Exactly one year ago, during the launch of the Cisco Empowered Women’s Network at Cisco Live Orlando, we asked the audience: “What would you do if you were not afraid?” On that day, we couldn’t have imagined the incredible journey we would take in answering that question and, ultimately, in building the Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CiscoEWN).
CiscoEWN was created out of a collaboration between myself, Priscila David (Director, Systems Engineering, US Commercial East); Rima Alameddine (Sales Director, Enterprise NY); and Anuja Singh (Manager, Systems Engineering, Public Sector). All three of us work in the field sales organization at Cisco and have daily interactions with customers and partners. We realized that while the Cisco Employee Resource Organizations (EROs) were effective in building strong networks internally, as a company we were missing an opportunity to connect with our customers, partners, and the IT industry around issues of inclusion, diversity and leadership. We wanted to start by building that cross-industry network for women in IT and their allies – and CiscoEWN was the answer.
CiscoEWN’s mission is to provide a sustainable community for women in IT (and male allies!) to network, motivate, and empower each other during Cisco Live and through energizing and engaging sessions held throughout the year. The goal of CiscoEWN is to:
· Connect professional women in IT and allies across the base of Cisco customers, partners and employees
· Engage and showcase inspiring women who are role models and encourage the advancement of others
· Enable the professional and personal growth of career women by imparting practical knowledge and skills
· Expand the network and give back to the community by advocating programs that support young girls through technology
With the goal of connecting Cisco, customer and partner women and male allies, we couldn’t think of a better time to launch CiscoEWN than during our major customer conference, Cisco Live!Our idea was to dedicate special breakout session during Cisco Live to women in IT. With outstanding advisory support from Shari Slate (Cisco Chief Inclusion and Collaboration Strategist), and Executive Sponsorship from Patrice D’Eramo, (Cisco Vice President, Americas Field Marketing), we were ready to put the plan in action!
CiscoEWN formally launched at Cisco Live Orlando on June 23 2013. More than 250 men and women gathered to hear from our inspired speakers, including outstanding CiscoEWN supporter Padmasree Warrior (CTSO, Cisco), Rebecca Jacoby (CIO, Cisco) and guest speakers from our customer and partner community. We received an incredible response from the audience; one common refrain was, “This was the best part of my Cisco Live experience”. With the help of our generous attendees, we also raised over $5,000 for The Half the Sky Movement, an organization that turns oppression into opportunity for women worldwide.
The launch event was a huge accomplishment for the entire CiscoEWN team, but it was only the beginning. The CiscoEWN community has grown globally in the past year through virtual and live events in every major region:
- CiscoEWN Virtual Development Series:
Over 200 people participated in the session “Best Practices Using Social Media to improve your Brand,” with Catalina Kowal and Cindy Goodwin-Sak
Over 350 people participated in the session “Authentic Communication Style” with Ron Ricci, Cisco VP of Customer Experience and author of The Collaboration Imperative
- CiscoEWN Leadership Insight Series:
Over 800 attendees gathered live in 16 offices across the Americas for the “Art and Science of Leadership” event with Carlos Dominguez, Cisco SVP, Office of the CEO and Chairman of the Board, and author of The Technowist Daily
- CiscoEWN was a co-sponsor for the Cisco Women of Impact event on March 6th.
Over 3000 attendees, including customers and partners, joined Cisco employees across 21 Cisco offices in the Americas and EMEAR. CiscoEWN sponsorship for this event enabled customer and partner participation in a conference that traditionally targeted Cisco employees only.
- CiscoEWN went GLOBAL with launches at Cisco Live in Europe (Milan), Australia (Melbourne) and LATAM (Cancun).
This year’s Cisco Live in San Francisco May 18-22, 2014 will mark the second annual forum for CiscoEWN. At this 25th anniversary of Cisco Live, we are proud to have two sessions dedicated towards women and our male allies: a Sunday reception event from 3:00- 7:00pm P.T., and a Wednesday panel session from 8:00 – 9:30am P.T., specially highlighting great women in technical roles. Our theme this year throughout the week of Cisco Live is TODAY. TOMORROW. TRANSFORMED.
Details on both sessions can be found on our Cisco Live webpage.
We are thankful for tremendous leadership support from close to 50 Cisco, Customer, and Partner executives who are graciously participating in our events as a speaker and/or as an Executive Mentor for our speed mentoring session on Sunday. We expect an audience of 600 people to join us throughout the week! We can’t wait for you to be part of it.
No great achievement is possible without an incredible team that rallies behind a mission. The passionate and driven individuals who make up the CiscoEWN core team are the ones who continue to make all this possible.
We are proud of what CiscoEWN has achieved so far and excited about the future possibilities.
This is our story. And now, a year later, we ask you: “Are you constantly transforming yourself”?
Priscila David, Rima Alameddine and Anuja Singh
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