This October, I hit a big milestone: 25 years with Cisco.
I do not know how time went by this fast, but it has me reflecting on what a quarter of a century means, both personally and professionally.
When I joined Cisco in 1997, I was newly married to my wife, Valerie. We were expecting our first child and had just purchased our first home. We were young, excited, and petrified all at the same time; it was a pivotal moment in life. Changing jobs and coming to Cisco was a big decision.
I had spent the prior seven years with a telecommunications company. During that time, I learned how to build a value proposition and what it means to be customer focused. While I was grateful for how the company helped me develop as a sales professional, I wanted to be at the heart of the emerging IP wave.
At Cisco, I started as an account manager in Service Provider for internet and cable. One of my favorite memories from those early days is a presentation by a well-respected and highly intelligent Cisco Fellow. The audience was filled with chief technical officers from the cable industry. The door opens and this Cisco Fellow in a Grateful Dead t-shirt and jeans walks through a sea of executives wearing suits and ties. He takes off his shoes and starts to present. It was a shock, but once he began to speak, he owned that room. He set the vision and foundation for building the high-speed data business for the next several years. This is just one of the many visionaries I have had the honor to work with during my time with the company. At Cisco, culture is a specific way of life. Each person brings their unrivaled talents and individuality to work. This moment with the barefooted Deadhead was the first of many examples of this, which remained a constant for me, ever since. Because of this approach, Cisco attracts some of the best and smartest humans in the world.
Over the years, my roles changed. I progressed from Account Manager to Regional Sales Manager, Operations Director, Senior Client Director, and Vice President, and, in 2021, I assumed my current role as Senior Vice President and lead for Americas Service Provider. I went from having sponsors to becoming a sponsor. My wife and I went from expecting our first child to becoming empty nesters.
The way we worked changed, too. In 1997, we had pagers and beige box computers. We also had to reserve time to use one of the computers in a shared room. Our first experience working from home was with those mammoth computers dialed up through a landline. I can still remember how life-changing it was when we got personal computers and cell phones. And even though Cisco has always been a technology-driven company that operates in hybrid work, I could not have imagined a transition as we have seen where sales operate in a largely remote world.
The evolution of technology has been staggering. This includes the home connectivity transition from dial-up at 2400 baud speeds to high-speed data, from single megs to now one gig and beyond. It also includes the progression in microprocessors, accelerating the power 10, 100, to 1000s times of predecessors delivering unheralded speeds and devices in new form factors. Finally, virtualization–from data center to cloud–becoming ubiquitous where networking, computing, and applications can be delivered as a service.
It is even more remarkable to see where we are going. Application technology solutions moving from point to universal and unlimited. The digital transformation and revolutions of hyper-scale to edge computing, massive infrastructure buildouts enabled through networking and business impact conversations around transformative new models such as the metaverse.
In reflecting on “why Cisco,” I would boil it down to this: I am fulfilled. It is the technology and the people. It is the company’s high integrity and customer focus; it has always done the right thing for its customers, at times at even great expense to the company. I have always admired that Cisco is willing to disrupt itself and meet the market where it is, not where it hopes or wants it to be. Because of this, Cisco has been and continues to be at the forefront of technology innovation and digital transformation. More than that, the company is focused on supporting the whole person, which allowed me to be present with my family. I am proud of what the company stands for and what it represents; it has allowed me to live my values and be the example I want to be for my children.
I could not be prouder of where I have been, and more excited about where I am today.
My wife and I just celebrated 28 years together and my two children are now fully grown and out in the world on their own. In fact, my daughter recently joined the company as a software engineer.
I am starting my second year at the helm of Americas Service Provider. I am thrilled to work with a group of passionate and smart people who were recently named Large Theater of the Year at Cisco for the second year in a row.
The opportunity ahead in the Service Provider space has never been more exciting. The latest pandemic reminded us of Service Providers’ critical role in connecting us all. The massive investments continue at a staggering scale and pace, including 5G, Routed Optical Networking, 400/800G, Hyper-Scale enabling things like artificial intelligence and machine learning, virtual reality, and things I can’t yet even imagine. But I will tell you who does: one of our Cisco engineers. Grateful Dead t-shirt optional.