Last month, the Connected Black Professionals Inclusive Community shone the spotlight on talented members at events highlighting Black creativity in celebration of African Americans in the Arts — this year’s Black History Month theme.

Hear what it means for these Cisconians who performed at CBP events to bring their passions to work and show up as their authentic selves every day.

Jamari Cortez, Customer Project Manager

I officially began my DJ career a few months before getting my job as a project manager at Cisco back in 2019. Initially, I would keep the two worlds separate, but over time, I realized that being a DJ and being a project manager were two parts of myself that blended together perfectly. My goals as a DJ are much different than others in the industry, and I believe by running my business, I am able to grow as a project manager, and by managing projects for Cisco, I am able to grow as a DJ. My main goal as a DJ is to create memorable experiences for all of my clients while also creating a fun, safe space and a sort of escape from reality for others, even if it is only for a few hours.

From making birthday and baby shower playlists for members of my team to showcasing my talent to other teams across Cisco, I’m grateful to be in a work environment that encourages me to continue being a creative, and I hope I am able to continue connecting with others and impacting more people through my passion.

India Williams, Collaborations Customer Success Manager

I have been performing in community theater for ten years and singing practically all my life. Each character I get to portray and each song I choose to sing takes me to another world and allows me to connect with audiences, lift their spirits, and tell a story in a way they have never seen or heard it told. My ability to make a powerful connection with people has carried over nicely into my role as a CSM and as a collaborator with my fellow Cisco colleagues.

Being a creative is ingrained into the fabric of my being. I am grateful for the support Cisco provides for me to thrive in my role while nourishing my passion for theater and performing arts. A wise person once said, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Pursuing creative outlets fuels my spirit and brings fulfillment, which keeps me motivated and enhances my impact at Cisco. I am especially grateful for the opportunities I get to fully bring my gifts to work, such as performing in CBP’s Living History Museum, BHM events, and recording voice-overs for various projects. When passion and profession dance in harmony, it’s a winning melody for all!

Brandon Saunders, Sales Lead Development Representative

Since joining Cisco in February of 2023, there has been a significant improvement in my overall wellness and quality of life. The flexible hybrid work structure empowered me to find a way to achieve so much: a sense of job/financial security, a path for future success, and, most importantly, a sustainable work-life balance. That allows me to dedicate more time, energy, and resources to my art — my music.

I used to feel like I was really just living to work, only using my time not working to rest and prepare for the next workday. Now, it feels more like I’m working to really live my life. It’s been a catalyst of sorts for me to continue to evolve and develop my sound as I create more music.

Cisco creates events, both virtual and in-person, that allow us to either create or share our art with our teams at work. Whether it’s an in-person karaoke open mic event in the Chicago office or a global virtual showcase of artistry at Cisco during Black History Month, Cisco commits resources and budget to EROs and passions we share.

One of the things I am most proud of is our presence and sponsorship of the 2023 AfroTech conference. It meant a lot to see that I was representing a company that demonstrated such a strong presence at the largest event in the world for black and brown professionals in the technology industry.

See how else Cisco is cultivating an environment in which we all thrive.

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Jamari Cortez

Customer Project Manager

Customer Experience (CX) Americas

India Williams

Customer Success Manager, Global Enterprise Segment

Cloud Collaboration Customer Success

Brandon Saunders

Sales Lead Development Representative - Team Lead

Meraki Sales