Many people call the company they work for “great” – it’s something that they feel they are supposed to do, and so they do it.

For me, it’s different.  I feel I can be my true self here at Cisco – and because of that I don’t feel I have to say anything. I say it because I want to say it, and that’s how I know Cisco is a great place to work.

I joined Cisco right out of college, 11 years ago, and I am now Cisco’s World-Wide Sales Director for Software Defined Access & Assurance. I am also African American and Mexican American with a beautiful wife of 12 years and two young boys.

To me, there are three elements of the workplace that are critical to it being “great.”


From student body president to basketball captain, if I could help when I was growing up to make an impact on the larger community, I was in.

It was no different when I got to Cisco.

I started as a Territory Market Manager, a new role to Cisco, not the account manager role I thought I wanted in order to be an organizational leader. I loved the role and a year later, I was asked to be an account manager in a crucial territory.

Advice: Trust your gut and things tend to work out. Your career path is one that is constantly in motion. Know where you want to go, but know that it may take many different paths to get there.


There are many powerful stories I could share with you here, but I want to start with the moment that solidified to me that I was more than just an employee here at Cisco – I was family.

Five years ago, I lost my sister to health complications.  At the time, I was a GEO account manager with a big sales number to hit. I was concerned about the time away from work, but my leadership was not. It’s times like these when you see the true colors of your company (and colleagues.)

My family was supported with thoughts, prayers and gifts of care – never once was I rushed back to work. This meant the world to me and I credit this act as a reason I remain with the organization today.

I also treat my team as a family.

As a leader or future leader, this is important. You are sometimes required to make a business decision that will affect your Cisco family. But as a family, we must face it head on, treat them the way you’d want to be treated, and help them the right way.

Sometimes, it’s about taking that “parent” role and encouraging your amazing team into new roles to help them get ready to “go and grow” – even when you’ll be just like those “empty nesters.”

Advice: As a leader, be supportive of your team, and you’ll have a strong business partner, and friend, for life.


Culture matters. And Cisco’s culture is why I can say #LoveWhereYouWork.

That culture starts with you as an individual, and if you’re a leader of a team, even more so. There is a HUGE difference in a leader and a manager.  The one that you choose to be will help develop the culture you will have.

Advice: A culture is not meant to be fun OR accountable, it is meant to be both. 

As you read this, you notice that I did not specifically talk about my race or my age in those three elements and pieces of advice. I did that on purpose.

Yes, it has shaped me.

But this message is to you, a future leader at Cisco – or wherever your career takes you.  In order to grow and elevate yourself and others at any organization, you must create environments that people thrive in regardless of race, age, gender or other characteristics; for me, that revolves around IMPACT, FAMILY & CULTURE!

Want to work at Cisco too? We’re hiring! Apply now!



Jason Pernell

WW Sales Director, Software Defined Access

Enterprise Networking Sales