Beyond the Bottom Line
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver
My first day in business school, I was confident that the last place I wanted to end up in was Corporate America. I pictured it as a place entirely cut off from the rest of the planet, where everyone is strapped to their desk for eight plus hours, and occasionally takes a break to beat their chest like the movie Wolf of Wall Street, celebrating how much money they are making.
To be honest, accepting a job at Cisco wasn’t something that I was sure about. I was worried that moving 500 miles from home for a 9-5 desk job as an analyst would make me unhappy and that it would take time away from what I found most important in life: traveling, being close with nature, volunteering at local prisons to host writing workshops, and spending time with loved ones.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
My first week as a Cisco Intern I was assigned to work in Supplier Diversity, an area within Procurement that focuses on embracing Cisco’s value of inclusion through working to increase spend with diverse businesses. These businesses must be at least 51% owned by United States citizens who are minorities, women, service disabled, veterans, or located in Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) zones to be considered diverse. Supplier diversity is important because it not only helps Cisco drive competition and enable innovation, but it highlights Cisco commitment to the economic growth of all communities.
The people that surrounded me each day were ones who cared about using the financial advantages of a for-profit company to attempt positively impacting all members of society. Throughout the next three months, my teammates and I helped create a plan to extend Cisco’s Supplier Diversity program into more countries outside of the United States. I had the privilege to work with experts in the field and gain a better understanding of what “diversity” means cross-culturally.
On top of meaningful work, I also realized the work-life balance Cisco provided was incredible. I traveled all over the west coast every weekend of my internship. From hiking Yosemite with daring slackliners to catching the solar eclipse in Portland, I never once felt like I was giving up what was important to me for a paycheck.
After a positive summer experience, when I was offered a full-time Procurement role in Raleigh, North Carolina with Cisco, I took it.
On my first day, I received a journal mailed from my manager at our San Jose headquarters with a handwritten note, “We are happy you are here”. Our team was also encouraged to read “Permission to Screw Up”, a novel about a young woman starting a business who learned it’s ok to not be perfect. Entering the workplace to an organization that was actively trying to combat professional perfectionism was refreshing.
Since starting at Cisco, I’ve joined Cisco Pride (an Employee Resource Organization) and marched in Durham’s local Pride Parade. I’ve worked remotely to spend time with family in another state, taken trips to Colorado and Virginia with Cisco friends, and explored the amazing beaches and mountains that North Carolina has to offer. Soon I will have time to start hosting more workshops in local incarceration facilities and am working with Cisco’s Networking Academy to explore the option of bringing technology courses to local prisons. Cisco has created many opportunities I hadn’t imagined I would experience as a graduating business student.
Since I was young, I’ve always thought the greatest value a person has is how much good they can bring to the world. Growing up, it seems that one of the most tangible ways a person can positively impact the world is to look at how their own actions affect the people and systems they touch. The best way to improve the world is to make sure we see our ideal world reflected in our own actions. No person or corporation is perfect, but Cisco and I seem to agree that we should start with ourselves and take responsibility for the way we choose to contribute to the world around us.
Cisco continues to exceed my expectations, and my Cisco family reminds me of how important it is to look beyond the bottom line.
Often times routine can distance a person from how their decisions impact the rest of the world, but here at Cisco people realize that our actions will have a ripple effect far beyond our scope of work. It is our job to pay attention to what our community, society, and planet needs, and hold ourselves and each other accountable to the progress we make towards these goals.
Want to join a company that cares? We’re hiring. Apply now.