Cisco’s Connected Black Professionals: The Power of One
Are you a lifelong learner? Perhaps you’re hungry for more knowledge or just need an avenue in which to share your experiences and expertise or a place where you’ll find others to help keep you motivated and on the course to achieving your dreams. Maybe a Cisco Employee Resource Organization (ERO) is for you!
Cisco’s Employee Resource Organizations engage, empower and transform Cisco employees both on a personal and a community level. I have had the incredible opportunity to serve as the Professional Development Lead for Cisco’s Connected Black Professionals (CBP) in Atlanta. Cisco Connected Black Professionals is one of 10 EROs. We have chapters worldwide including the US, UK, and Kenya.
I love that being a part of this ERO makes me feel more connected to my fellow Cisco co-workers because it is a great way to expand my network, share candid discussions with peers of similar backgrounds and experiences, and be a part of Cisco’s Inclusion and Collaboration strategy that will ultimately help attract and retain top black talent. Our theme this year is “Power of One” –one person, one organization, or one partnership to transform the world. Although I am one individual, through Cisco and CBP, I see additional opportunities to make a difference both at work and in my community.
In February, the CBP Live Black History event took place. It was a phenomenal and invigorating experience! Informative and collaborative sessions were held, and actress/comedian Kim Coles and Carla Harris of Morgan Stanley – a 20+ Year Wall Street veteran – shared words of wisdom with the community and guests. Kim Coles left us with an inspiring message to, “Meet each other where we are! Unique, weird & special.” This is one of the many reasons why I love where I work – Cisco truly does embrace everyone for their individuality!
It is never too late to sharpen and develop new skills, and Cisco provides us all excellent opportunities not only through the Learning & Development Organization, but also by encouraging a variety of engaging events for us to attend and connect over – similar to the one I mentioned above. I love helping to inspire and motivate others to see beyond where they may be currently in life to really challenge and stretch themselves into new horizons, and I feel CBP has really motivated me to continue this path.
So many of us are hungry for more – more knowledge, more networking, more acceptance – and I’m happy to say that I have found all those things and more here at Cisco. Throughout my continued passions of working in STEM with local high schools and colleges, volunteering with Junior Achievement, and encouraging others to grow many want to know what they can do to be successful. This is what I tell them…
- Don’t let your setbacks hold you back. I was a stellar student in high school, but despite being raised by great, caring parents in a small town community I still found myself pregnant at the young age of 17. Through encouragement from my family and believing in myself, I was able to graduate high school on time, 4th in my class, and obtained a partial scholarship to jump start my education in Engineering. Today, I have my BS in Electrical Engineering as well as an MBA. I also have a wonderful, supportive husband and family. If I had allowed my circumstances to dictate how my life went, I may not be where I am today. Persevering and going after what you want, no matter what, are great attributes to have.
- Be courageous. Many times, we absolutely LOVE our comfort zones. But being comfortable for too long can stagnate growth. It takes courage (especially for an introvert like me) to try new things and meet new people. But the rewards are great.
- The world is waiting on you, so what are YOU waiting on? We all have wonderful gifts and talents. I believe that our gifts and talents were not given to us to ‘hoard’ for only ourselves. But they are meant to inspire, encourage, or help the masses in diverse ways. We all may not have a big stage, but we all can serve one another in many ways.
Want to #LoveWhereYouWork and where you’re encouraged to inspire others? Join us!