Looking back – I was a happy, comfortable Duke University graduate living the life in North Carolina. I was heavily involved in my alumni community, and I had my incredible Cisco family that always had my back.
But this ‘Girl Raised in the South’ (or G.R.I.T.S – yes, the acronym for strong southern women and an iconic Southern dish are one in the same) was about to make a very big move. It was time. And while I knew virtually no one in New York City, I packed my Hyundai Sonata to the brim and headed North to begin my career as a Public Sector Account Manager.
My career at Cisco began in February of 2017 as a Virtual Sales Account Manager (in training). Later that year, I graduated from training and was placed into a virtual account management role working for the New York Upstate Government Team from the Cisco offices in Raleigh, NC.
Everything was going great, and life was good! But I also knew that I wanted to grow further in my career and start working with my clients on a more in-person, day-to-day basis. So, I got to work devising a plan with my manager at the time on how we could make this happen. That’s the thing about Cisco, our leaders always want their employees and teams to keep growing and pursuing their dreams!
It wasn’t easy, and it took a lot of initiative and determination on my part. Finally, after meeting with every regional manager on Anthony Berlucchi’s team via Webex and receiving coaching from other account managers throughout Cisco – I learned of a position available for the Long Island/NYC territory. This was it!
Sure, I was a little scared that this opportunity would take me out of the comforts I’ve come to know and love in North Carolina. But I knew this role was the challenge I was looking for, and that I would have the support of Cisco every step of the way.
In July 2018, it became official – and I began to pack my car to head North with my boyfriend (now husband) helping me to make the move. With only what could fit in the car, our first stop was to pick up some curtains and an air mattress. Two days later, he returned to North Carolina and I was on my own.
It would take a while to get settled and feel at home, but my clients, the Cisco NYC team, and our business resellers and partners have helped to make the transition seamless.
A lot has changed since I moved to New York – I’ve grown more confident in my skills and embraced the journey as it unfolds. And, one year after my move, I was back in North Carolina – this time to help my husband pack all his belongings into a rented Chevy Suburban for the journey North.
Thinking of taking a bold step in your career? Here’s my advice:
1. Interview your manager to make sure you are a good fit for each other: If you’re looking to explore new roles or teams at Cisco, perhaps try a stretch assignment on that team or in that field. But I think it’s also a good idea to meet with the manager of that team and get to know them! My current manager Frank and I had worked together before, so I was more than confident that we would work well together this time too.
At Cisco we have a tool called TeamSpace which helps us to understand each other’s strengths and how we can work better, together. I am a pioneer/connector while Frank is an advisor/influencer. I can often get excited about what lies ahead as well as the fun of connecting and meeting new people, while Frank makes sure to keep me in track, on pace and on target. This is just one of the ways we work well together.
2. Understand the culture of where you’re moving: I’ve lived in a few different places, but they were all mostly in the South. However, I can tell you that conducting business in Georgia or Texas is very different from how you might conduct business and manage relationships in New York.
These places are all fantastic places, but they are also all very different. Make sure you do your research ahead of time and learn about not only what your work environment might be, but what the environment and culture of the city/state you’re moving to might be as well.
3. Look at the Diversity & Inclusion Numbers of an organization. I knew that as a young, woman of color in the tech industry, I wanted to work for a team and organization that would respect my background and ideas. I am happy to work for one of the most diverse and inclusive teams at Cisco! It’s important to me that diversity at Cisco is taken seriously from the top down, and we’re all encouraged to embrace our differences to help make us stronger.
Going from G.R.I.T.S. to taking on the Big Apple, and growing my career at Cisco, all before I turn thirty has been such a rewarding experience. I couldn’t have done it without my leadership, mentors, and colleagues – as well as Cisco’s culture that is dedicated to investing in its employees and ensuring we’re using our strengths every day.
And, to think, I’m just getting started!
Ready to grow your career with us? We’re hiring. Apply now!
Follow Bree on Twitter: @breejord