In my last blog, I explored the internship experience. Continuing the deeper dive into different perspectives across Cisco, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview two current employees within the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) space. Both Stacey and Jen work within communications and played a wonderful role in mentoring me during my time as a part of the team this summer.
For Jen, March brought her two small children home to learn on digital devices, they had previously been in kindergarten and daycare. Suddenly she found she had to incorporate learning and play into her daily work-from-home agenda. While working from home was nothing new – she has worked on Cisco’s annual CSR report remotely from San Diego for the past year – working at home with her children and husband there too was an adjustment.
When the order for everyone to shelter in place came, Jen and her husband learned to balance childcare and distance learning. Jen’s biggest concern became “keeping my children enriched while also working full time.” While it was an adjustment for her kindergartener to learn how to type in homework answers and for her to create working spaces for all the adults in the home, there were also some great takeaways during this time.
“I’ve had more opportunity to demonstrate self-care for my daughters,” she states, explaining that prioritizing her health is an important part of her routine. Running, lifting weights, trying out meditation, as well as “being in the moment,” is key to staying sane in a virtual world. Jen describes as she explains some takeaways from her time going virtual. “There are some really great things that have come from being at home. When the kids are playing and [they] do something really sweet and wonderful, [I] can just sit in that.” Her parents also have stepped in remotely: to FaceTime her children, read to them, and spend the quality time usually made difficult with a geographical barrier. Moments that, perhaps, would not have been so noticeable without the pause that social restrictions created for Jen and her family.
Jen found Cisco leadership’s response to the pandemic particularly meaningful, “When everything first happened, I still remember Cisco’s leadership focusing on mental health, and ensuring that it was okay to feel stressed out and overwhelmed … to me, it felt so nice seeing that from leadership because it was something I was struggling with at the time.” A continuous appreciation for Cisco’s excellence in leadership was made more evident with the implementation of regular Check-Ins, via Cisco TV, for all employees to attend.
When asked about what keeps her balanced, Jen smiled as she admits, “I was not an athlete growing up … but the way I see it is, strong body, strong mind.” Her personal trainer, she chuckles, is “necessary.” Saturday morning crunches are much harder, but more fun, with kids climbing over her.
The pandemic has given her more time for reading and re-engaging with a book club that now meets remotely. Becoming by Michelle Obama and Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould are two recent favorites. She describes reading about Michele Obama’s life as “inspiring,” as her autobiography describes her life before being in the public eye as the First Lady.
Going forward, Jen remarks that she wants to be able to provide her children “a whole village of opportunity.” While being at home has been wonderful, she knows that having experiences and learning outside of the house is what is truly beneficial for her, her husband, and, most importantly, her kids. While schools may be closed in the fall, Jen is entering the autumn season with a mindset that was not there this spring: “this time is temporary, requires patience, creativity, and self-acceptance. If the work gets done and the kids have some stimulation, that’s a win.”
Native to upstate New York, Stacey Faucett, along with her mother and husband moved to the San Francisco Bay Area nearly four years ago. After working in higher education, doing grant work for a community college, and writing content for a local nonprofit – she fell in love with sharing stories exploring how tech can be used for good. She then joined Cisco’s CSR team in October 2019. From working at a non-profit to the corporate space, Stacey is no stranger to change. Look even closer, and you see an untold story of how important support and love are to her and her family.
Stacey has always been close with her mother, Alison, who in 2014, contracted the H1N1 flu virus that eventually progressed into Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Following two months on life support and another month in rehabilitation, Stacey watched as her mother relearned basic functions like swallowing, talking, and, eventually, walking again.
Seeing her mother recover from such a difficult experience taxed Stacey both emotionally and physically. Despite this painful time, Stacey shared, “the remarkable determination and strength [my mom] had during this time is something I think about often.” As age and ability are two of the least-discussed topics when discussing “isms,” it is important to emphasize that peoples’ experiences go beyond their physical experiences. Reflecting on recent months has made Stacey deeply appreciate spending time with her mother at home.
Although she misses seeing coworkers in the office, Stacey has seen that there are positives to working remotely, like “getting in the zone,” especially when she is writing an article. Stacey has used this time to reconnect with loved ones over the phone or through video messaging. Add in meditation, photography, and baking with her mom to her list of things she’s doing in her free time – she has also found time to volunteer. Community engagement is a very important component of working at Cisco, and Stacey was delighted to use her Time2Give to engage in a virtual volunteering opportunity with the Santa Clara County COVID-19 Financial Assistance Fund.
Lastly, Stacey states that she reads more now, and encourages those that are just beginning to engage with social justice initiatives to “start somewhere and read as much as you can.” She recommends the book Evicted by Matthew Desmond, which discusses the housing crisis and how it can be accentuated by the global pandemic. “I’m happy to work for a company that acknowledges systemic racism,” says Stacey.
Despite all of the changes, Stacey reiterates the importance of working for a company that truly cares about her and her family’s well-being, outside of her role, and is this is something truly special to Cisco’s culture.