When I recently accepted a new role at Cisco as a Software Consulting Engineer for Service Provider in our Lisbon, Portugal Customer Experience (CX) Center – I knew my life was about to change. The deal was done, and the transition dates were agreed upon. I was about to become an expat, or a person living outside their native country. Alfonso holds out a flag in front of him.

This change didn’t just mean a new role, in a new area of interest, but it would also mean moving to an entirely new country. I would be relocating from Mexico City to the sunny city of Lisbon. I was about to trade tequila for wine, my “bolillo” bread for “pastéis” pastries, and the “Hola” greeting for “Olá”.

My career would also be switching gears. As a former Collaboration Consulting Engineer, I was going to refocus my career at Cisco to cater to my deepest interests in DevNet and networks automation & orchestration.

Big life changes like these always put you to the test, and this change for me was no different as my brain conjured up questions like, “Will my transition process go as planned?”, “Will I adapt with ease to the city, and to being there by myself?” and “How well will I embrace these new technologies?”.

Fortunately, amid all this uncertainty, Cisco always had my back.

From the relocation whereabouts (immigration, legal, etc.) to my team’s support in Lisbon, I couldn’t have been luckier. That luck was extended when – during the same week that I arrived in Portugal – my team had organized a volunteer activity at a local farm and we were able to meet, safely, in person. This was in fact the first time many of us met in person, and it was a true treat in these times.

A Cisco water bottle in Mexico City

My team is composed of talented engineers and extraordinary people from many different places, and with a wide variety of cultures and languages – Portugal, Spain, Italy, Morocco, and of course, Mexico – all in one place, on one team! CX Lisbon also has a vibrant community of expats from more than 40 different nationalities. This is the power of Cisco and our technology and our mission to power an inclusive future for all.

If I have a question about living in Lisbon, there’s always a fellow Cisconian prepared with the best tips in hand. (Kudos to my Mexican friends who arrived before me and helped me with vital information throughout the process.) And my mentor, colleagues and manager have also been helping me adapt, while embracing the new technologies through hands-on training and shadowing, as well as ramping up in projects with customers. It’s a great feeling to know you are so supported.

In no time at all, I was able to directly collaborate with the Conexión Latinx Inclusive Community here in Portugal and throughout the EMEAR region. My first contribution was, of course, A Day of the Dead event! I was invited to organize and co-host a session showcasing this noble tradition and inviting others to engage. What a wonderful opportunity to showcase my Mexican culture in Europe!

At the end of the day, making these big life changes is never easy. The uncertainty and uneasiness are always hard to confront. However, Cisco and the team here in Lisbon made the transition as smooth as possible. I’m confident that this will be an amazing journey, and we are just getting started!


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Poncho Sandoval

Software Consulting Engineer

SWAT (Software and Automation) CX Lisbon