If you follow along with WeAreCisco in social media, you’ll find a lot of great employee photos. The recent #LoveWhereYouWork contest was proof of that.
But you might have seen a few of one Cisco badge-wearer that looks a little different. He’s shorter. Much furrier. Doesn’t talk much. He doesn’t have a smartphone, but he’s had selfies taken with former CEO and now Executive Chairman John Chambers, CEO Chuck Robbins, and a host of other employees from all levels in the Cisco organization.
He’s Koala. He’s my travel companion. And he’s maybe more popular than me. (Editor’s note, Nicole is an Ada Award Digital Woman of the Year Finalist, and an amazing woman in technology, she’s pretty popular around here.)
Koala wasn’t always my travel companion, but here’s how he came to be an unofficial Cisco mascot.
Beijing to San Diego. That’s a lot of miles to rack up when your husband and you are on two different continents. Actually, we were still dating at the time, which just adds long-distance relationship stress.
Being the great partner he is, he knew I loved furry animals. So he gave me two stuffed bears, one was green and one was yellow. So they became known as Green and Yellow. They were my first stuffed travel buddies.
I took Green with me to Beijing, and one evening after coming back to my room I was talking to my husband’s voicemail telling how my day went. I suddenly noticed Green was gone. Still talking into the voicemail (so my husband would get the full effect) I kept saying, in my really sad voice, “Green? Where are you Green? I can’t find Green!”
Next morning when my kind husband was listening to my voicemail he was smiling at my silliness but really felt sorry over my heartbreak of losing the stuffed animal.
Since this was the year of the Sydney Olympics, on his way to Amsterdam from the San Diego airport he bought a new furry animal. A Koala. Which we named, surprisingly, “Koala.” This is how he came into my life.
Shortly after getting my new travel buddy, I had a dinner conversation about how whilst travelling people would be more intersted seeing a Koala in the photo than a real person. This is how Koala’s fame started (but it hasn’t gone to his head.) I made Koala a Facebook page to share his travel adventures with the world.
My Koala bucket list of pictures included having a photo of Koala and then-CEO John Chambers together. However, in order to make that happen, my colleague said Koala would need have an employer badge.
Once that happened, Koala met his first Cisco VIP, and has since had a few photos with John, and has added other VIPs – like CEO Chuck Robbins.
Koala attends events with me as well. He recently went “home” to CiscoLIVE Melbourne, where the other stuffed koalas were jealous of his passport stamps. Before that, he went with me to CiscoLIVE Berlin. He’s been to other smaller events, he appeared in a video with me for the Anita Borg Institute, and gets the VIP treatment at every office we visit.