I will never admit it to them, but I don’t mind picking up after my sons (ages two and six), or sometimes even my husband. And while there is never enough time to do everything as a Cisconian, mom, wife, friend, entrepreneur, and volunteer, I am the type of person who needs to see results, or at least to know that my contributions positively impact others.
One of my favorite benefits at Cisco is how we can show our impact – not just to our customers, partners, and fellow employees, but to the world.
This concept of world impact sounds so ambiguous, so exaggerated. But with programs like The Multiplier Effect, which leverages the power of sponsorship to increase diversity and equality across every industry; and Cisco’s Time2Give, which gifts each employee 40 hours a year to volunteer to the causes that mean the most to them, it is easy to see and feel one’s influence.
Living in Small Town, USA, most of my contributions are focused on ensuring economic development and innovations that sustain and revitalize my community. So, when I heard that employees could volunteer to judge the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge, I jumped on the opportunity to make a worldwide impact, right from my desk in rural Iowa.
Now in its fifth year, the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge is an annual competition that awards cash prizes to new business ideas that leverage technology for social impact from early-stage entrepreneurs around the world.
Now, after two years of judging, I am still amazed at how this volunteer work has opened my eyes to the basic human needs that still go unmet. I respect the people who are using technology to make countless lives better. The originality that comes from these outstanding innovators is mind-blowing! So much so that I couldn’t stop talking about it to my fellow employees, resulting in a peer joining this year’s judging group!
I’m proud to work for a company that will put forth $1 million USD in prize money this year to help accelerate the adoption of breakthrough technology, products, and services that drive economic development, and solve social or environmental problems.
The process is simple. After signing up, judges are assigned anywhere from 8 to 24 submissions. We review videos, stories, and data before ranking the entries against the Challenge criteria. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to shedding a tear or two during my reviews. Some tears of joy for those that solved major challenges, and some tears of gratitude for the day-to-day conveniences that are taken for granted. In fact, I get so emotionally charged while reading these entries that I was disappointed when my queue was empty!
Get inspired with me by checking out this year’s finalists and vote for your favorite submission to win the People’s Choice Award, starting June 2. Voting is open until June 18 at 5pm PT. You may be surprised at the passion and commitment of these entrepreneurs. Some of my favorites made the cut, and they may become your favorites too. The finalist with the most votes will be awarded the $10,000 USD People’s Choice Award. This year’s winners will be announced on June 29th during our live awards event.
… And thank you. Thank you for taking the time to support these life-changing actions. Thank for helping show the next generation that EVERY PERSON can truly make an impact, no matter where they are in the world.
Who knows? Maybe some two-year-old and six-year-old boys from rural Iowa will one day be inspired to make their mark. Now, if I can just get them to pick up their socks.