At Cisco, we are celebrating Hispanic-Latinx Heritage Month and during our podcast we invited Gena Pirtle, Senior Manager, People Policy & Purpose, and Claudia Gilles, Vice President of Human Resources at Intel, to talk about the meaning of being a Latina in our community. Join us as we celebrate our heritage, embrace diversity, and give tips on how to be an ally. 

Never in my wildest dreams did I think as a first-generation Latina I would be where I am now. It goes to show the importance of community and conversations. As I reflect on Hispanic-Latinx Heritage Month (HLHM), who comes to mind are my parents. Two immigrants who came to this country to find the “American dream.” All their hard work has gotten me where I am today, and for that I could not be more grateful.

A Spanglish Girl

Growing up in Miami, I was surrounded by my Latinx community. We celebrated with delicious food, my favorite still is Ajiaco, a soup with tons of flavor, that I used to have when I would spend my summers in Barranquilla, Colombia. As I started high school and took my first history class, I remember learning about the intertwined history between Latin America and the United States, and at that moment was the beginning of my love for “la historia de mi gente (the history of my people).”

Celebrating HLHM is acknowledging those that came before us. Sharing stories of community, resistance, passion, and struggle but mainly stories of achievement. Stories that make us stronger and bring us together as a community.

The power of togetherness

My journey at Cisco started four years ago as an intern. I was curious to find out what programs were available for Latinx employees and that is when the opportunities became endless. I discovered Conexión, Cisco’s Latinx employee Inclusive Community. At the time the leader of Conexión’s Research Triangle Park, North Carolina chapter introduced me to many Latinx Cisconians and it was in that moment that I learned about all the events and workshops we host for our community. That’s when I knew I was working for a company that valued my heritage.

Fast forward a couple years, I started my full-time role on the Marketing Industries team. I got involved in the Conexión community and my work family grew exponentially. From laughs, cries, advice, you name it, even though I have met less than a handful of them in person, it feels like I have known them for a lifetime. It confirms the saying, “People work for people – they do not work for businesses.” I really value working for a team that allows me to follow my passions while still doing my “day job.”

Cafecito & Conversations

Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to co-host, Coffee and Conversations, a podcast discussing industry opportunities and challenges, with Danny Vicente. Since HLHM was right around the corner, I thought why not bring my passions to my “day job.” I hopped on a call with Gena Pirtle, Senior Manager, People Policy & Purpose, and together in a matter of minutes, we had it all figured out. We decided to record a podcast together to share our stories as Latinas, and we were so excited. To my surprise it got even better when Claudia Gilles, Vice President of Human Resources at Intel, accepted our invitation to share her story too! I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming!

On our podcast, we discussed what it means to be Latina in our community, and how we celebrate our heritage by embracing diversity and sharing advice on how to be an ally for the Latinx community.

For me, the most insightful part of the podcast was when Claudia mentioned, “As a leader, one of my biggest aha moments is when people were not being promoted, it wasn’t because they weren’t good enough. It was because they weren’t given an opportunity to take on a challenging project.” I loved that moment because my success is largely due to those who have taken a chance on me and given me the opportunity to do challenging and creative projects.

I’m so proud to be a Latina at Cisco. Check out our new podcast (click on the image below) and please share your thoughts in the comments section.

A photo of 4 people on a webcall

You can also find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube.


Sabrina Gonzalez

Global Retail Marketing Manager

Marketing and Communications