Grace Hopper Celebration 2015: Build the future. Make your mark

October 20, 2015 - 52 Comments

Cisco has been attending the Grace Hopper Celebration for 6 years and this year, we were proud to show our long-standing dedication to this conference by partnering at the highest level as a Visionary Diamond Sponsor. Cisco has been working with the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) since 2006, and I recently joined the ABI Board of Trustees. The conference saw 12,000 excited attendees in Houston, Texas from October 14-16 and we were delighted to be a part of it all.

Grace Hopper 2015


“To Cisco, Grace Hopper is more than a conference, it’s an opportunity for personal and professional development for all attendees to experience Cisco as an industry-leading and incredible place for women to advance their technical careers and showcase our culture of innovation to secure the best talent out there!”

This year our executive sponsors, VP of Engineering Liz Centoni & VP of Human Resources, Engineering Christine Bastian represented Cisco on my behalf with a coalition of 300 energized Cisco employees from Engineering, Services, IT, Sales, Supply Chain, Corporate Strategy & Operations.

Liz Centoni & Christine Bastian

Our #CiscoGHC booth made an electrifying splash and was quite the buzz in the community fair that week. The unveiling of Penelope proved that the spirit of innovation knows no bounds and we will collectively change the world while breaking a few ceilings along the way. This year’s theme for the Grace Hopper conference was #OurTimeToLead, to which we added our own theme that we wanted to share: ‘Build the future. Make your mark.’ Our theme exemplifies the importance of empowering ourselves to aim high to achieve our goals, to dream and to follow our passion.


Our booth attracted many people all three days, hungry to learn more about why Cisco is different and to see why we are leaders in the industry. These are some of the exciting activities at our booth:

  • Meet and Greet appointments with our Executives
  • Submitting resumes/scheduling interviews with our wonderful Talent Acquisitions Team
  • Participating in a creative Social Media Scavenger Hunt
  • Scanning Cisco cards found in the conference swag bag to discover if they are winners to some cool Cisco swag
  • Braving long lines (1.5 hours wait) to design and print their own screen tees
  • Checking out our fun demos like augmented reality glasses.
  • Taking pics with Penelope & using our #ILookLikeAnEngineer & #CiscoGHC frames for social media

Unknown-4 Screen Ts Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.21.53 PM Penelope

Suffice to say, our audience was captivated and couldn’t wait to soak it all in. Our long lines were an opportune time for our Cisco volunteers to connect with attendees by simply having conversations about why Cisco is an amazing company to work for.  Our goal for this conference was two-fold: advance and retain technical women at Cisco and continue to attract talented women in technology. For those of us who already work at Cisco, we believe that we have the ingredients to foster innovation and our culture is primed for the future of women innovators in the industry.

Networking Reception 1

Our booth vibe was definitely thrilling, however, we still had a few more highlights to share. Our Networking Reception on Day 1 of the conference was a huge hit. With an attendance of 700 people we wanted an evening to celebrate Cisco’s culture of innovation. It was a night filled with delectable desserts, giveaways of Cisco swag, Cisco WISE photo booth, sharing inspirational quotes, and of course a raffle with an Apple Watch prize.  Executives and engineers from all levels at Cisco attended to connect with attendees and shared their experiences and the type of opportunities that exist for women to innovate and excel at Cisco. We were striving for a lively environment where networking and discussing how we can be a part of transforming the way the world lives, works and plays was at the forefront.

Networking Reception 4Networking Reception 2Networking Reception 7Networking Reception 6

Another engaging highlight was our Cisco sponsored #IoT Tech Node with Liz Centoni, VP of Engineering,  Judy Priest, Cisco Distinguished Engineer and Jeannie Albrecht, Professor of Williams College.

Triple Threat

Our session was a very popular choice and was at capacity 10 mins after the door opened. The goal for this session was to introduce #IoT through real world examples and highlight key technology enablement. We wanted to create excitement and encourage attendees to walk away knowing that the opportunity for solving business problem with IoT is limitless.The most memorable part of the session was our surprise game of ‘Cards Against Humanity, #IoT edition’. The attendees exuberantly played the game and the room was filled with uncontrollable laughter.

