This blog post was guest-written by Faith Lin, Community Relations Manager at Cisco

Whether you’re an engineer or a project manager, you have skills that make you uniquely qualified to work at Cisco, from networking expertise to technology know-how. You use them every day, but they’re skills we can apply outside of the office to make a positive impact on people, society, and the planet.

That’s the message behind Pro Bono Week, a global celebration of professional services for public good, celebrated annually during the last week of October. Cisco employees and those at companies around the world can use their everyday skills to directly help organizations take their impact to the next level.

In honor of this push to support nonprofit and social impact organizations, we’d like to highlight several Cisco pro bono volunteer superstars and their ability to Make Moments that Matter, no matter where they are!

Sankar Balasubramanian, Engineering Technical Leader, app development and coding volunteer; case developed by Rajesh Chandran, Sr. Manager, Business Development — Cisco India, Chennai

In India, nearly 70 percent of the population is literate, meaning more than 900 million people in the country can read and write. For the India Literacy Project (ILP), 70 percent isn’t high enough; the nonprofit’s mission is to act as a “catalyst for achieving 100 percent literacy in India.”

Through programs like Multi-Dimensional Learning Spaces (MDLS), ILP is providing students with an opportunity to explore, experiment, and to learn in a holistic environment. To do so, they offer students access to computer labs, libraries, low-cost math and science labs, smart classrooms, career guidance, and more to improve their reading and writing skills.

Rajesh Chandran, Business Development Manager at Cisco and a long-time volunteer with ILP, helped to define the technological support required by the NGO partner into a tangible problem statement.

To support these efforts, Sankar led a team of 14 employee volunteers as part of a “Code and Give Back: Mobile App Development” event in Chennai, India. Together, they helped ILP develop an application that class monitors can use to track and log activity at project locations. The application makes it easy to assess progress at the school and district level, while providing transparency for all stakeholders.

“‘It was very satisfying to work on a volunteering project where our technical expertise could be utilized to create a unique experience for all of us — compared to conventional volunteering efforts,” Sankar says. “Developing software for ILP enables us to fully leverage our expertise on software development across technologies — Android apps, Web Services, Web UI, etc., and hopefully it gives a big boost to ILP to reach their goals.”

Cross-functional team of volunteers from Cisco Bangalore leveraging their technological expertise to benefit an alternative school in Leh Ladkah, India

Like Sankar and Rajesh, a cross-functional volunteer team–including a group of engineering and IT volunteers from Cisco Bangalore –saw an opportunity in India to volunteer their skills for a local organization, the Student’s Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), using Cisco’s Time2Give benefit, an employee benefit that enables all Cisco employees to take five calendar days per year to volunteer with their causes of choice.

The nonprofit was founded in 1988 to reform the region’s educational system and to build skills to support today’s digital economy. SECMOL’s Alternative School is located in one of Ladakh’s more remote areas, making it difficult for students to access the information needed for their studies.

“Since getting the Internet to this remote school was next to impossible, we provided them with an alternative solution,” said Sukeerth SP, one of the volunteers who was part of this contingent.  Madhuri MS, who led this team says. “Offline content! We gave them a dashboard, which was linked to offline content, such as Wikipedia, TedX videos, Khan Academy lite, and high school educational content.”

While on site, Madhuri and a cross-functional team of nine engineers customized the dashboard, cabled the computer lab, networked the office and library, and organized the school’s AV equipment to shift the focus on the learning at hand.

Inspired by these stories? Join Cisco’s culture of giving and volunteer your own time and skills as a Cisco employee. Here’s how:

  • Taproot+ for Cisco – Cisco’s online platform that connects your skills with nonprofit needs, including projects in business strategy, marketing and information technology
  • Participate in a Pro Bono Week event near you
  • Reach out to Faith Lin, Community Relations Manager, to discuss how you can contribute your expertise
  • Want to work for a company that gives back? See our open roles here: cisco.com/careers


Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco