My love story with Cisco began as a young girl in Greenville, SC where I could often be found begging my dad to take me with him to work – at the Cisco offices, which I thought were the coolest offices on the planet (and I wasn’t wrong). Cubicles, heavy machinery, and a fridge full of every soda imaginable – some kids had Disney World, I had Cisco.
Back then, I was inspired by the latest, greatest, and hottest piece of technology: the Xerox machine. Okay, okay – so it was hardly the hottest piece of tech, but to a 5-year-old with big dreams – this Xerox machine was what I had to work with. One day, during a particularly amazing streak of brilliance, I decided to make copies of my whole body, tape them together, and hang “Cisco Girl” in a neighboring cubicle. Occasionally, Cisco Girl would make her way to an unsuspecting engineer’s cubicle for just the right fright, luckily the engineers could also read and understand the body schematics. It seemed to be a win-win for us all.
There was simply nothing cooler to me than getting to tag along with my Dad to the office for a day. Even at such a young age, I knew he was the most hard-working and dedicated family man – and I had every aspiration to be just like him when I grew up.
Now at 26-years-old, still, getting to Cisco wasn’t as easy as you might think. Yes, I grew up here, but landing my dream job at Cisco was still one of the most rewarding challenges of my life!
While in college at Clemson University, I studied Business with an emphasis in Information Systems. I did everything I could to become knowledgeable on all things Cisco, like taking an internship at ScanSource so that I could learn about the Distribution side of things! From there, I shifted from the Cisco obsessed ScanSource intern to the Cisco CSA (Commercial Sales Associate) tasked with spreading my Cisco obsession to all at ScanSource. I loved this role and felt like I was really immersed in every aspect of Cisco.
Every day was a step towards my aspirations of getting in the Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP) in Raleigh. I knew after that I’d be on my way to becoming a Cisco Account Manager! Unfortunately, year after year, my hopes were crushed as I took home rejection letter upon rejection letter from the program. Still, I didn’t let this discourage me.
Instead of rejection, I saw this as an opportunity to learn, self-train, and grow so that I could find another route into making my dreams come true!
The perfect opportunity for me arose when the TBM (Territory Business Manager) role opened in New York City. It fulfilled all my hopes – to sit alongside the Commercial Territory teams and churn business development leads into actual sales! After mastering the TBM role, my management team supported my ultimate quest into a Quota-carrying role as GTAM (Geo Territory Account Manager) where I worked with SMB customers to transform their technology solutions! I’ve since transitioned from carrying over 2,500 SMB customers to a new challenge of managing one large customer as a GAM (Global Account Manager) in the financial services sector.
It took a lot of dedication and hard work, but I’m so excited to have finally landed my dream job at Cisco!
Choosing Cisco for my career was an easy one for me. As other kids in my classes growing up proclaimed that they wanted to be doctors or firefighters, I confidently told them that I wanted to be the CEO of Cisco someday. To me, joining Cisco was the equivalent of joining the family business. Even saying that, I realize it is so much more than just a workplace – to me, Cisco is my family.
It’s a place that allows me to have a ‘family reunion’ each year with my dad in Las Vegas, NV during Cisco IMPACT (our global sales conference) – where we celebrate each other’s success amongst our closest friends. Much of that success started with him many years ago, and I am proud to ‘carry the torch.’
It’s also a place that inspires me to continue to grow, from “Cisco Girl” to Cisco #WomanInTech – I am constantly reminded of how powerful and supportive Cisco is in both little day-to-day ways and big moments. Recently, Gerri Elliott, our Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, and Fran Katsoudas, our Chief People Officer, visited the New York City offices where we were able to hear their perspectives on leadership, culture, and what’s made Cisco the #1 World’s Best Workplace.
Did I need another reason to reinvigorate my passion for Cisco? Probably not, but I already know my list is endless and I’m energized in knowing how much growth is out there for us.
I wake up each morning and am grateful for the opportunity to be a Cisco employee. At Cisco, I am surrounded by the kindest and brightest people in the industry. And I feel like I am one of the luckiest people on earth, because I get to channel my lifelong passion for Cisco into a vision that now benefits my customers.
