While some may still consider me a “newbie” to the Cisco family, I have felt at home here since day one. And, with a few months’ tenure already under my belt, it’s evident to me every day just how strong our culture is, and how Cisco truly makes it a priority to be inclusive and elevate everyone within our community. I’m honored to write this blog post today on International Women’s Day – so we can celebrate our vibrant community of women today, and every day! I’m sincerely grateful to be a part of this confident and outstanding group; the way everyone stands stronger together, lifts each other up, and helps one another shine brightly is exactly the kind of environment I want to help foster, and be a part of. We all need to keep shining with our individual and diverse qualities unique to each of us.

That’s the theme I’d like to touch on today: how each of us can – and should – be a shining light amongst our teams, for ourselves, and in our everyday lives. Let’s dive more deeply into what exactly this means and how we can hold ourselves accountable to nurture that light within.

  • Embrace and amplify what makes you, you. We each know it’s true: there are unique qualities, strengths, and attributes that make you stand out amongst your peers. It’s ok, you can beam about it a little bit 😉  What I want to emphasize is, whether it’s a technical skill, a natural inclination to public speaking, an ability to connect people and build relationships – whatever it is, it’s up to you to embrace it and make sure these qualities shine through. The first step? Put some pen to paper and document what you think your outstanding qualities are. Don’t be shy! Jot them all down and be proud of what you bring to your community and what makes you shine.
  • Shine your light further than you’ve shone before. Now that you can clearly see a list of your top talents and abilities, it’s time to get the word out there! Because if you don’t illuminate your core strengths, it’s unlikely others will on your behalf in this busy, fast-paced world of ours. So, what does this mean?
    • Get social. Share your voice on LinkedIn and Twitter and other platforms that reach our internal community, partners and customers.
    • Speak up. If you have something to say during regular team calls, a debrief, or a manager/skip-level 1:1, let your voice heard. Respectfully and with consideration of course, but it’s up to you to express your opinions and showcase your expertise.
    • Be involved. When you’ve documented your key strengths and put that together against your career plan (if that’s still in the works, we can discuss that next blog post!) then it’s the perfect time to start engaging in the appropriate forums so you can shed light on what you bring to the table. Join a committee or board. Attend that next event. Volunteer for what you’re passionate about. This is your opportunity to shine.
  • Tap into your network – they can be your beacon. No one should go down their path of opportunity and development alone. Make sure you’re communicating with your sponsors, mentors and your networking circle about your intentions, desired next steps, and any asks you have of them that could support you. I’m fairly certain they’ll provide a glowing review and potentially new ideas you can pursue.
  • Don’t be your own self-dimmer. We are so, so often our worst critics. I think this comes naturally to most, and possibly even more so for women. While it’s important to lift each other up, it’s just as important to uplift ourselves. Get that positive self-soundtrack going – then hit replay. It’s amazing what positive thoughts and reminders can do to help us preserve our sparkle, even in those moments when we may not feel as radiant as we should.

In summary: It’s up to each of us to spread our light for the benefit of our goals, our morals, our vision and most importantly, to ourselves. And remember:

If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.

So start planning how you’re going to go after those big, audacious dreams and go after them – what’s the worst that could happen? If you don’t let yourself shine bright and fearlessly, you may never know.



Rachel Barger

Senior Vice President

Americas Sales