Have you ever been so inspired that you felt driven to give back? My involvement in Cisco’s MentorMe program was just that — a transformative experience of empowerment and growth that ignited my passion for guiding others toward success.

Sadaf and her mentee, Maanya.
Sadaf and her mentee, Maanya.

This program embodies Cisco’s commitment to actively promoting diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) by targeting underrepresented groups, particularly female tertiary students, in Australia and New Zealand. Women remain underrepresented in STEM fields, comprising only a fraction of the workforce, especially in technology-related roles. Recognising this disparity, MentorMe invites and encourages female students to explore educational and career paths in STEM. By providing hands-on exposure to the latest technology and diverse roles within Cisco, the program empowers these students to pursue opportunities in traditionally male-dominated fields.

In my two years as a mentor within the MentorMe program, my role extended beyond simply imparting knowledge; it became a platform for building meaningful connection and nurturing potential with my mentees as well as being a cornerstone of my professional development. Throughout the program, we engaged in personalised 1:1 mentoring sessions where we discussed career aspirations, strengths, and areas for development. I facilitated networking opportunities for them within Cisco, connecting them with professionals from diverse backgrounds and roles to broaden their perspectives and build their professional networks.

Additionally, I provided guidance on personal branding, helping them develop their online presence and professional image to stand out in the competitive job market. Together, we set SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound — and worked towards achieving them, fostering their confidence and independence in navigating their career paths. Through ongoing support, encouragement, and mentorship, these women built their brands and prepared for success in the professional world.

Sadaf and her mentee, Wendi.
Sadaf and her mentee, Wendi.

Reflecting on these experiences, I realize that my mentees’ journeys have become a mirror to my own growth. The deep bonds formed with my Australia and New Zealand team members and witnessing the progress of my mentees throughout the program makes me incredibly proud. Celebrating their milestones, like my first mentee, Maanya’s completion of the program and my second mentee, Wendi’s graduation, reinforces my belief in the power of mentorship to shape futures. Wendi surprised me with flowers, which touched me deeply but highlighted our genuine connection and reminded me that mentorship is not just about professional development but also about the meaningful relationships we create. These connections extend beyond the program’s conclusion, as I am committed to staying in touch with my mentees to continue supporting their growth. They can always rely on me for guidance, support, and help with any questions, and I look forward to witnessing their achievements in the future.

Cisco’s ethos of empowerment and inclusivity resonates deeply with me. The opportunity to participate in programs like MentorMe reaffirms my conviction that Cisco is more than just a workplace; it’s a community where individuals are empowered to make a difference.

As I continue my journey at Cisco, I am inspired by the shared commitment to innovation and collaboration that defines our culture. From mentorship programs to technological advancements, Cisco offers a platform to contribute to something greater, making it a truly exceptional place to work.

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Sadaf Soroush

Success Programs Manager

Cisco AppDynamics