9 months ago I was asked to join the Employee Relation (ER) Team, and I turned the offer down. It was a role they had been looking to fill for quite some time in France, and while the team had searched far and wide (and mostly externally) they couldn’t find the right match. That’s when they turned to an internal search to see if, perhaps, someone was already working for Cisco in the EMEAR HR community that could, additionally, speak French.

They found me.

My manager asked if it was a move I might consider. Being a true believer of Team Space (a tool that helps to unlock the power of teams and better understand our strengths) I had spent quite a bit of time discovering what my strengths were. I love action, I love speed, and I am passionate in being assigned a project that I can drive from A to Z. I enjoy building content & seeing results. I find energy in trying to deliver things in a new way, and am always looking for a different approach.

I concluded this role would not allow me to use my strengths, and so – I turned it down.

A couple of months later, my manager came back asking me to re-consider my position. Through her encouragements, I was able to see that this was in fact an opportunity I was ready to own, and that perhaps I could have strengths in this new role too.

Since accepting the challenge, here are two things I have quickly learned:

1. Never assume you know exactly what a role is when you have not yet experienced it – Through this role I have learned more about what the ER team is and what they are doing. This experience has helped me to understand that it is about so much more than picking up employee cases or being on the phone solving conflicts all the time. Instead, it is a beautiful role where I have the chance to meet great people from different organizations. Whether it is a manager or an employee – I’m able to help support them, and solve their concerns. I get emotional with them too, even though you wouldn’t normally do this! It is still my learning curve. Our team strives to base the employee experience on safety and trust.

It is a very challenging role as people are looking to me for advice. I am THE person to go to – the ER Consultant. I have to make sure what I’m recommending is the best, for both the employee and for Cisco. I work to find the balance between what is happening, the country legislation, and most importantly, I help to put a human side on the experience too.

It can be stressful, and at times, overwhelming – but it is also a satisfying moment when it works out perfectly.

 2.Do something you are scared of, it will open you to the unknown – This experience has been a real eye opener to me. I had previously told my manager I wanted to be challenged more and to work on my career development – and when an opportunity came? I declined it! Thank goodness my leadership was listening!

It took me a while to understand that the reason I initially declined the offer was out of fear! I was afraid of not meeting the expectations they had in place for this role, and was afraid of not being recognized as an ER professional. I was afraid of the unknown (what was this role about anyway?) and I think that’s something we’ve all experienced at one point or another.

I am extremely grateful to have been pushed out of my comfort zone by my leadership team. I should not have put so much pressure on myself – everyone had my back from the beginning! Between the HR leadership team, the team in France, and the ER team – I had all the support I needed to be successful in this role.

Because of this experience, I was able to see that I still don’t know myself 100% yet and that we’re always able to learn new things about ourselves. I can’t believe I actually declined this opportunity that I now enjoy, embrace, and have learned so much from! And, now, I know for the future that I can DO the “scary things” in life.

In my HR Consultant role, I support leaders in the way they organize, change and lead their organization. I am the one who is pushing them to their limits!  But when it happened to me, I reacted with fear instead of embracing the challenge.

I think this now helps me to understand another person’s hesitation, and why they may not be immediately accepting of change.

Cisco is a big family and I should have not forgotten that one fact. You are never alone at Cisco, and you are always encouraged by leadership to seek opportunities to grow and expand your current set of skills. I was supported by various teams in this transition, and – of course – because of their support I made it through!

I learned about a whole new role here at Cisco, and I even found new potential in myself. I had no idea I was capable of this until I was asked by those who knew I was the right candidate.

Moral of the story? Don’t let the fear of failing keep you from accepting new challenges. Especially not here at Cisco – everyone wants you to succeed, and with their support – you will!

Want to join a team that encourages you to grow? We’re hiring. Apply now.


Clemence Boon

HR Consultant

GSMC HR Consultant Delivery