If my niece were to ask me for career advice, I would tell her that Happiness is within. Don’t look for happiness from outside influences. Learn from the challenges you face, and make full use of the opportunities you’re given.

One of the opportunities I was recently presented  was to participate in the Mrs. South Asia India 2017 competition – and I won the title of Mrs. South Asia!

I couldn’t have participated, much less won, without help from my Cisco family. They helped in so many ways, but here are three that meant the most to me during the process.

1. My manager. Cisco puts a priority on work-life balance, and my manager allowed me flexibility during the competition. Being a program manager for thingQbator (which is an internal incubator for innovative ideas for our engineering community) and busy working mom is hard enough, but to add the demands of needing to prepare my presentation, focus on fitness, revive my dancing skills, sharpen my knowledge and my views about current affairs for Q&A — just added a new level to my balancing act. Without my department support it wouldn’t have been possible!

2. My colleagues. Many people were a part of my success just from their encouragement and support – their enthusiasm was priceless! Part of the competition was that I needed to create a video. The global Cisco community (but especially here in India, Singapore and the United States) made my video the most-viewed among all of the participants! They didn’t just encourage me in person, they shared my story, they took the action to watch and participate and even loaned me clothes and shoes for the competition!3. Partnering with other Cisco teams. The Cisco TV team not only supported me as a group of individuals, but as a Cisco team as well. They helped lend their expertise in putting together video reels to help me build my video platform, and on very short notice!

I think that these three things are a really great example of the words on Cisco’s new Careers site. “Be You, With Us. #WeAreCisco.”

Be you: You see, I got to be who I am, follow my passions, and through the competition, create awareness about a cause close to my heart: “Green the Red” – which is a movement that focuses on sustainable and affordable solutions for women’s hygiene – a serious health issue affecting our less privileged sisters.

With us: Everyone at Cisco has unique talents and passions, and we really come together to support each other. Not only on a personal level, but in innovation and team challenges as well.

#WeAreCisco: It’s who we are. It’s at our core. It’s what it’s really like to be a “tribe” of Cisco employees.

I am very fortunate and thankful for being part of the Cisco family and culture.

Want to join a company that encourages you to pursue your passions? We’re hiring!




Vijaya Shekar

Program Manager

thingQbator, IoT Market Development