This blog was originally published on Cisco’s internal employee website.

“Follow your dreams. Don’t be afraid. Hold your heads high!”


These were the words shared by Alison Gleeson, Cisco’s Senior Vice President of Americas Sales and Jordi Botifoll, Cisco’s President of the Latin America Theater, to students at a recent Cisco Networking Academy event during Cisco Live! Cancun.

The 30 students came from Mexico’s Yucatan and Quintana Roo area. They come from primarily underprivileged neighborhoods, but these young men and women are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families by pursuing careers in technology.


The lack of qualified IT talent is a leading social and economic issue around the world. In Latin America alone, 36 percent of firms say they struggle to find an adequately qualified workforce. Cisco’s Networking Academy is helping to bridge that gap by preparing talent with networking skills that businesses need to grow and thrive in an increasingly digitized world.

In Latin America, more than 1 million students from 35 countries have developed IT and career skills through the Networking Academy. This includes 180,000 students in the last 12 months – 22 percent of which were women.


Alison and Jordi shared inspiring personal stories with the students about how their careers in IT began and the students asked many questions. The group had a lively talk and all appreciated their time together.

These students are also part of the new “Pay it Forward” program, a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative being piloted in Latin America. This program asks each of the students to go home and pay what they learned forward by reaching out to local high schools and inspiring other students to pursue careers in technology.


Learn more about Cisco’s CSR programs and how the Networking Academy is empowering a new generation of global problem solvers.


Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco