When I was six years old, I received my first world map on which I used to trace the routes of our frequent family visits to India. I’d move my finger from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (where my family lived) up to London, then over to Abu Dhabi on connecting flights, and finally to Mumbai where we would spend our long summer vacations.
Along the way, the mystical feeling of the cool British air, the dry desert heat of the Middle East, and the warm rains of the Indian monsoons made an impact. I realized upon that first trace of the map that I had jumped to the other side of the world – I was amazed.
As the years went by, I became even more intrigued and excited by what else existed beyond my borders and frequented my library’s travel section more and more. My wanderlust never ceased.
In 2005, I joined as an engineer in the Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP) and as I entered the badging office, a friend told me, “You know the Cisco ID taps you into every office, right? And that’s not just here in the United States!”
My jaw dropped in awe.
With my badge also came my newly issued corporate laptop where I had access to our entire Cisco global directory of colleagues. I suddenly imagined the possibilities and the people I could meet on my future travels. From there, any opportunity I had for time off or some fortunate work trips abroad, I would begin to scan the Cisco directory.
It was a bit like cold-calling for new friends, except that these weren’t your typical cold-calls. The Cisco connection is a powerful, warm, and welcoming bond between two strangers, and with a presence in every country on the planet – I knew I would have immediate “friends” on each adventure. Each time, I would send 8-9 emails at random to random Cisco employees to introduce myself, tell them about my role, my team, and my travel plans to where they lived. My hope was that someone would respond with “let me show you around while you’re here” or “join my family and me for dinner” – and, true to the Cisco family’s nature – this is quite often what happened.
My Cisco badge became my passport.
It was an instant access to every office we have around the world, and with the help of Cisco AnyConnect, Webex Teams, and Extension Mobility – my office was suddenly anywhere I had an internet connection. From Chicago to Buenos Aires, London, Stockholm, Casablanca, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Mumbai, and Beijing – there was nearly nowhere I couldn’t travel on Earth without Cisco opening the door to a new experience.
With the goal of traveling to every country, I’m well on my way. In the past 14 years, I’ve traveled to 56 countries and have met new Cisco friends in 21. I have experienced some amazing things: from celebrating Korité (the end of Ramadan) in Senegal, to exploring China’s hutongs (narrow streets and alleys), volunteering in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, envisioning the future with a fortune teller in Hong Kong, going out for a pint in England, partying in Mexico for Carnival, cooking Tajine in Morocco, sampling street food in Kenya and more with the hospitality of our Cisco family.
Through it all, I’ve learned that people are intrinsically welcoming and looking to share their culture as much as I love to share mine.
So, what’s next? I am planning a number of new trips in the next year and would love nothing more than to continue to visit our Cisco family as I travel and fill my website with exciting pictures of each new adventure.
Connecting with and sharing a meal with Cisco friends around the world helps me gain an insight into a country’s landscape, economy, culture, and traditions. It fills my stomach, my soul, and my understanding of the world…something my 6-year-old-self longed for and dreamed of.
With friends like family, Cisco really is a home away from home – and our ID badges are truly our passport to the world.
Interested in seeing if I am coming to your country or where my ‘Cisco passport’ will take me next? Feel free to reach out to me to see if we can have a meal together soon!
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