What will work look like in 10 years? We haven’t been great at predicting the future, but this time we have the opportunity to shape it. Kate O’Keeffe discusses areas of work that are ripe for innovation.

June 29, 2017


Top 5 Snapshots from Cisco Live

3 min read

Innovation is everywhere, and this week it was at Cisco Live! Kate O’Keeffe shares her top five Cisco Live moments.

June 21, 2017


MyWays: How Two Days of Innovation Helped Build a Startup from Scratch

3 min read

How do you build a startup from scratch? As leader of CHILL, Kate O’Keeffe has helped make it happen.

June 12, 2017


Let’s CHILL: Industry-Wide Innovation on Hyper Drive

3 min read

What do you get from two days of intense, customer-focused, industry-wide innovation? You just might witness the birth of a brand new startup.