Brett smiles wearing a black hat with a white Cisco logo holding his favorite navy and white Cisco mug.We all have that one favorite coffee mug – or water bottle – or pen. Maybe to some, they’re just office supplies – but to us, they’re a little bit of “connection” right here on our desk. If we’re lucky, these items might also have a memory – a moment that matters – attached to them.

Currently, I have one of my Cisco mugs nearby, a gift from my manager when I first joined her team 8 months ago. It reminds me of the connection I have to our Chief of Staff team, and to Cisco as a whole. It’s not rare that I go out of my way to paw around our cupboard to find my Cisco mug in the morning to fill with coffee. The day just seems to start better with my Cisco mug. 

It may be of no surprise then that I am super proud and grateful to work for Cisco. The fact that I am a culture nerd, surrounded by other culture nerds (including our SVP), fuels the enthusiasm I have for what I do. What’s not to love about intentionally and proactively understanding and improving our (already awesome) culture 

Earlier this year, our team of culture nerds came together to discuss an initiative we were creating for our team’s new hires and the experience we wanted them to have. I mean, everyone has started a new job before, right? Excitement, anxiety, curiosity, fear, ambition… fire up the blender, it is likely a mix of all these and more. So, how could we help our team’s newest members to connect and feel more at home right away? 

We decided on a “surprise and delight” effort to communicate our most important message: you belong and you matter. And what better way to do that than with a new-hire swag bag – er, swag box?!

Together with my co-workers Maria Zivoli and Megan Withers – we created these new-hire swag boxes with love in our hearts – carefully selecting each item as we would a gift for a family member. And with the support of our Chief of Staff Director, Varsha Kanwar and SVP Tony Colon, we now send these out in the mail to kick-start a wider cultural enrollment to welcome our new team members, saying: you belong and you matter. 

A Cisco Customer Experience new hire smiling with their new-hire swag box, complete with water bottle, mug, and a notebook.

True, not everyone is a coffee drinker – but we thought there would be a moment of excitement and belonging when each new team member opened their swag box with a mug (and a few other Cisco goodies) inside. We hoped this official “Welcome to the Team! Welcome to Cisco!” experience would be a moment that mattered for them for years to come. 

What we didn’t realize was that, in an instant, the world would change, and an overwhelming majority of the globe would be working remotely – yes, even new-hires.

We’re lucky in that Cisco had already embraced remote working years ago, and so our organization had the muscle memory and experience to transition to working from home. This isn’t to say that it was easy, given the nature of having our families now working and learning from home as well – but it is to say that remote work wasn’t new to most of us, and these kinds of efforts have never been more prescient than they are today. 

Because of our culture and technology, we were ready. And – because of our swag boxes – our team was also ready to welcome new-hires in a meaningful way; attempting to extend a warm welcome and the sense of belonging, remotely. 

Here’s to cheers-ing our Cisco coffee mugs via Webex, while creating more moments that matter in the future.

 Ready to join our team? We’re hiring. Apply now. 


Brett Lovins

Project Manager, Culture Nerd & Recovery Advocate

ONEx Platform & Services CoS Team