Let’s get this out of the way. I’m Carmen, and I’m a Harry Potter nerd.

When times are dark, wise Dumbledore reminds me that I need only to turn on the light (Lumos!) Professor Lupin helps me remember that even if you’re “different,” you’re important.  Hermione helps me stand in my strength knowing that it’s a good thing to be a strong woman and a great friend. And even Professor Snape showed me that true love is always.

Oh, and I have a wand, which allows me to walk around Universal Orlando waving it like a crazy person making it rain, turning lights on and off and performing all kinds of magic.

What has this got to do with Cisco, you ask?

I think working at Cisco is a lot like going to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Everyone at Cisco has their strengths, like being sorted into houses by the Sorting Hat. We’re all different, but it’s what brings us together that makes us perform wonderful acts of technology magic through what we call “the power of teams.”

Except we don’t use a Sorting Hat. We use a tool called Teamspace. This helps us understand what our strengths are and what strengths our colleagues have, so that we can understand what we each bring to the table to make our world a better place through technology.

My team is made up of the humans behind this blog and behind the @WeAreCisco social media channels (like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat.) By giving Teamspace info about what motivates us, what gives us passion and how we respond to different situations, our “sorting hat” tells us what each person’s greatest value is for our team using what it calls Standout Roles. As the team lead, I can then make sure that each person is working on projects where they can “stand out” and let their individuality shine. There are nine standout roles, and Teamspace “sorts” us by our two top roles.

I went to the website Pottermore a long time ago (I told you I was a nerd) and was sorted into my house. I was devastated that I wasn’t in Gryffindor. Turns out, I’m a Hufflepuff.

“You might belong in Hufflepuff, where they are just and loyal, those patient Hufflepuffs are true, and unafraid of toil”

My top two Teamspace roles were Advisor and Equalizer. The Advisor role is a practical, concrete thinker who is most powerful when reacting to and solving other people’s problems. An Equalizer is someone who is a level-headed person whose power comes from keeping the world in balance, ethically and practically.

Look at that! I am a Hufflepuff! (Minus the “patient” part – hey, we all have something we could be better at!)

One of my teammates, Ray (he’s an especially good project manager for our team, and he led the design of our new Careers site) is also a Hufflepuff! One of his Standout Roles is Equalizer like mine, but he’s also a Teacher. The Teacher role is one that helps other people see potential in themselves and helps them unleash it! Ray makes up for my lack of the Hufflepuff patience – and it’s why we make a great team!

I tested this budding theory on some of my coworkers. Thinking for sure that this was just a coincidence, turns out, it’s not!

You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart, their daring, nerve, and chivalry set Gryffindors apart.

I have some colleagues that I just adore working with, even though we’re not on the same direct team. But at Cisco, that doesn’t matter. It’s all about working together to get things done!

I didn’t know this previously (maybe this revokes my Harry Potter nerd card) but Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors are often great friends.

Take my great friend, Jill. She and I are #CiscoBesties. She, unsurprisingly, is a Gryffindor. She is also the (newly-promoted!) Director of the Employee Newsroom and her Standout Roles are Provider and Pioneer. Her Provider strength and Gryffindor’s chivalry go hand-in hand. Providers can sense what other people are feeling and give them a voice. Pioneers remind me of the bravery of the house, with optimism in the face of uncertainty.

I have a newer relationship, but a very strong bond, with another colleague, Maxine, who is also a Gryffindor, and has a new role at Cisco as Lead Operations for Employee Communications. She has the Pioneer trait that Jill has, but also the Equalizer trait that I have.

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw, if you’ve a ready mind, where those of wit and learning, will always find their kind.

Another one of my teammates, Casie, is a Ravenclaw. She also has the Advisor strength, but her top strength is that of Teacher. Those with this strength are thrilled by the potential they see in each person and their power comes from learning how to unleash it.

So far, my theory of Teamspace Strengths and Hogwarts Sorting is spot on! I’ll admit that my theory has only begun to be proven and has a very small sample size. I couldn’t find anyone who would admit to being in Slytherin, however, to test my theory on.

Or perhaps in Slytherin, you’ll make your real friends, those cunning folks use any means, to achieve their ends.

I know Slytherin gets the short end of the stick in many Harry Potter fans’ hearts, but they bring value too! I would guess that the Stimulator Standout Role would fit nicely with making those real friends. Stimulators feel responsible for other people’s emotions, to turn them around and elevate them!

The whole point is that everyone at Cisco has strengths we bring to the table. In the end, when the choice comes down to make a difference in the world, we all band together and bring our individual skills to make Cisco one of the best companies I’ve ever worked for.

Tell us in comments what Hogwarts House you’re in, and what strengths you have that you think “sorted” you there!



Carmen Shirkey Collins

Social Media Manager

Talent Brand and Enablement Team, HR