One minute and fifteen seconds and it’ll all be over. Two counts to breathe. Thousands of people watching. No second chances.

The Cisco Singers then take the field to sing the U.S. National Anthem at a Major League Baseball game. It’s a thrill, and it’s a moment I never thought I’d experience at, of all places, work!

I’ve been singing with the Cisco Singers for almost four years and (this might surprise you!) I find myself crossing over the skills I’ve learned as a singer to help be successful in my career at Cisco as an IT Analyst!

There are three major skills that keep me in harmony with work AND with my passions.

1. There’s sweet music in the details! When you sing a piece of music, there are a lot of details about how the song should be sung: volume, pitch, tone, changes in rhythm, and pronunciation are just a few. If you don’t memorize the musical details, the performance won’t be so great.

Just as the details are important in music, it is the same at work for a presentation, product demo, service review, or even general conversation. Knowing the details of your work is key to communicating with others about what you do and how it impacts them. You have to know the details of your work in order to be ready to dive into the details to clarify.

Plus, confidence comes from being well-informed, at work and in a song. At Cisco, that gets you recognized as well!

However, it’s also key (pun intended) that everyone knows their parts, so skill two is . . . .

2. Working Together! To sound good as a small chorus, we all must be singing the right notes, the right way, at the right time; together. In order for the audience to hear a harmonious chord, everyone must be singing one of the notes in the chord as intended.

If any part is too quiet, the full chord won’t be heard. But you also can’t drown each other out either. Everyone must sing their part properly for the harmony to come through!

The same is true on any team at Cisco; everyone has their own work, but we must work together to get big stuff done.

Being a part of IT, I cannot single handedly, ‘bring the future of IT into the now’. What I can do is build an Anaplan dashboard for a Cisco Sales Agent to view their accounts. To do my work I need help from a Business Analyst to document the Sales Agent’s requirements, a Data Engineer to import and configure the data, a QA Tester to prove it is all working correctly, and a Scrum master to keep the entire team on task and on time.

By working together our team is delivering data insights with speed and security which contribute to the bigger picture. If we are all contributing to the overarching strategies, we can keep Cisco harmonious.

But where would we all be without direction? Thus, my last piece of advice is . . .

3. Follow the Leader! For a chorus, the director is key. They keep the rhythm and keep us together on parts of the song that are up for interpretation. The sheet music can be marked to have notes sung an indefinite amount of time or show that particular sections need to be ‘faster’. The director decides and communicates when enough is enough on the indefinite notes and how fast ‘faster’ really is.

At Cisco, “We securely connect everything to make anything possible.” It’s a big, bold statement that can be hard to interpret. That’s why it is key to have strong leaders who can break down the strategy so it is deliverable and measurable.

Our ELT breaks it down into goals for each function. My VP sums it up into goals for our group, Customer Engagement. Then my manager builds our team’s portfolio of work to meet these goals. In the end I can easily align my work to these goals and with their direction, I know my work is helping to drive Cisco’s ultimate strategy.

If we all know our part, work together, and look to our leaders for direction, our work will ring out in perfect harmony. #WeAreCisco!

Does Cisco sound like the right note for you? We’re hiring!



Lisa Sullivan

IT Analyst

CS&S Sales Coverage, Crediting, & Compensation