The past 6 months have been my hardest at Cisco, yet maybe have taught me the most about why I love where I work.

My organization, Customer Experience, went through some of the largest changes many Cisco employees had ever seen. I’ve been at Cisco for almost 4 years, but from what I have heard from several senior team members – there had never been a change quite like this.

The several-month-long process involved a complete rebrand of our former organization, Cisco Services, and combined multiple siloed groups into one. As with many changes, managers and employees were impacted.  Some stayed put, some were told they could work to find a new position, and some were shifted to different teams.

I was shifted.

Change is always tough.

This was the kind of change that forced me to move away from a team where I felt successful, valued, and had a great relationship with my manager and teammates. It was also the kind of change that filled me with visions as my talented co-workers who were impacted had to navigate their future.

When I first learned I’d be moving to a new team, where the leadership did not know me, I was nervous. All I could think about was what I was losing – my co-workers and manager, my work, my desk (I even had to move buildings) and most painfully – the reputation I had worked so hard to build.

Thankfully, despite my negative emotions, I found a community in my network of co-workers. They’ve been there every step of the way to offer me support, mentorship, or to be a listening ear. I’ve been encouraged, and I’ve been shown tough love, more than ever before. The conversations I had with some of my colleagues inspired and challenged me to turn the narrative around and figure out just how I was personally going to get through these changes.

After 6 months, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Be upset and then get over it—I started to realize that my negativity fueled more negativity. A good attitude may not always come naturally in the face of uncertainty, so you have to be deliberate. I think you should allow yourself time to process your situation when facing a difficult change, but not indefinitely. Set a date for when you’ll start to focus on your list of goals.

2. Make a list of goals—What can you control? I bet you can come up with long list. Once I decided to get focused on achieving rather than wallowing in pity, I found myself pretty busy. I reached out to team members who could use help with various tasks, worked on stretch assignments, completed my Data Science Ambassador certification, and volunteered.

3. Do something you’re passionate about—Hopefully it is, but even if it’s not at Cisco, make sure you’re doing something you’re passionate about. I felt motivated when I continued to cultivate my passions and hobbies amidst uncertainty at work.  As an arts & crafts and creative junkie, sometimes this was creating Instagram Stories for the WeAreCisco team and sometimes it was practicing my cookie decorating skills at home.

4. Leverage your network—Connect with your mentors and peers when you’re going through a tough time. Chances are they’ve been there too and can offer some advice. Underneath the titles and hierarchies, we’re all human beings navigating our career journeys. I truly value the wonderful relationships I’ve made at Cisco.

The sweet side of uncertainty for me was accomplishing goals despite not having clear work/projects, continuing to grow and learn with trainings and hobbies, learning that having a good attitude is a conscious choice, and most importantly strengthening the relationships in my network.

For the last few months, I’ve spent hours decorating cookies at home after work. It was therapeutic and fun. It was no surprise to me that my peers congratulated me when they found out I’d started working part time at a local bakery! They understand having a passion for something and to always, always continue learning and challenging yourself in life.

So yes, even when facing uncertainty, I still LOVE where I work. I decorated a We Are Cisco cookie just to show it!

Even when you love where you work, you still may struggle with change. There’s a sweet side to every situation and with the help of my co-workers, I’m thankful I’ve found it.

Want to join a supportive team? We’re hiring. Apply now.


Ileana Cates

Employer Brand Manager

WeAreCisco Employer Brand Team