As we welcome a new year at Cisco, many of us are well on our way to making resolutions and dedicating ourselves to a fresh start and a clean slate. We’re hopeful that this year will be our year.

However, for the 200,000 veterans who will hang up their uniform for the last time in 2019, that may be harder than just making a resolution. I know personally how difficult that transition is – I also personally know that Cisco values our sacrifice and commitment, and understands the potential we represent. Finding that first gig in civilian clothes can be something of a unicorn, and has the potential for defining the next 25 years of our working lives – I’m glad that Cisco was that unicorn for me.

Coming from a culture of service, vets may not immediately recognize that there is a wide variance in how corporate cultures impact the world around them and the employees within these companies. This can make all the difference in finding a job vs. finding a career.

As a veteran with 20 years in the Air Force and 18 years in Information Technology, I feel I’m in a unique position to share lessons learned in my transition to make yours easier. I’m inspired by Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why”, so allow me to share with you my “why Cisco” reasons.

After 18 years of retirement, Brian recently re-enlisted in the USAF Reserves and is the First Sergeant at the 306th Combat Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, in Tucson AZ.

It’s easy to be inspired at Cisco.

Sure, Cisco might be a large, corporate tech company – but what many don’t realize is that Cisco’s bold leadership to collaboratively solve big, global problems stands tall in today’s gridlocked environment.

There is a unique openness in Cisco’s leadership that communicates often where we’re headed, why we’re taking that particular route, and how we’ll get there together. Not only is this a leadership culture that’s unique, but it’s uniquely suited to veterans.

From using the latest technology to save the oldest animals on the planet through Connected Conservation to working on building some of the smartest cities on the planet – we’re doing big things. But we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk too.

One of my favorite examples of our executive leadership’s dedication in solving issues not only across the globe, but also right here in our local neighborhoods is this: Cisco pledged $50M over five years to end homelessness in Silicon Valley. It’s a commitment I’m certain veterans will benefit from as well.

I’ve had the opportunity to work for several 20-year plus managers, and it’s been a great way to observe Cisco’s culture in action. In meetings, in collaborative environments, in decision making, and in long-range planning – it’s been inspiring to see that there’s one road at Cisco, and it’s the high one.

Bringing the ethos to Cisco.

Safety: Cisco has your back.

Like a family that has its priorities in order, there’s a feeling of calm and safety at Cisco. That feeling comes from a laser-guided focus on diversity, openness, and inclusion that stretches across the globe.

The nexus of leadership across every human, technology, and business aspect at Cisco forms an incredibly strong foundation that you can trust. Trust is especially important when you work at a company that moves this quickly. It’s easy to be agile when the ground underneath you is solid and supportive. And Cisco trusts its employees exclusively to do their jobs, and excel within their skills and talents.

At Cisco, the business has your back. Every veteran knows what that means when you’re moving forward into the unknown.

Fulfillment: The #WeAreCisco tribe.

Every business has a culture they’ll sell to veterans. Cisco has a culture it boldly represents every day – even when nobody is looking.

Part of my stoke comes from the stuff we’re working on, and how we’re working on it. Cisco is a $50B company training for its digital future.

Every day it shows up for PT early. It trains hard. It trains smart. And a big part of the overall fulfillment at Cisco comes from the people who stand next to you.

Here’s where many veterans feel a sense of loss in transition. The things we did, and the situations we lived together created a bond most often described as a Brotherhood. The great news is that I’ve found this at Cisco too! The innovative work, at the speed we’re moving, with smart compassionate people in a well-led company forms a Brotherhood of its own – and the great thing is that it’s chock full of sisters too.

There is a palpable and defined belonging to #WeAreCisco, and you often feel that sense of instant connection and excitement as you meet new people at Cisco.

Imagine Cisco.

You protected the free world as a veteran. It’s imperative that you find something with the same weight or you’ll feel a void. That void will create doubt. That doubt will impact your performance. I challenge you to find an organization that’s impacting the world in a big way and then be a part of it.

If there’s a single answer to why Cisco for veterans, in my experience, it’s this: it’s a great place to leverage everything you are today and get issued everything you need to become who you will become four horizons out.

You will learn, you will be challenged, and you will continue to grow. Growth keeps your edge. It’s that growth that keeps you sharing with your family at dinner what you did at work that day.

Your personal growth is the key to your transitional success.

Know that what you bring to the world is valued here at Cisco. Your competencies, your experiences, your ability to lead and facilitate teams in a fast moving collaborative environment will all open the door. Your team at Cisco will get you the rest of the way.

As we peer into 2019 for the first time together, I wanted to say a very special thank you to my friends and colleagues at Cisco for making my work environment one that is safe, inspiring, and towering full of Northern CA Mavericks sized big wave stoke every single day.

Brian’s signed Jeff Clark Mavericks print – for stoke… This is Cisco!

To every veteran standing at the precipice of your own transition and on the edge of this brand New Year – you’ve got what you need. Work hard and find your way into a company culture that you’ll be proud to work within.

Trust me on this one, there is no better company to work for than the one that encourages you to be you, with us.

Want to join the ranks at Cisco? We’re hiring. Apply now.


Brian Stephens

Program Manager, System Engineering

US Commercial HQ and Co-Founder Verus Consulting