Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for reflection. This year, I spent time thinking about what it truly means to be a Hispanic leader at Cisco. My journey has led me to the privilege of leading the US Commercial team in CX Americas, and along the way, I’ve learned valuable lessons that have shaped my perspective on leadership.

The two I cherish most, are:

Embrace the Power of Dreams

Dreaming is where it all begins. It sets the course for our goals, which in turn, lead to reality.

Success Beyond Wealth

Success isn’t measured by how much money you make. It’s a culmination of consistency and discipline. It’s about achieving your goals with determination and resilience.

A Tale of Two Generations

I always like to go back to the beginning. I think history is interesting, and how it really does shape the person you are today.

My heritage is deeply rooted in the experiences of my family. My grandfather was a taxi driver in a small city in Nicaragua. He was a very smart businessman, even though his education did not extend beyond the fourth grade. He started his own business buying cars, one here and one there, until he traveled to New York City to purchase a few more cars, and before long, had an entire fleet of taxis. His mission was to provide opportunities for his children.

My father, the youngest of six, was very motivated and dedicated to his education. He was the top student in his high school and earned a scholarship to study medicine. Eventually, he became one of Nicaragua’s top three psychiatrists. These opportunities paved the way for an improved life and stability for our family.

The Shaping Power of Adversity

However, our journey took an unforeseen turn during Nicaragua’s revolution in 1978. Our country was thrust into a state of war. I still remember the scenes of violence and chaos—the tanks on our neighborhood streets and bullets piercing our doors. It was a tough lesson in survival. I was only 10 years old and learning about the value of life at such a young age.

We stayed in Nicaragua through a change in government, hoping for a better future. Those years challenged us with rationed food – beans, rice, and occasional chicken. The turning point was when the government planned to recruit children for the Iran-Contra Affair. My father did not want that life for me and made the courageous decision to leave Nicaragua for the United States, leaving my brother and mother behind.

A Journey Fueled by Determination

Our family had a single mission: for my father to obtain his medical license in the United States. We did everything we could, starting with my mother, who took her first job everin Nicaragua, working night shifts in a factory to support our efforts. Through her actions, my mother set an example of leadership, all while maintaining her kindness and love for our family. It was a challenging journey, but it made us resilient.

A decade of dedication and perseverance led to my father finally earning his medical license in the United States at the age of 78. His passion for his work continues to this day.As a family, we often look back on these days as happy days, not sad days. These were days of family, and days of effort. We obviously had days when we cried, but days when we laughed too.

As a father, I hope my own children appreciate the hard work, discipline, and consistency my brother, sister, and I demonstrated throughout these trying times. I am blessed that my inspiration and role models are my family and our history, and that in addition to my parents, my brother, sister, wife, and children are the engines in my life. They constantly help me to be my best and drive me forward to achieve my goals.

Leadership Shaped by Heritage

As a Hispanic leader, I incorporate these experiences in my day-to-day interactions with colleagues. The determination and support I see in my family are guiding principles. Challenges, whether personal or professional, are met with the knowledge that if we overcome those complex situations, we could overcome anything—we just need to have the will to do so.

My siblings and I took full advantage of the opportunities our parents provided, and we work hard every day to make them proud. We lead by example, building our families to understand the sacrifices made on our behalf. We aim for success to show our parents the results of their efforts.

To all aspiring leaders, Hispanic or otherwise, I offer these insights:

  • Know your dreams and turn them into goals.
  • Understand your strengths and follow your passion, but ensure it aligns with your natural talents. (I wanted to be a singer, but I can’t carry a tune!)
  • Stay humble; titles are just titles.
  • Prioritize being a person first and a leader second.
  • Embrace the lessons learned from your parents’ sacrifices and seize opportunities.
  • Embracing a Culture of Family

In my role as a leader, I aim to instill these values in my teams. The Hispanic culture is deeply rooted in family, and when we treat our colleagues as family, we foster a more productive and supportive environment. I witness my teams going the extra mile, not out of obligation but because they genuinely care about each other’s success.

My vision for US Commercial is to cultivate a culture where we genuinely care for one another. An “I have your back” culture has been instrumental in our success. This mindset extends across the organization, and I’m fortunate to have sales leadership that shares this perspective.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to share the richness of my culture – from its traditions to its vibrant food. It’s also a responsibility to give back to the country that welcomed me. As an immigrant, I am grateful and mindful of my role in adding value through my contributions to this beautiful country.


Danilo Pozo

Vice President of Customer Experience

US Commercial Sales