In early July, I read a blog about two Cisco Interns, best friends starting their career together at Cisco – and I smiled. My mind immediately flashed back to a summer 12 years ago where two young girls stood nervously in line. 800 men and women joined us as we waited to interview in a “speed dating-esque” round table. DING DING- SWITCH! We sheepishly grinned at each other and started talking as we waited for our turn.
“Where are you from?” I asked?
She smiled and said, “North Carolina.” in a very clear European accent.
“Really?” I asked.
“OK Kyrgyzstan” she said with a grin, “but North Carolina is my home now.”
“Awesome, I am from New York,” I informed her, “but I’d love to call it home too if I get the job!”
Although perfect strangers from opposite sides of the world, that fateful day we formed a friendship not knowing what would happen next would completely change the course of both of our lives forever.
That young lady was Lesia Greene, and fate was on our side – we both got the job, and began our careers at Cisco in the Global Academy. Our cubicles positioned side by side we studied together, learned together, lunched together, and laughed together. We became best friends, and proud graduates of the Cisco ASR Program, CCSE and CCDA certified and were ready to begin our lives at Cisco.
Our celebration commencement was at Cisco Live in San Francisco. We excitedly watched then CEO John Chambers – our corporate hero – with hope and enthusiasm. We were now officially a part of the team and vision in changing the way the world lived, worked, played and learned. We soaked in the moment, taking it all in.
As we walked down the stage we caught another glimpse of John and our pace slowed, not sure if we should make eye contact or not. He smiled at us and said, “You must be our ASR’s!” We laughed – which signaled that the answer was, “Yes!” and he invited us to come over and talk. We were truly taken with the moment in how our then CEO was actively curious about what new graduates thought of the company, and what we could do to improve.
Through the years that followed, Lesia moved to Seattle and I stayed in North Carolina – both in sales roles. We spoke often and never lost touch. We even celebrated my 25th Birthday together in the Bahamas! We reunited when she became homesick as she missed the NC culture and moved back to a new role in Operations.
Throughout our careers, as it so often happens, life evolved – and so did we. We celebrated joys and heartbreaks. We lost loved ones and comforted each other. I broke both of my arms, and she fed me ice cream and nursed me back to health. We even celebrated our mom’s birthdays together every year as they share the same March 4 Birthday! I also bought the world’s biggest, fluffiest bunny before I excitedly drove to the hospital as she welcomed her first daughter Maya (and was there for every chicken nugget craving leading up to that moment when her husband Bobby was away.)
The boy I was seeing, became my fiancé, and eventually my husband, Jay. Lesia was a beautiful bridesmaid in my wedding who stood by my side and wiped my tears. Jay and I then went on to have not one, but two daughters, Brooklyn and Cali, and Lesia had twins – Ava and Max!
We have spent the past 11 ½ years pursuing a career we love, building fulfilling lives – professionally and personally. And with every moment, we had our best friend by our side. Could it be any better? To the young girls starting your careers – enjoy every moment of this amazing company and your friendship.
I wanted to share with you some valuable lessons I have learned along the way:
- If you happen to dress alike from time to time, #Twinning is #Winning when it’s with your bestie! Do everything in life with conviction and a smile.
- Having a friend who is a colleague is mutually beneficial for best practice sharing, team building, and constructive feedback on how to improve from someone who can and will be honest with you no matter what.
- If you find yourself living far away from one another (I now live in NY) – you will be happy there are technology companies like Cisco that make amazing communication tools to stay connected with everyone in the world – no matter where you are!
- You never know where life will take you, and in a blink of an eye you will look back and smile at the growth of your careers, your families, and of course, your friendship.
Want to find your best self – and maybe a best friend – at a great company? See open roles at Cisco here.