People are a company’s greatest asset, which is why Cisco is deeply committed to fostering a climate of innovation, professional growth, and business-focused enrichment. This commitment was especially evident in Cisco IT’s Architecture Talent Program (ATP). The FY16 pilot program was launched to instill an Enterprise Architecture (EA) mindset among IT employees and build critical skills.
ATP helped fill an architecture training gap, as Cisco IT had no EA skills program that aligned to our strategic priorities. The program was a partnership between the IT Architecture Group (Atul Sethi) and IT Talent Services (Maryanne Flynn). It was co-founded by David “DJ” Christman and Andrew Chappell, and program managed by Julie Nordquist.
In the latter half of FY16, the program matched 11 aspiring architects with senior architecture-minded IT employees working on video analytics, supply chain, contextual services, user experience metrics, and Internet of Things (IoT)-focused projects.
Participants worked in “tiger teams” under senior architecture mentorship. They were expected to complete three graduate-level classes over seven weeks each through Pennsylvania State University’s (Penn State) EA curriculum. The classes were taught by PhD experts in the EA field, vetted by Cisco IT Architecture leaders, and tailored so that they were relevant to the company’s needs. The classes allowed students to gain both the Cisco and industry-wide EA perspective, and earn a certificate from Penn State with graduate-level credit.
Aruna Mandadi and Noby Paul participated in the video analytics project under the senior architecture mentorship of Mani Kesavan. Reflecting on the experience, Mandadi said, “The ATP program helped me look outside of my regular day-to-day job and enhance my knowledge on what other cool work is happening across Cisco. It was a great way to find out about the architecture practices of other groups, even those outside Cisco, and to learn more about Cisco products and the IoT.”
Mandadi added, “One big thing I will take away from the program is the exposure I had to all the deep learning of open source code and tools. This is a huge asset that will help me to grow personally and professionally into the [IoT] video analytics world.”
Through ATP, participants contributed more than 2736 hours of practical skills application, helping to deliver real business outcomes for Cisco IT. By completing the architecture deliverables, they helped drive the IoT projects they worked on closer to making increased IoT revenue for Cisco.
When surveyed about the program, 94 percent of participants said the overall experience met their expectations. They also said they could apply the acquired skills in their daily work, and would recommend ATP to their colleagues.