Cards Against Humanity


Our goals were to share the Cisco culture with those attending the Grace Hopper Celebration – We feel strongly that we came together as One Cisco and accomplished that and so much more. The event was not only a huge success but we hoped to make a huge impact in advocating and inspiring the next generation of women technologists. Watch the video below to see an interview with Liz by Jeff Frick from theCUBE.

I have always said that “Women Engineers make an Infinite Difference” – our sponsorship of the Grace Hopper Celebration truly highlights that philosophy. Changing culture means it has to happen from within, are you ready to follow your dreams of innovation and be part of that change? We can do it together!

Cisco FUN

Guest contributors: Liz Centoni & Christine Bastian.

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  1. An outstanding recap of the event! Grace Hopper Conference is truly an amazing experience! You can hardly help but be inspired when you see 12K women from across the insdustry come together to talk about innovation and all the possibilities.

    Anyone who reads the blog above can clearly see Cisco is committed to women in engineering, the innovations they will bring to the industry in the future, and the mark these innovations will leave on our society going forward.

    I am humbled to be apart of the amazing team of people at Cisco who brought Penelope to life. Penelope is the innovator that resides within each of us so if you are interested in building a bright future for yourself and the world- Come Join us at Cisco! I am looking forward to a bright 2016 and beyond!

  2. Very proud that Cisco is one of the Diamond Sponsors for such an empowering and fun conference. The keynotes and leadership sessions were really inspiring. It was a privilege to hear the life stories and advices from many powerful woman leaders. I was very excited to hear about the innovative ideas and unlimited potentials of IoT, a wonderful session from Cisco. It was also a great learning experience to know about the new technologies, achievements, and challenges in the area of AI, robotics, machine learning, etc. I enjoyed very much interviewing / talking with talented and passionate students, as well as people in the same field. It was also great to be part of the team demoing our products in the booth and hearing the interest and feedback from the crowd.

  3. Thanks alot for this article Pankaj

  4. First time at Grace Hopper and proud to represent Cisco. Was asked to share highlights and my thoughts with Global Business Services employees to be shared in December newsletter!

  5. It was a great experience to hear from technologists, visionaries and leaders on what to look up to , what to expect for future and how to take care of present for future. So many to look up to in every possible technical field. All of us should share with our friends, extended families about GraceHopper, Anitha Borg and systers community to make sure every little girl out there knows about this org and what it offers..

  6. Amazing conference!! Its great to see Cisco continuing to invest for the future of youth!

  7. Where is the link to Team Penelope comic book?

  8. Awesome conference to inspire and attract young talent and network with other professionals alike. The energy, enthusiasm and inquisitiveness of the attendees was simply infectious..great showcase by Team Cisco!!

  9. So proud of our showing at GHC this year! I met some great candidate, PhD and undergrad, and hope to bring them to work for Cisco. Congrats, team!

  10. Great Cisco presence at GHC. What an inspiring event!

  11. Yes, to my suprise this was one of the best women conference I have attended. Thank you Cisco!

  12. First time to GHC. Wow it was an amazing experience to be part of Tech Women around the world. Inspiring speech/keynote from Tech leaders. Thanks Cisco for giving the opportunity to attend.

  13. First time to GHC. Wow it was an amazing experience to be part of Tech Women around the world. Inspiring speech/keynote from Tech leaders. Thanks Cisco for giving the opportunity to attend.

  14. As someone who had been nervous though excited about attending this all-women’s event I came away deeply inspired and moved by the keynotes, sessions and events. I found that the keynotes, unlike some other women’s conferences provided actionable solutions to issues holding back women in leadership. It was such a treat to hear and see Sheryl Sandberg in person and from a front row seat. I loved seeing so many young women not only in positions of leadership but being the originators of next-generation concepts such as Cisco’s own Laxmi Mukund, whose presentation in the IoT lightning talks blew me away.

