Tiara and other Cisco employees volunteering.Have you ever had that feeling, deep down inside, that something was off at work? It starts gradually with inconspicuous things like demotivation here and there, becoming easily frustrated over the simplest things, and feelings of misalignment with your colleagues. Then, you wake up one day and realize you’ve lost your work mojo!

Well, this is exactly where I was a year ago.

Before reaching this tipping point, I considered myself to be in a “winning season!” I mean, things were going great, and I was blessed with the opportunity to accomplish things I only dreamed of doing as a small brown girl from modest beginnings. I had a powerhouse for a sponsor; Shaina Tamburr. My leader, Jed Shasteen, was amazing and laser-focused on elevating my work experience. One might wonder, with the visibility and the support I was receiving from leadership, how in the world could I have ended up in such a predicament? The truth is, I wondered this myself, too. I was incredibly embarrassed by these feelings and struggled to express them. I couldn’t find the words to describe what I was experiencing without appearing ungrateful.

I found myself at a crossroads: Would I stay or go?

Terrified of the outcome, I had no idea what the best move would be for me. I just knew something had to change soon.

There was this huge pit in my stomach as I weighed a decision. It wasn’t an easy one to make. Ultimately, I concluded that my best strategy was to accept an external opportunity and try other experiences.

I dreaded sharing my decision with Shaina and Jed, fearing what would happen next. I cherished our bonds. However, this decision was more about me and less about partnerships with this leader and sponsor. But they both had invested so much in me. How would they respond to this news?

I should have known to expect nothing less than leadership excellence from this pair. The best leaders grow their people, even if it means the next steps are not with them. Although surprised by my choice to leave, neither tried to derail my career decision, ambition, goals, or values. They embraced me, wished me well on the next phase of my journey, and promised to never leave my side! They ensured a smooth transition on my way out and even sent me flowers as a gesture of gratitude for all my contributions. Then, they remained true to their words by staying in touch during my time away.

Tiara sitting on a stage with a few other women. This new leg of my career journey was a blessing in disguise. It afforded me a new experience but ultimately adjusted clarity on what I needed from my career. After experiencing multiple organizational changes, my previous Cisco role and responsibilities had radically changed, and gradually over time I lost sight of my career and personal goals. Things were fuzzy and unclear. My forward momentum stalled out, and this lack of clarity left me confused about what was next. So, I took this leap of faith, tried something, and realized it wasn’t for me. Although I learned many new things, the main takeaway from this new adventure was that it didn’t feel like home. Stepping back from Cisco helped me to see that it was exactly where I needed to be.

Now, how would I get back?

Once again, Shaina and Jed were right there to help me pick up the pieces as promised. I reached out, expressed my interest in returning, and they began speaking for me in rooms I could not be present. How did Cisco as an organization respond? It wasn’t considered taboo. I received no backlash, nor was I viewed as a disloyal flight risk. When the opportunity to interview came, the experience was top-tier, and I was well-received! Cisco saw it as a chance to partner with someone with prior business knowledge, re-entering with a fresh perspective and new outlook. It was also very heart-warming to see the response from previous colleagues who were happy about my return as a boomerang alumnus!

Tiara posing with a "Cisco" sign.

If like me, you are a recently-returning boomerang, consider these three tips for getting reacquainted:

  • Do the inner work of analyzing why you left in the first place. Knowing that information highlights the gaps leading up to your departure and empowers you to solve for it. The rejoining opportunity should address those insufficiencies and make you feel whole.
  • Reintroduce yourself by making a conscious effort to network and reconnect. Remember to pace yourself; it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
  • Be prepared with a constructed narrative that explains to others why you originally resigned and what was the driver behind your return.

In closing, it feels good to be back in my element, surrounded by such an intoxicating culture that clearly values individual progress as much as shared success. The life lesson here is that it’s okay to give yourself permission to explore. Theodor Seuss Geisel said, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” I found this to be so true! Working a new job provided me with a renewed understanding of my goals. After realigning my career priorities, I quickly realized that they were present at Cisco. Looking to the future, it’s exciting to think of all the ways I can use my credentials and skills in partnership with my new Cisco team and leader, Naser Samaenah, to further support Cisco’s mission of powering an inclusive, digital future for all!

Interested in becoming a boomerang or first-time Cisconian? Check out our careers!  

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Tiara Roberts

Software Compliance Engagement Manager

Cisco CX Programs - Software Compliance - US