32 hours non-stop. Pushing boundaries. Thinking creatively and innovating in ways never thought possible.

That sums up the recent 4th Annual Enterprise Networking Group (ENG) Hackathon.

It sounds like it’s all around solving business challenges to transform Cisco and technology (which it is) but it’s also about teamwork and having FUN together – it’s a blast to see Cisco folks at work. If a positive side effect is increase in revenue, that’s a bonus, but that’s not what motivates us.

At Cisco, everyone from the top down is a strong believer that the strength of our company comes from its people. That’s why our team thinks, either disrupt, or you get disrupted! Thus, the Hackathon idea was born.

Hackathon organizers

For the non-engineers among the readers, a hackathon is a sprint-like event where we tackle complex problems and emerge after a fun, but tiring, specific time frame with innovative ideas and ways to better change the world.

It’s special because it’s an event by engineers, for engineers. Different perspectives are not only welcomed, they’re encouraged! I love organizing these hackathons. When you see 350+ engineers work straight for 30 hours, 55+ out of box and innovative ideas being worked on, collaboration at its peak, and the excitement of business leaders as they experience working demos at the end of hackathon – anyone would get inspired to do more! This is what motivates me to keep organizing hackathons.

Hackathon fun

You don’t have to be an engineer to get inspired by a hackathon. Here are three things I’ve learned, both in past events and in this year’s event.

1. Collaboration is key Events like this provide a great platform to socialize and make new friends/connections which can be cherished lifelong. When you come together in a setting like this, you can exercise and sharpen their collaboration skills at an unimaginable pace.

2. Diverse perspectives get the best results – When you bring your unique self and set of skills to the table with other people who are also unique with different skillsets, you’ll blow your mind with all of the creative and out of the box ideas you’ll have. If you surround yourself with people who think the same as you, you might not consider all the possibilities.

3. No problem is too big for a creative solution (and it’s okay to fail and get up!) Engineers at hackathons like this get real experience in transformation as they provide real life experiences where one can fail fast while continuously improving and learning. If you’re not thinking freely/creatively/constructively/wildly then you’re not doing yourself justice. The best ideas come from the most out of the box thoughts.

Maybe you’ll be inspired to have a marketing hackathon, or an HR hackathon, or a sales hackathon (Cisco employees have done them!)

What can you hack on today that will change the world?

Want to hack on your career path? Check out open opportunities on the Cisco Careers website!



Jimit Maheta

Director Software Development

CSG PD Switching Access - US