Conexion Badge updated2I have always been a passionate believer in The Power of Partnerships to improve diversity in the talent pipeline, the workplace and leadership positions at enterprises everywhere. My experience shows that partnerships must be formed both within the enterprise and outside of it in order to make a real impact on diversity.

This has been made more obvious to me in the last month than at any other time in my 20-year business career. The Power of Partnerships – both internally and externally – can make a difference, and I’ve seen that difference accelerated when these partnerships interconnect to advance Hispanic  representation in the high-tech industry.

For example, on Oct. 21, Conexión, the Latino Employee Resource Organization (ERO) at Cisco, recognized its corporate history of progress, innovation and impact with a Cisco TV broadcast featuring presentations by Cisco leaders such as Guillermo Diaz Jr., Cisco’s CIO; Shari Slate, our Chief Inclusion & Collaboration Officer; and, Maria Dincel, a Marketing director who oversees Cisco’s sponsorship of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. We also invited Gina Rudan, a Leadership Coach at Google, who inspired everyone with her insights on how each of us can unleash our “inner genius” by combining our specific skills and experience with our unique passion in life.

Hispanic Heritage Month. The Conexión event, held during Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, was more than a celebration.  Not only did it bring together more than 400 people in person and virtually in Mexico, Brussels, Spain and the United States (California, North Carolina, Texas and Massachusetts), it marked successes the group has made at Cisco and in our global communities since it was formed in 1999.

Conexión stands as one of the oldest, boldest and most impactful of Cisco’s ten EROs, expanding from a handful of founders to more than 1,000 strong today. Conexión incubated a talent development program (El Mercado – Stretch Assignment Marketplace, sami.cisco.com) now instituted as a best practice throughout Cisco, an in-school volunteer program (Programma Escuela), and now we’re partnering with Human Resources to make further gains in aHITEC-Cico Logottracting, developing and retaining Hispanic talent at Cisco.

As Co-President of Conexión, it’s especially gratifying for me to see how this ERO and Cisco are building our relationship with the Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC), where I am Chair for the Emerging Executive Program. I am so proud to see how Cisco’s leadership is supporting the HITEC event this week at Facebook Headquarters on Thursday and Friday (November 5 and 6).

The special bonds forged among Conexión, HITEC, Cisco and many other diverse organizations – internally and externally — are underpinned and strengthened by the amazing people in Cisco’s Office of Inclusion & Collaboration, notably Cathy Ciprian, HR Manager who spearheads all Strategic Partnership events, and Maria Medrano, Senior Manager for Transformational Practices who oversees Cisco’s 23,000-member Inclusion & Collaboration Community (including the EROs).

Conexión’s entire Board will attend the HITEC event, and some of us will participate in the program. Shari Slate will be part of an elite Diversity and Inclusion panel of her peers from Facebook, Comcast, Accenture and HP, addressing “Minority Hiring in the Silicon Valley.”  Guillermo Diaz will be speaking on a CIO Rapid Innovation Roundtable, and receiving HITEC’s Estrella Award. I will be participating in a panel of peers at Facebook and Lockheed Martin focused on EROs. Further, several members of Cisco’s Executive Leadership Team, which is 62% diverse, will attend, including Rebecca Jacoby, Cisco’s Chief of Operations, who will be speaking at the HITEC 100 Recognition Gala, which Cisco is sponsoring.

Most significantly, our interconnected partnerships will enable us to share best practices, heighten awareness around the value of diversity, and forge relationships that improve inclusion and collaboration in high-tech enterprises.

I can’t wait to see the progress made by the end of this week.


Anne-Marie Azzi

Marketing Manager

Services Sales Enablement