Big life changes are nerve-wracking, aren’t they? After running my own interior design company for over 10 years, I jumped into a totally different industry and joined AppDynamics (which is part of Cisco’s Cloud Portfolio) about one year ago. Having a different background from most of my coworkers and being, frankly, quite a bit older than many of them, I wondered if I would fit in and find a group of people with whom I felt comfortable being myself.
It was a huge transition for me, to say the least, and it took me a little while to get my bearings in a very technical environment where I was learning acronyms as fast as humanly possible. Before long I knew the difference between API (Application Programming Interface) and APM (Application Performance Management) and was delivering ROI (Return on Investment) by improving ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue). And while I was getting to know my coworkers and making friends, I still didn’t have a group where I felt like I totally fit in.
Having worked out of my home when I ran my business for a long time, I was excited to attend all of the employee events and community activities that I could fit into my schedule. My very first exposure to the Pride@AppDynamics team came during June’s Pride month in San Francisco. A group of about 40 AppDynamos and our families joined Cisco’s Pride ERO (Employee Resource Organization) in the Pride parade, and the energy and excitement were contagious!
At that moment I was incredibly proud to work for such an inclusive company and surrounded by my new friends we danced all the way down the parade route, waving our rainbow flags.
That day gave me a taste of the belonging I had been searching for and energized me to seek out more. Last October I even led the creation of a panel discussion for National Coming Out Day. It was a scary prospect to get up in front of our office and tell everyone my coming out story, but I (and the rest of the panel) was met with only compassion, understanding and curiosity from our teammates. It was incredibly rewarding, and people still tell me it was the most impactful employee event they have been to.
As standalone experiences, these moments gave me a deeper connection to my coworkers and allowed us to relate on a human level which is not always possible in day-to-day meetings. Becoming more involved in our Pride team has given me a place where I can not only fit in but shine in the ways that make me unique. Bringing my strengths to that team has helped it grow and flourish, and it has opened new doors for me both personally and professionally.
Part of my growth has led me to connect more deeply with the larger Cisco Pride ERO as we work together on expanding our awareness in what is happening around the company and the community – and how we can collaborate together. Recently, we partnered with Cisco Pride and two other Cisco companies, Meraki and Duo, to send a contingent to the Lesbians Who Tech (LWT) Summit.
The two days I spent at LWT were a whirlwind of impactful speakers, thought-provoking workshops and most of all, endless connections with open-minded people of all colors, genders, ages and backgrounds. Though I met many new people, the deepest connections I made were with my extended Cisco Pride family. We all came together as acquaintances, but I felt a sense of community and support bringing us closer together. We may have been four different companies at one time, but now – we are ! 😊
Because of Cisco sponsoring our involvement in LWT, our Pride teams are now in much closer collaboration, and we are working together across the country to get inspired, educated and push forward on our diversity and inclusion goals.
I recently changed roles to manage a brand-new Employee Engagement team and as I develop our charter and goals, I think of my experience throughout our Pride team. If I can help other employees to find their own community and get that sense of belonging that I have felt, I know we will succeed, and drive employee happiness throughout the company.
I’m confident there is a community for everyone, if we’re willing to reach out and connect.
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