Filling an open role can be tough, and as a Senior Director in HR, there are many things I look for and consider in a candidate. Will the candidate influence others? Will they pursue learning opportunities to grow within Cisco? Are they able to work independently? And, of course, are they a cultural fit for the team?
They are the same questions most hiring managers ask themselves as we go through the interviewing and hiring process, and they were top of mind for me as I was looking for an HR Business Partner to support our Americas Commercial Sales leaders and teams.
As if right on cue, Latia Harris reached out to me about the opportunity. I had heard positive things about her work ethic, professionalism and brilliance – so we set up a call for an initial conversation. I listened and inquired as she brought a refreshing external perspective, and one that I knew would help propel my team towards a successful year ahead. She was a perfect fit for the role!
After three rounds of interviews and multiple email exchanges – it wasn’t just me that knew this, however, as everyone was aligned; she was the one.
Just as we were about to make an offer, she gave me a call.
“Liz, I have something important to share,” she began. Latia told me that she and her husband were expecting twin girls, and she wanted me to know so that I could “make the best decision for the team.”
My heart broke at the hesitation in her voice, the vulnerability she must be feeling – I had been there myself as a mother of two, and so I needed no time to know what my answer was. We still wanted her on our team.
I ensured Latia knew that I was making this decision because she was the best, long-term decision for our team, and that motherhood is an incredible privilege that she should get to experience. “You are the best person for the job,” I told her, “Pregnancy & maternity leave are only a short time commitment compared to the long tenure I want from you on this team. Please say ‘yes’ to us.”
I wanted her to know that this was more than just a job – and that pregnancy, maternity leave, and becoming a mother didn’t change anything about me wanting her on my team. Latia later told me that this conversation would be her ‘make it or break it’ for joining Cisco.
She said I took a chance on her, I told her I made a choice – and it was an easy one.
On November 12, 2018 Latia joined our team and immediately hit the ground running. She worked tirelessly to learn about not only the HR world, but the world of Americas Sales at Cisco. For five months she took both teams by storm and truly lived the Cisco principle of “Give Your Best.” Her business was going through an insanely difficult transformation and she did all that work while carrying her baby girls, making calls in between doctor’s appointments. This only validated her worth on my team.
When she left for maternity leave, the team felt the gap and so did the business. We knew in those short months she had made her mark on multiple people and we were already counting down the days to having her back with us in September! Plus, we were excited for our two newest little ‘team members’ with her sweet baby girls.
This is just one story of many at Cisco where we put people first. I love that our talent isn’t limited to certain cities or strengths, because we dig deep to find the best talent for each role – no matter where they live, what experience they might have, or what new experiences await them.
Often, we get stuck in sticking to keywords or skill sets, but I’d like to challenge all people leaders at Cisco to be just that – People. Leaders. People first, leader second.
Talent like Latia doesn’t come around all that often – don’t miss out!
Want to join our incredible teams? We’re hiring. Apply now.