Cisco Live is Cisco’s world-renowned user conference that brings Cisco’s customers, partners, prospects and industry-leading technology innovators together for an exhilarating week of education, networking and inspiration.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cisco was forced to move its annual flagship conference to a fully digital experience. In June 2022, however, Cisco hosted a hybrid Cisco Live event, which allowed us to finally reconnect in person in Las Vegas for the conference.

After nearly two years of virtual events, it was incredible to experience the magic of an in-person event again. The energy throughout the entire week was palpable as our Global Advocacy team finally reconnected with each other and customers from around the world. I recently had a wonderful chat with our very own Advocacy Manager for the Americas region, Allison Putnam, to learn a bit more about her first Cisco Live experience.

Welcome, Allison! It’s so great to chat with you today! I’m excited to hear what you thought about your first Cisco Live experience. Let’s kick things off by learning a little bit about who you are?

Thanks for having me, Jess! I’m a Florida native who just moved back home to Tampa after spending a few fun-filled years in Austin, Texas. It’s so nice to be close to the beach (and my family) again! When I’m not working, you can find me trying a new restaurant or getting some fresh air on a walk along the bay.

On a professional level, I just joined Cisco in March of this year as Advocacy Manager for the Americas. It has been amazing getting to work with everyone on the Advocacy team, as well as our customers.

Thanks for the wonderful introduction, Allison! We’re so lucky to have you on the team. Now I’m curious, what is it that brought you to Cisco’s Advocacy organization?

After graduating from the University of Florida, I joined a business development organization at another large tech company. While I always knew that I would end up on a marketing path, one major thing I pulled from that sales experience was that I absolutely loved talking to customers and hearing their stories. I eventually made the jump back into marketing with my primary focus being on SaaS vendors. A common theme kept emerging through all my projects: the importance of the customer. When I first learned what advocacy was from a former colleague, I was like, “Wait – you get to connect with customers and build meaningful relationships with them daily?” It really excited me. So, when the opportunity to work on advocacy at a company like Cisco came up, it was a no brainer!

Cisco’s Global Advocacy team at Cisco Live Las Vegas, 2022

Exactly! Building meaningful relationships with our customers is at the heart of our Advocacy mission. Now, tell us a little bit about your first Cisco Live experience in sunny (and very dry) Las Vegas. What was your role onsite?

Happy to be here! My role at Cisco Live was essentially to recruit new customers and partners to join our advocacy community, called Cisco Insider Advocates. I met so many interesting people from all over the world who have already made a great addition to this community. Getting to hang out with our existing advocates and Rockstars was just another perk!

I couldn’t agree more. There is nothing quite like getting to interact with our customers in-person! For any Cisco customers who weren’t able to attend Cisco Live and stop by the Cisco Insider booth, can you share a little bit about what this program is and how they can participate?

The Cisco Insider program is made up of four groups with a common interest in mind: a passion for Cisco. Whether one wants to participate in research opportunities or engage with a community of industry peers, there is something for everyone. If you’re interested in learning about each group within Cisco Insider, check out this link.

When it comes to the Cisco Insider program, it sounds like there’s definitely something for every Cisco customer or partner, depending on what their interest and availability is. We’ve often heard Cisco customers say, “The Cisco Insider Advocates hub is like having a bit of Cisco Live in your pocket 365 days a year.” Can you explain what they mean by that for folks who may not be familiar with the Cisco Insider Advocates community?

That is spot on! The Cisco Insider Advocates hub is the place to be for staying up to date with all things Cisco in an easy, digestible way. It provides an amazing opportunity to network with industry peers from around the globe. It’s a win-win because the advocates get rewarded for participating and sharing tech insights.

That definitely sounds like a win-win! Are Cisco employees allowed to get in on this?! Just kidding, of course. Now, back to Cisco Live. In your opinion, what value do you see in Cisco Live for our top customer and partner advocates? What is there to be gained from attending, either virtually or in-person?

When I think of Cisco Live, I think of two things: knowledge and connection. The great thing about it is that there are so many sessions to choose from, depending on what topics one is interested in. A lot of the sessions are led by Cisco engineers and leaders, so you’re getting details straight from the source. On the connection piece, there is the opportunity to meet so many peers at Cisco Live. Whether it’s striking up a conversation with someone on the walk to the keynote or bumping into a fellow Rockstar at the Cisco Insider Advocates booth, you never know who you could meet and how the conversations could impact you.

The amazing thing about this hybrid world we live in is the ability to have events like these held virtually, simultaneously. Imagine drinking a cup of coffee in your home office while listening to a Cisco executive deliver a keynote at Cisco Live – what a world! Who would have thought this would be the norm 15 years ago? In addition, our Cisco Live experience within the Cisco Insider Advocates hub helped a lot of our advocates stay engaged despite not being able to attend. We even set up a Webex space for those advocates attending virtually. I know I loved checking in to see what sessions everyone was getting excited about!

I couldn’t have said it better myself! I absolutely loved connecting with everyone in person again at Cisco Live, but if I had not been able to make it, I would have been quite content watching some of the sessions in my pajamas with a nice cup of coffee in hand.

Before I let you go, I’ve saved the best question for last! What was your favorite aspect of your Cisco Live experience? Are you ready for the next one?

Oh, I’m ready! I’m excited to be back in Las Vegas next year.

My favorite part of Cisco Live was meeting our wonderful advocates in person! It was awesome to see them pop into the lounge for a quick bite to eat between sessions or just sit back and relax for a bit to escape the excitement of Cisco Live. I think the neat thing about it was getting to see Cisco Live through their eyes. I loved hearing what sessions they found valuable and what they want to see more of next year, so we can make it an even better event.

I love what you said about seeing Cisco Live through their eyes! If there are any Cisco advocates reading this, just know that you are what makes this event so special.

Allison, it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you today. Thank you again for joining us!

You’re welcome, Jess!


Join us!

For those Cisco customers who haven’t yet joined our Cisco Insider Advocates community, consider doing so. You’ll be able to:

  • Connect with peers in a gamified, online community
  • Have an opportunity to meet with Cisco’s executives
  • Share your feedback, questions, and best practices
  • Get access to ‘insider’ content and resources
  • Grow your professional and personal brand
  • Amplify your company’s success story with Cisco technology

Ready to get started?

Head over to the community and say hello!


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Jessica Highsmith

Communications Manager

Global Customer Advocacy