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.


Pankaj Patel

Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer