18 Years at Cisco, On Purpose.

May 17, 2018 - 19 Comments
Contributors: Jill Shaul

I’ve been here for 18 years. On purpose.

People ask me why. Recruiters speculate that I’m lazy (pfff) while coworkers call me crazy (not really, or at least not often, but it rhymed so nicely). 😉 The most important person who asks me this question is me.

Many of us find ourselves asking, “Why work?” And, it’s true that most of us work because there are bills to pay. But, beyond that – it goes deeper. And, yet, the answer for me is simple: working makes me a better human being. While the thought of being a stay at home mom certainly tugged at me a few times, what I learn during challenging meetings, tough conversations, and the moments that make me exclaim “Did that just happen?” in the middle of a brainstorming session – it all makes me better at relationships. All of my relationships.

So why am I still at Cisco? There are the obvious reasons like autonomy, flexibility, money, having many careers without leaving the company, yada, yada (we’re not getting through this blog together if you don’t get Seinfeld quotes). 😉

So let me instead share the small things that keep me here. The real things you may not have heard before. The moments that matter to me.

1. Unleashed Creativity. Do you have a word for 2018? Just ONE word that sets your intention for these next 12 months? My word for this year is unleashed. My desire and ability to authentically create (read: not sound like everyone else) was trapped for some time. But today I am free to be creative in ways I never imagined possible in corporate life.  I am UNLEASHED to be me and to fulfill my purpose. Cisco helped unleash this vibe in me, and it even extends to my Out of Office message – see for yourself!

2. Endless Learning. I am a bit of a self-growth junkie, and I find something to learn in every situation. At Cisco I can learn, teach, and share almost anything with my co-workers. From influencing, coding, writing, presenting, and everything in between – if you can dream it? Here you can BE it, explore it, learn it, and share it. My favorite lessons are the ones that I learned from others and use every day – and I love working in a place where this happens constantly. Need 17 lessons I’ve learned in 17 years? I’ve got those.

3. Life happens. Those moments in life that require me to drop everything and run home, or have a good cry – could be more stressful if I had to ask permission. From “small” moments like when my little one broke her arm, to larger moments like the loss of my mom, and even global tragedies like September 11th my team has my back, and allows me to take the time I need without question. What makes this flexibility possible is, well, Cisco. Our “policies” put people before policies so there is no hesitation to do what is right for each other when life happens.

Which may lead to the one thing you hear from just about EVERY Cisco employee on why they #LoveWhereYouWork…

4. My tribe. There are people at Cisco who have forever changed my life with their love, support, and friendship. They are my FRIENDS, not just “work friends” or “co-workers” – I would call upon them if I needed them for anything. I’m an introvert and a bit of a misfit so finding deep friendships with people that share my values and snarky sense of humor is truly extraordinary. That I was able to do this at, of all places, WORK? Is amazing. It is a truly unique experience and I am so grateful to have found my tribe at Cisco.

5. A small group can make a big difference. A few years ago, three employees said, “Our culture isn’t great and we have to change it.” Then Cisco did a crazy thing – they LISTENED to us and CHANGED our culture. It’s called Our People Deal. To put it simply, it’s the culture we create together every day. The moment our Chief HR Officer Fran Katsoudas stood on stage and shared a portrait of Alex’s journey (Alex represented the ups and downs of all employees), I recommitted myself to Cisco with an enthusiastic “I’M ALL IN. BRING IT!”

Just three people, and leadership that listened, created a massive change at a company with 73,000 people. This inspired an entire MOVEMENT, and it’s been incredible to watch and be a part of.

6. Airing of the Grievances. Is every day around here fantastic? Absolutely not! But even on the occasional day where I don’t absolutely love my job? I love this company. I love what Cisco stands for. I love our individual and collective voices – and that they are heard, appreciated, encouraged, and celebrated.

I love the social impact we’re making. I love that it shares my value of listening and being better, not to be “the best” but to make our small square of the world a better place to live in.

I love that we’re expected to be the best versions of ourselves, and that we’re empowered to do just that.

Some people get stuck in their careers for 18 years. I’m proud to say that I’ve stayed, on purpose.

Want to #LoveWhereYouWork? We’re hiring. Apply Now.


In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. This post is why you are a rockstar.

  2. Thank you Jill. Great article. It's encouraging to me to read of a seasoned Cisco employee that is still "loving" their relationship with Cisco. I am new here, only a few months, and it is definitely my favorite place to work so far in my career but I have wondered if the "love" wears away. Great to hear that it can last a long time with the right focus, motivation and dedication.

  3. My heart is full! Thank you for the thoughtful comments that further confirm I'm in the right place with the right people.

  4. Great blog Jill. I love to see your personality in writing. I would say you write like you talk 🙂

  5. Thank you, Jill, for your post! Appreciate your sentiments and am still part of "your tribe", only now the next concentric circle out as part of your former Cisco/current Cisco ecosystem. Mazeltov on 18 years!

  6. Absolutely love this post – your work, your terms, long term. Your tribe is a lucky tribe! Brava, Jill! 🙂

  7. Jill
    Thanks so much for sharing a deep and so very personal part of your experience working (and living as a human being) at Cisco. Each and everyone of us has to find a reason for why we are here at Cisco when we come to work everyday and often, buried in the work, the milestones, the deadlines we lose site of the forest through the trees and the big Why. Having the opportunity to learn even more about what keeps you at Cisco both bring me pride to be part of your tribe and gives me courage to more openly share my story as well with others. #KnowWhy 😉

  8. Your energy and enthusiasm is contagious. You're one of the most inspiring people that I know, and Cisco is lucky to have you!

  9. Bravo! Wonderfully written! We are lucky to have found a home in Cisco.

  10. I love your energy and sentiment Jill and I am proud to be part of your 'tribe'.
    Cisco is an amazing company – of course there are challenges throughout an 18 year tenure, but the sun is always shining somewhere in the corporation… you either have to go and find it, or you have to just get down to helping to create it yourself. It looks like the sun is shining particularly brightly in your corner of the Boxborough office right now and I just know from having met you that you are, in part at least, responsible for creating that!

    So come work for Cisco… if you are lucky enough, you might get to work for, with, or even just in proximity to someone like Jill.
    Come and feel the love.

  11. Great article and congrats on your tenure at Cisco! Great folks there and it has been my pleasure to get to know several of your colleagues.

  12. What a creative story and so great to hear from someone obviously loves their company, culture and job. You've inspired me to review open marketing roles at Cisco that may be a fit for my expertise. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Jill – I am so proud to know you, to be challenged by you, and to support you! You are in the exact place you were meant to be and helping to create more of the change that drives you and many others! Thank you for your candor, your empathy, and for being you! Can't wait to see what's next!

  14. You are an inspiration to me every day! Thank you for your kindness, leadership, joy and brilliance – we are so lucky to have you on this Cisco journey!

  15. Congratulations on your 18 year career at Cisco. I am truly honored to work under your leadership. You bring out the best in others and always do it with a smile. Thank you for all that you have done to make Cisco a better place to work. #WeAreCisco

  16. Congrats, Jill, on the 18 years, on your own terms. It's amazing that you've been here since shortly after planet earth survived the apocalyptic Y2K fallout. 🙂 Keep up the good fight.

  17. I love that you are here "on purpose", Jill. Congratulations on your anniversary!

  18. I love being a part of the Cisco Tribe, and also your tribe. 🙂 Cuz you're awesome, and Cisco is lucky to have your passion and amazing-ness. Mwha!

  19. Love 🙂