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This blog post was written by Priscila David in collaboration with Emily GriffinAnuja Singh and Rima Alameddine

Today. Tomorrow. Transformed. This was the theme of the second annual Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CiscoEWN) forum at Cisco Live. And what a great week of transformation it was, and a great way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cisco Live! Sorry for the long blog post, but it was an exciting week for us!

CiscoEWN is a global community of highly motivated, professional women, as well as a forum for Cisco customers, partners and employees to network and motivate one another at Cisco Live and in virtual and live events throughout the year. Our founders and Executive Sponsors highlight our goals for CiscoEWN at Cisco Live US in San Francisco this year:

CiscoEWN sponsored several activities during the week each of which gave the opportunity for women in technology and our male allies to gather together and network, learn from and empower each other.

We kicked off the week with the CiscoEWN Forum on Sunday, a four-hour event with a packed agenda of mentoring sessions, panels, and keynotes. Here’s a recap of the afternoon:

  • Over 450 men and women, including Cisco employees, customers and partners, attended (up from 250 attendees last year!).
  • 50 executive mentors shared life experiences and offered advice in an icebreaker mentoring session with attendees.

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  • Cisco President and COO Gary Moore shared his thoughts on why diversity and inclusion is important for business. 
  • Padmasree Warrior, Cisco CTSO, shared insights about her personal transformational journey. She asked the audience to reflect, “what gradual and dramatic transformation has helped you become more self aware and grow?” She also shared learned wisdoms like “having it all is not doing it all” and her personal approach to work/life integration.

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  • Patrice D’Eramo (Cisco VP of Marketing) led a panel with Julie Kantor (Chief Partnership Officer, Million Women Mentors and STEMconnector), and Tara McCann (Cisco SSEM, Commercial NYC Metro). All three women discussed ideas for transforming the STEM landscape and leveraging role models mentoring the girls and young women to motivate them to adopt careers in IT. The mission of Million Women Mentors is to have 1 million mentors in STEM by 2018 . You can pledge to become a mentor here.
  • Shari Slate, Cisco Chief Inclusion and Diversity officer, facilitated a discussion with panelists Rashmi Sinha (CEO, Slideshare), Cynthia Stoddard (CIO, Netapp) and Judy Priest (Cisco, Distinguished Engineer) focused on “Unleashing Your Personal Power & Potential For Transformation”. Rashmi described how she became an “accidental entrepreneur”, Judy shared some excellent, instantly quotable advice like “expect adversity, skip the outrage and find your path” and Cynthia shared stories of transformation in her career path.

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  • Mike Koons (Cisco VP,  World Wide Systems Engineer) shared his thoughts on the future of technology and the skills that will be required in this changing world. He focused on how a diverse and inclusive environment provides differentiation.
  • Then we were ready for a lively dose of humor – and nobody delivers that better than social media guru and Influence Marketing Manager Amy Lewis ( better known by her Twitter handle @Commsninja). Some of Amy’s pithy advice blew up on Twitter immediately, including her “Influence Diet” mantra-  “Get Up, Dress Up, Show Up!” – and her self-described fashion choice – the “IT Mullet, work on the top, geek on the bottom!” Amy kept the audience laughing the entire time – a major hit!
  • Our closing keynote was none other than Cisco SVP, Office of the Chairman of the Board and CEO, and self-proclaimed TechNOWist Carlos Dominguez! Always charismatic and engaging, Carlos shared tips how to stay relevant in this new world, embrace change and get in the game!
  • Closing our overall session, Cisco CMO Blair Christie reinforced the importance of engagement with STEM initiatives and preparing the next generation of IT leaders.
  • We raised $5000 to support global education efforts with the Girl Rising foundation. The winners of the raffle enjoyed an exclusive Breakfast with Executives, including  Cisco SVP US Commercial Sales Alison Gleeson, Cisco CIO Rebecca Jacoby, and Cisco SVP World Wide Partner Organization Wendy Bahr.

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  • You can catch up full recording of the Sunday evening forum here.

Even after Sunday’s jam-packed agenda, the week was still full of activities!

  • CiscoEWN sponsored multiple “Table Topics” throughout the week: “How to become a Cisco Champion”, “Smart women embrace risk” and “STEM / Mentorship.”
  • On Wednesday, we hosted a panel focused on “Your Future in Technology: Discover the Possibilities.” The panel included Cisco CIO Rebecca Jaccoby, SVP of Services Ana Pinczuk, Distinguished Engineer Rong Pan and great technical role models from Cisco and across the industry including Denise FishburneDenise Donahue and Lauren Malhoit. Our Moderator was Brenda Dennis (Cisco SR Director of WW Sales Strategy) and hosts Cindy Goodwin-Sak and Tara Mccann (both Senior Systems Engineer Leaders at Cisco). The panel presented a very balanced discussion of technical and leadership career tracks, and the panelists offered more great, quotable advice like “there is no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone”. And yes, more fun this time sponsored by Denise Fishburne (pic below)! The recording of the entire session is available, and it’s worth a watch- click here!

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  • Finally, Cisco EWN offered an opportunity for attendees to meet up outside AT&T Park and attend the Customer Appreciation Party  (featuring Lenny Kravitz and Imagine Dragons!) together!

It was a truly incredible week! You can view all the social media coverage for the week via our Storify summary.

As always, we are very thankful for the fantastic work our CORE team put together to make ALL of this happen!

So what’s next?? We have a CiscoEWN development series coming up on June 19 at 12:30 PM PST.  Diane Cashin, President and CEO, Leadership Development and Executive Coach, will be hosting the CiscoEWN Development Virtual series “BE BOLD. BE FEARLESS.BE UNSTOPPABLE.” The First session focus on “Who Are You? What Do You Want?” on June 19th 3:30 PM EST- Register here!

For more details on registration, join  CiscoEWN Social Media channels:

LinkedIn Cisco Empowered Women’s Network Group

Facebook Cisco Empowered Women’s Network Page

@CiscoEWN on Twitter

So – did you join us at Cisco Live? Have thoughts or questions about the week or about CiscoEWN? Comment below!

Priscila, Emily, Rima and Anuja.


Priscila David

Systems Engineer Director US Commercial East Area