  15. Thank you Cisco for this opportunity! I met so many wonderful women, students and professionals. The Cisco booth was by far the most popular on the floor, great energy and excitement to be a part of the Cisco team! The speakers gave amazing advice, this is an experience I will cherish forever!

  16. It was my first time at GHC and it has been a truly inspiring experience with fast paced workshops, events and opportunity to collaborate with remarkable women! Cisco rocked with a great presence.#GladToBeHere.

  17. Extraordinary experience! It was my Fisrt Grace Hopper and I really loved! time to learn and build connections! Tks Cisco!!! <3

  18. The amazing fact is about the tremendous support from leaders at Cisco regardless of gender.

  19. Cisco should continue to invest in events such as these to leave their footprint as a Technology firm that is front and center committed to foster Women into STEM. Congrats Cisco, the Executive Leadership team and all the volunteers that committed to make this a successful event.

  20. Thank you Cisco for this wonderful opportunity.
    I was a first time attendee and I was amazed to see so many Women in computing!
    Cisco’s presence was remarkable and I felt proud being part of the team
    Here is a small video I made to share my experience

  21. loved the energy at the conference, verry nice !

  22. What an incredibly inspiring 3 days at #GHC2015. I had the opportunity to hear from women leaders in technology who are innovating and changing the world we live, work, and play. I walked away feeling SO empowered and #PROUD to be working at Cisco. Not only did we showcase Cisco’s technology and recruit top talent, but we also demonstrated what a fun, cool, HIP place to work at! Congratulations Liz and the Cisco GHC team for such an outstanding job!

  23. WOW!!!!! Looks like an incredible event and impressive Cisco presence! Can’t wait to hear what amazing talent we are able to hire. Always some of the best women engineers are at this conference. Congratulations everyone!

  24. Thanks Cisco for making us part of this great conference. I’m more empowered now. The best part I liked about GHC is learning new technology be it machine learning, robotics and not to be missed IOT – Cisco own vision to connect everything in internet through cloud, fog and edge computing. I should mention about the terrific KeyNotes and leadership sessions we had at GHC. It was great to meet so many talented people in the same field. Looking forward to work with talented students to make the future even better.

  25. I am so proud representing Cisco at GHC15. Undergrads are super excited to learn about Cisco opportunities. Savvy young engineers quote Cisco Sourcefire Snort as the best open source security software. Liz and Judy’s IOT session has lines out of the door. The energy was incredible. Kudos to Liz and the Cisco GHC planning team. Go Cisco!

  26. Congratulations team, we had the best booth there!

  27. GHC15 was a blast and Cisco’s booth definitely made an electrifying splash. Loved the idea of bringing T-shirt printing to the booth. Great sessions on variety of topics, inspirational talks from tech visionaries and the aspirational crowd made attending the event worthwhile.

  28. What a fantastic event to encourage the advancement of women in Technology!

  29. GHC15 was awesome !! I achieved a lot and enjoyed much.
    I felt lucky to be able to be part of this and to present Cisco.

    thank you for awesome time !
    looking forward for the next

  30. Absolutely rocking experience. A variety of sessions to attend/refresh technology, great opportunities to network, many offers to young women in technology for 1:1 mentoring, a simply-rocking Cisco Booth, meet and greet at the booth, to share our own wonderful experiences of working@Cisco…. the list goes on! Thanks Cisco for being a Diamond sponsor, and having such a fantastic presence at GHC!!

  31. Thank you Cisco for giving me this amazing opportunity! And Thank you to all those amazing people who put in so much effort to make Cisco’s presence a success..Proud to be part of Cisco!!

  32. I have been fortunate to attend GHC multiple times. The conference is always so awe inspiring. This year, though, I was completely floored and in awe of the Cisco booth!! The energy and presence of the Cisco team made me feel proud to be a part of Cisco!! Thank you Liz, Christine and all the CIsco volunteers for putting up such an amazing show.