Cisco still stands for everything I’ve ever admired and adored as a kid. It is the place I go for support, mentorship, personal and technical growth, and encouragement. The employees and our families are truly at the heart of Cisco.
I’ve inherited my father’s love of Cisco, and I hope that one day I can pass down the same passion to my family. Although my badge might say “5 Year Anniversary” – this “Cisco Girl” is proudly celebrating her 23rd Ciscoversary.
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Awesome Story Blakely !! It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you in the team ! Wishing you the very best.
What an awesome story
Great story, great journey and you have only just begun, I can see you as CEO someday.
You rock, Blakely!! Love this.
Awesome story Blakely! So proud of how far you’ve come and I’m excited to see more what’s to come! Sending love to you and the Cisco family ❤️
Blakely, congratulations and thank you for sharing your journey! I too marveled at the Xerox machine as a kid, and its imaging technology inspired me to get into DTP (desktop publishing).
As a recent new hire at Cisco, your story is inspiring.
Love it your story to inspire passion for what you do. Its not a job if you love it and work daily to make the world a better place with our technology. Thank you for sharing.. I too been here 22yrs at Cisco and everything you said is true 🙂
Great story Blakely! You are your father are great examples of why Cisco is the best place in the world to work!
Awesome article Blakely, keeps those dreams and drive alive!
WOWWW! I just love your story Blakely! It does inspire me. In one way or the other, I can resonate well with you.
I am a one-man company! Joined Cisco via the CSAP program and I will be celebrating my 10 years anniversary very soon!
Indeed a wonderful company – I grew from a young fresh graduate to a well rounded Account Manager today – thanks to the people in Cisco!
Fantastic story, Blakely, and one that my 9 year old daughter is striving to replicate! Congratulations to you on all of your dedication and hard work!
Great Story . Congratulations
Thanks for sharing Blakely, I know many new joiners coming to Cisco due to the positive experience their parents have had working here. So glad to see this was the case for you also.
So much fun to read. Thanks for sharing your unique story, Blakely, and keep the Cisco family banner up high. It’s worth it.
Similar to your dad, I helped build Cisco for 14 years and expanded the CSAP development in Europe and Emerging with the CSAP management team in Amsterdam at its early stage in the 2000s. There are only a few things in life that feel better, also in hindsight 2020.
You are Awesome Blakely!!! Thank you for sharing your awesome story.
This inspires me to take my daughter to work more often.
Great article for inspiring Cisco employees to show their children the impact their parents are having in transforming the businesses of tomorrow…and their future.
Hey wait a min!?? I know that little girl!!! Glad to know ya both for decades.
I was Cisco boy bugging your dad and his SEs as the other student intern at scansource trying to play with all the toys you claimed first!!! & it only took 15+ years to be an official Cisco Nerd!
Big thank you also goes to him for enabling me & still talking to me to strategize on our coffee talks way way early in the mornings.
& Now you for all the chats at impact and brain storming.
Here’s to never giving up & Cisco as a family!!!
Medi, It’s people like you that make it such a great “family” to work with!
Jim. Proud. Big daddy , what a great feeling for you an That Great Women you have raised ❤️❤️❤️ CU. Soon 👍
Awesome Story Blakely. Appreciate you and your Dads dedication and Love for Cisco. I have been here for 18 years and used to bring my daughter into the office on certain days. She could have some drinks from the cooler and make whiteboard drawings etc while I was on calls. She thought it was great. Now she is a Marketing Manger for General Dynamics IT, MilCloud 2.0 partnering with Cisco and many other IT companies. It is a very proud moment when your daughter gets hired into technology and can embrace it like you have…. Congrats on your hard work and your future success.
Awesome….. even I have passion towards Cisco just like you have. Thank you for sharing this gave me motivation not to loose hopes to get into Cisco.
Love this! Having worked with both you and your dad, I can emphatically say we are so lucky to have you both carrying the Cisco banner! Thanks for sharing your story, Blakely, and Go Tigers!
Wonderful story Blakely!!! Would love to know you more! 🙂
Thank you for sharing your inspirational story! I hope to instill the same drive for success and love for Cisco into my children.
Looks like we have one more thing in common…I started working at Cisco, just around the same time you were born!
Blakely, I love your passion!
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