Yes, I brought a baby to Cisco Live Melbourne. And no, to answer the #1 question I received throughout the 5 days I spent in Melbourne for the Digital Summits (a side event to Cisco Live) it wasn’t just some random baby I found in the convention center.

A year ago, I reluctantly missed out on the chance to go to Cisco Live in Melbourne. It wasn’t by choice: I was pregnant and could not be cleared to fly by my doctors. But I knew that I would make up for it by heading to Australia for the next edition – with baby in tow!

And that’s exactly what I did!

My daughter is now an 8-month blue-eyed chubby little monster that is an expert in shoving plates and silverware off tables. It turns out she is also priceless when it comes to business travel.

Seeing her at the end of a long work day (and during event breaks) was the perfect way to get rid of stress. I desperately wanted to spend a few hours out and about with her, taking walks around sunny Melbourne and having a family meal. Without my daughter I would certainly be shut up in my hotel room working – she reminded me of the need to get out and explore!

With her traveling with me, I also felt zero mommy-guilt for traveling for work. In the back of your head, you always worry about how the kids are doing at home a mere 7-hour flight away – and that can take its toll. Taking her along for the wild ride that is Cisco Live Melbourne meant that I could make sure she was safe, happy and well-fed at all times.

Another perk to having her around was that no introductions were necessary. Everyone melts when they see a smiling, happy baby. In my role as Editor in Chief for the region, I needed to talk to as many people as possible, as well as coordinate video interviews. Having her around kickstarted some amazing conversations with colleagues, Cisco customers, and partners that would definitely not have happened without her.

But perhaps most importantly, being able to bring along my baby crystalizes the value of the flexible working conditions that Cisco offers. Plenty of companies offer flex hours – but few live it like Cisco does.

Nobody asked me why on earth I was dragging her along with me (she was still nursing three times a night!) or told me she would distract me from the work at hand or questioned my dedication to the event. Instead, they admired my daughter and then got back to business.

This made me feel valued as a whole person – both as an employee and as a mom.

My team in Communications, as well as the Asia Pacific, Japan and China Digital & Enterprise team, made my return to work after her arrival smooth and amazing. Having a child wasn’t an inconvenience to them or didn’t make me less of an asset to the team – instead, as many other Cisco parents have expressed on this very blog – everyone at Cisco valued and supported the time I needed to dedicate to her and myself.

Now, they support my decision to have her at events with me, when possible, and what we decide is best for our family.

Interested in traveling with your child? Here’s a few tips I have!

  1. Ask for help. There’s a lot to consider when traveling with an infant from deciding what time of day to fly and where to stay to asking for a baby cot in the room – all I had to do was ask, however, and people were happy to help.
  2. I brought our nanny along with me. (please see: Ask for help) 😉 Even with all the flexible hours in the world it would not be possible to look after a baby and at the same time do the immense amount of work and heavy lifting for an event like Cisco Live takes. Having Jen with us made that transition easier and helped to ensure that my daughter was well taken care of when I had to focus on work.
  3. For Cisco Live Melbourne specifically: bring comfortable shoes! The Melbourne Convention Center has two Parenting / feeding rooms. Unfortunately, neither of them locks, and they are also quite far away – a solid 15-minute walk. Comfy shoes are a must regardless of whether you have a baby in tow or not, but they make the long days easier with or without baby.

As you’ve likely guessed, yes – I’m inclined to bring my daughter with me again when I next travel for Cisco. The experience made our lives a bit easier, and it showcased more deeply to me how Cisco lives its principles every single day. I am not just an employee here, but a human – with a life outside of working hours – and a life that Cisco knows works best with flexibility.

In life, it truly takes a village to raise a child –  and that is no different whether it is your personal or professional life. It’s something I’m truly proud that Cisco understands and supports.


Want to work for a flexible company? We’re hiring. Apply now.


Elke Boogert

Editor in Chief, APJC Newsroom

APJC Marketing & Communications