In 1997, I joined Cisco as an IT Voice Services Project Manager. I never imagined I would be staying for 20 years. Two decades ago, I had no idea that working for an IT company would lead to the many roads I’ve travelled within my career. It’s true that Cisco changes and adapts itself continuously to stay at the forefront of innovation. But did you also know that they enable their employees to manage their own career and encourage us to explore other career opportunities we might be interested in within the company?

Often times, when you hear of someone who has been at the same company for many, many years – you think they’ve been doing the same ol’ thing the entire time.  At Cisco, that couldn’t be further from the truth in my case! In these past 20 years, I would also come to move around between organizations, obtaining an even broader knowledge of the company with each transition, and at the same I was enabled to bring value to Cisco.

In 2017, to “celebrate” those 20 years with Cisco, I moved for the third time to join the Services Business Development group. But here is where I have been so far:

The First Move: I still remember one of my first review meetings. My manager said, “Donald, I can give you the tools and guidelines to manage your career, but you have to do it.” It led me to think of where I would like to be three years later, and it was the first moment I started to look outside the IT organization for my next career change. I was motivated to make a move towards sales.

For 14 years, I was in different IT roles and got involved in customer meetings to share our Cisco on Cisco programs. It was here that I discovered how much I enjoyed the human interaction. So, I started to work on creating the proper network, analysed my skill gaps, and prepared for my next challenge.

In 2010, I joined the Spanish Sales team as Collaboration Product Sales Specialist. I felt alive and energized by the work here! It felt like I had joined a new company, with new processes, goals and challenges. I was lucky to also have a great mentor who offered to guide me through this new world of sales, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had here at Cisco.

There were moments of doubt, sure. Sometimes, I’d wonder why I had made the shift to this new path, when I was comfortable with IT all this time. But, it was this change that allowed me to grow again both professionally and personally.

The Second Move: After 6 years in this role, I didn’t want to wait the same amount of time to take my next step. So I began the same process once more of growing my network, analysing my skills, and preparing for the next step. Even being in my fifties, it did not scare me off.

I was ready for the challenge and new opportunities.

Are you thinking of making a career move within Cisco as well? Here’s what I would recommend:

Challenge Yourself! There is no exact time of when to make a change, sometimes you’ll be ready for it – and other times you won’t be as prepared, but that also leads to a lot of new experiences and learning! You will know when the timing feels “right”. Don’t be afraid to take the leap!

Talk to your manager or get a coach if you feel you need some guidance. This can be a peer, a friend, a family member, or even a professional coach. Find someone to talk to about this decision and OWN IT.

Did you know that Cisco also offers what we call Stretch Assignments? This enables employees to learn new skills and work for other teams for a few hours each week to develop their careers further. This is a great way to learn as much as you can about other teams and what they do here – take advantage of that benefit!

You can only grow yourself if you put yourself in front of a new challenge. Yes, it is new. And, yes, it is sometimes scary. But if you don’t swing for the fences – how will you ever know how much more you can add to your career?

20 years, and three careers all at Cisco – take it from me, there is always room to grow here!

Interested in joining a company that encourages you to grow? We’re hiring!



Donald De Witte

Business Development Manager

CX Collaboration Services - EMEAR