  33. Proud to be at GHC this year, my first time.
    It was so rewarding to see the keen interest in CyberSecurity area – I was running the Student Opportunity Lab and the table was always full of students/professionals for the 3 hrs. Women can really rock in this field and I hope I motivated almost all of them.

  34. Thank you Cisco for being such an awesome sponsor!!

  35. What a fantastic recap. Congrats to Liz, Christine and the entire Cisco team.

  36. I know how much effort and planning it takes to put a successful event like above. Thanks to all the WISE leads and other volunteers to leave their mark by doing an outstanding job! Thanks to all the wonderful Cisco leaders for investing in women’s holistic development. Congratulations to all the women who were fortunate to attend such conference. I never attended GHC but hope to attend sometime in the future! I am proud to be part of Cisco family.

  37. Absolutely loved the energy at the conference. Cisco’s presence this time at the conference was phenomenal! The recruiting booth completely stood out and was one of a kind on the entire floor. Felt so proud representing Cisco WISE @ GHC!

  38. Cisco’s presence was fantastic at the conference! the experience is inspiring,energizing and we got the chance to hear,meet and talk with the top talented minds in the computing and technology industry. Grace Hopper Conference is an awesome technology conference and representing Cisco was the coolest things to do at the event! Thank you Cisco !

  39. Awesome Cisco representation at GHC! Go Cisco team!

  40. Thank you for sharing this great re-cap of GHC 2015 and Cisco’s powerful presence. Not being able to join this in person, this blog & the videos allowed a sneak peek into the energy & vibe of the event !

  41. It was truly an inspiring, action packed, empowering experience for me at Grace Hopper 2015! I was so glad to attend and help with Cisco’s fantastic energy and presence. Kudos to the sponsors and staff behind it all!

  42. It was great to represent Cisco’s support to GHC “behind the scenes” as co chair of the Security and Privacy track (only its second year at GHC!). Creating the space for women innovators in security, including our own Jennie Kam!

  43. As a first time attendee I was floored by how large this conference really is. The energy that filled our Cisco Booth for the 3 days was undeniably magnetic. I feel so proud to be a part of it all and to represent a company that is truly invested in advancing women in technical roles. I had the pleasure of working with so many new colleagues who are now friends and I can’t wait to collaborate with you all again!

  44. This was such an incredible event to be a part of – not only did I feel proud to represent Cisco, I felt proud to be part of such an inclusive event in which women (and men) could come together and expand their potential. I love being a part of connecting everyone to the future of Cisco!

  45. ‘Build the future. Make your mark.’ This is incredibly meaningful to me, as my daughters are both young women now and I have always nurtured them to aim high, to dream, and to follow their passions. Being able to share this blog with them, via Facebook, not only inspires them, but goes a long way in supporting all the early childhood nurturing. Thanks for sharing!

  46. So incredibly proud to be part of the Core team who pulled off an amazing experience both for Cisco attendees and other conference attendees. We worked together as One Cisco and rocked it. And showed why Cisco is the destination for the best talent. Thanks to the Core team and all the Cisco attendees

  47. Cisco, as a diamond sponsor to this conference, had a very strong and extremely positive presence. I agree with Monique Morrow in that it was humbling to see the great minds that gathered at the event and the many college students ready to put their mark and build the future.

    Many thanks to all the organizers!

  48. Cisco rocked at GHC ! Students were very interested in understanding Cisco culture and technology, and I was happy to be part of that experience !! Thank you, Cisco !

  49. I’m so proud to be associated with this conference and all the people who joined in to help make it a huge success! What a fun group of people we have working here at Cisco – making this the best place to work.

  50. Sounds like a lot of fun! I hope it went well!

  51. I was so very very humbled by the super people I met at Grace Hopper 2015.

    Yes Cisco and our Penelope team rocked it!

    Thank you to our great women and men who were focused on industry and global impact!

  52. This was the best conference I had ever attended! I felt proud to represent Cisco and was truly inspired by all the remarkable women that were there!