If I could go back 5 years in time, as I started my journey at Cisco and give myself a piece of advice, it would be this: “You are about to walk on a bridge of opportunities. All you have to do is look around and grab them, and Cisco will do the rest.”
I had already overcome so much to get to this point, like clinical depression while I was growing up. I was a shy and diffident person – an undeniable introvert – who had an interesting life with lots of ups and downs on my road to becoming a consulting engineer. So, it is quite a proud journey I’ve been on to be able to say that, today, when I’m not working on providing solutions for our client’s network challenges, I am often mentoring and helping others.
My passion, and this may surprise you coming from an introvert, is in helping others improve their oratory and leadership skills. Today, I am a public speaker, and even Area Director at Toastmasters!
And Cisco has been that bridge of opportunities for me.
When I joined Cisco, this company showed me that I could embrace who I was, even though I am surrounded by extroverts. We are all unique, and that is our strength. I found that my qualities of listening with sensitivity and inclusion to be my greatest asset while working as a consulting engineer. I had never cherished these qualities, or in being an introvert, so much as I did at Cisco.
There are many benefits at Cisco, like working with people around the globe (working with team members on three continents helped me to evolve as a person) and access to a variety of Employee Resource Organizations (ERO) from literary clubs to public speaking clubs and Women in Tech to Pride.
One club that I found useful was the Toastmasters Club at Cisco, where I could network with people across the organization and improve my communication and leadership experiences. Today, because of these opportunities I have joined the ranks of an Area Director at Toastmasters.
This led to me being inspired to give back. When you are at Cisco, you are always surrounded with the feel-good vibe to give back – so, I decided to teach what I learnt from my experiences on public speaking. I approached my management with a proposal to run a public speaking program that could benefit others on my team. They were more than happy to make it happen, and the enthusiastic participation from my team made the program a success!
I didn’t stop there though. I also joined Cisco’s Creative Storytellers team for our APJC Customer Experience (CX) centers. This was a team of content curators, event anchors, social media enthusiasts and beyond. After an audition, I even had the opportunity to be the event anchor for the CX center, Senior Vice President’s town-hall meeting!
I was fortunate to get a chance to network with our Senior Vice President – not just on stage but backstage too – and it was one of the most enlightening and entertaining conversations I have had with a leader. He told me that he was impressed by my witty questions and said that I had great potential and, perhaps most importantly, he asked me to keep trying new things.
Whether it be internal, external, or international experiences – Cisco encourages their employees to continually grow. And, so, after a highly competitive process, I was also selected as a delegate to attend the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) conference. This is an exchange forum for young leaders to discuss and learn about the most important economic, political, and social issues facing the Asia-Pacific region – a conglomerate of 500 delegates from more than 90 countries
However, I nearly wasn’t able to go as I had no way to fund my travel! That’s when I made a case to my management, emphasizing the learnings, achievements and ideas I would put forth in this international conference. Alas, Cisco made it happen.
Each delegate I met in the conference had a story to tell, and I returned with renewed motivation to make a change in the lives of the people around me.
All this to say, when you begin your career at Cisco – you have no idea how limitless the possibilities are. I never would have thought that I – a shy, introverted consulting engineer – could grow in such profound, immeasurable ways and I am excited to see how Cisco continues to be a bridge of opportunities for me.
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