If there’s one thing that Raj Bhat, SDA for Premier Accounts in CX (Customer Experience) knows how to do, it’s how to create a bucket list, one that has taken him to Peru, Tanzania and beyond.

But he didn’t always have one. His list came out of the COVID-19 pandemic when he started walking daily. His walks became hikes and, in the process, Raj says he, “got to know people from all walks of life, their journeys and their adventures, and their stories and life experiences made me want to go to certain places in the world.”

This was the beginning of his bucket list.

When someone in Denver recommended Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter, he decided to go even though he never skied or hiked in that terrain.

When he met a woman from Peru who was born and raised in a small village along the Inca Trail, he decided to experience the remoteness of the Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu.

Then while on the trail, he met someone from Tanzania.

“Before we said goodbyes on the trail, he surprised me by singing one of these old Bollywood songs,” said Raj. “He apparently watched the movie a dozen times on a black-and-white television back in Africa!” This led to Raj’s decision to add Mount Kilimanjaro to his bucket list.

Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania, is a dormant volcano that is also known as Africa’s highest mountain. At 19,340 feet above sea level, it is the highest free-standing mountain above sea level in the world.

Witnessing how dedicated, hardworking, and positive all the sherpas (porters) were despite having to carry enough supplies for the hikers’ seven days on the trail, Raj says, “ They’re definitely not in it just for the money. They respect Mother Nature and worship the mountains. They are very passionate, incredible young human beings dedicated to ensuring every hiker makes it to their goalpost.”

Mount Kilimanjaro has six or seven tracks or routes, each with a different success rate. Raj’s track, the Machame route, has an 80-85 percent success rate, and altitude sickness is the main contributor to summit failures. One person had to abort his attempt to summit in his group of five hikers and 22 sherpas.

There are two more items on his bucket list: Mount Everest Base Camp and Mount Rainier in Washington State. “Once you set out to do something, you need to do it,” says Raj.

Before his bucket list journey and before the COVID-19 pandemic, Raj’s regimen was to spend 30 to 40 minutes each morning doing breathing exercises and yoga.

“I am fortunate to have an opportunity to work for Cisco, an employer that promotes work-life balance,” says Raj. “Some hikes required me to take extended leave of absence which my manager, Anthony Davis, totally supported.”

He credits his ability to better handle conflict, different viewpoints, and “aggressive schedules” to the lessons he learned on the trail from remote parts of the world.


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Dena Konkel

Strategic Communications Lead

CX Americas