George holding bird while it cleans its claws   You hear a lot about bringing your full self to Cisco – passions and all – and I’m here to say that I can vouch for that! We’re not just tech geeks looking to change the world, but we’re dog lovers and cat lovers and, yeah, even bird lovers

When I was interviewing for a contract position with Cisco, the standard, “Do you have any planned vacations coming up?” question came up. I replied that I did. I was in the middle of working with BirdTricks, professional parrot trainers known for their permission-based training model, preparing for a trip that November. Freeflight is the result of dedicated training for birds to safely fly outdoors at breathtaking places.

Luckily, it didn’t seem like this trip would hinder my start date or joining the team as a Software Engineer, as Cisco technology enables us to work from anywhere. My Cisco adventure began soon thereafter!

As soon as I started working with my team, they heard all about my Timneh Grey Parrot, Omen. They even got to virtually ‘meet’ Omen as his aviary is right behind my desk, and he is well behaved enough to hang out on a shoulder or perch for a few minutes during a team standup. In the year 2020, his occasional antics fit right in with what we were all experiencing and added to the (much needed) small interruptions of pets and children.

When November finally rolled around, Omen and I headed out to Pahrump, Nevada. Once we got there, our days were mostly free. Between temperature, wind speed, and standard predatory bird patterns, we were only actually flying a few hours in the morning. As a result, I was able to spend most of the day at work and successfully balanced the day between work related tasks and paying attention to my flying little toddler with a beak (aka built-in wire cutters). It was almost no different than if I were at my home office – except that when I had completed work for the day, I’d step outside my ‘office’ into Nevada’s desert to take Omen for a flight or just enjoy the scenery.

Throughout the freeflight trip, my entire team was supportive of my variable schedule. The only ask in return was that I share pictures and stories in our team Webex space so that they could virtually ‘join’ us. My colleague from Australia, for instance, found it entertaining that some of the “exotic birds” participating in the flight trip were, from his perspective, essentially pigeons. (Galahs, also known as rose-breasted cockatoos, are fairly common at the freeflight outings.) It was awesome to get to share this experience and what I am passionate about with them.

Bird flying from post into George's hand.

Being able to share such a big personal win with my entire team so quickly after starting was a new experience for me – in fact, it may have been one of the warmest ways I could think of to welcome a new, virtual employee to the company. It wasn’t just my talent and skillset that was important to my team or to Cisco, but my personal passions, too.

The simultaneous professional support while learning a new company/team/technology and personal support while making such enormous progress in training Omen was certainly something that I had not experienced anywhere else. A few months later, we had even more to celebrate when I was hired as a full time Cisco employee in January!


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George Huber

Software Engineer

Cisco Umbrella