As the summer holiday season in Europe has drawn to an end, and I reflect on the time spent relaxing in the sunshine – I’m reminded of the saying; TIME is a gift, use it wisely! I believe Cisco is a great master at enabling us all to use the time we have more effectively.

As a full-time marketing storyteller in Cisco UK and the mother of two boys, Dylan and Donovan, I certainly have my hands full on a daily basis. Carving time out to do the things I really love can be challenging, and even exhausting at times – but not impossible!

Here’s how Cisco is enabling – and encouraging – me to succeed every day!

  1. Work/Life Balance

 Working at Cisco has allowed me to take advantage of our technology capabilities to work full-time around my busy life. So, it’s not unusual to see me at the school gates waiting for children with my headphones on and talking during a conference call or in my sportswear running around the local parks listening to a podcast or WebEx recording – this is normal life for me. Funny as I am often the envy of my friends who just can’t manage to get their banking careers digitized! 😉

It’s not just about having flexible policies in place, either – it’s also about embracing the cultural change to working differently, and truly balance life. At Cisco, I believe we really have the right combination in place to ensure our employee’s success.

Family holiday in Portugal, July 2017

  1. Pursuing My Passions

When I moved from London to Scotland 10 years ago, I took networking for granted. In Cisco London I had access to female role models, career advice, and a great network who still supports my development to date. In Scotland, there was very little female presence in the office, no formal or informal tech networking groups, and within one year of living in Glasgow I started to feel quite isolated and disconnected from the industry in general.

Leveraging my networks from London, I was encouraged and supported by Cisco to create the Scotland Women in Technology (SWiT) group.  A group where women from the tech industry can come together and informally network, share experiences, learn from one another – and more importantly – inspire one another. This also helps to influence the future female generations to be a part of our industry – something I am really passionate about!

Seeing the faces of younger girls in schools who you have been inspired with your personal story of working in tech still to this day gives me that warm glow from inside.

Well into its 9th year, SWiT members continuing to grow, our political influence is increasing and the events calendar is becoming busier each month! Making time to keep this well-oiled machine would be difficult if it wasn’t for the volunteer hours Cisco provides each year to employees – five whole days to give back in ways of our choosing, that we are most passionate about.

This initiative allows me to log my hours and half days for the keynotes I do, the schools and universities I work with, and the board meetings I attend so that I can keep SWiT going and continue to work on this passion in addition to my daily role.

Meet the SWiT Board – women in tech from Sopra Steria, JP Morgan, Cisco, IBM, Dufrain, HSBC, HPE

  1. Giving Back

 It’s really important to me to have time to give back to the organisations I care about, from charities to the environment.

Inspired by a keynote from one of Cisco’s own, Jean Kerr, and the Pavelka House launch last summer, I worked with SWiT to take on the challenge of climbing Ben Nevis this year, the highest point in Britain. And on June 17th, raising a total of £2,234.63 for our chosen charities – we did just that! Having access to tips, advice, and the hours to actually do the training was really key.

If it wasn’t for Cisco’s program I don’t think I would have ever done something like this! To be able to stretch yourself, grow, and accomplish new challenges you never dreamed of achieving it truly remarkable, and it’s all thanks to Cisco’s encouragement!

Silka and fellow SWiT member at the summit of Ben Nevis – 1,345 metres above sea level

  1. Recognition

Recently, through my SWiT and Board work I was also nominated for an award – and much to my surprise I made it into the Top 100 Asian Stars in UK Tech for 2017, alongside my role models like James Caan and Eileen Buridge and some other very cool names! And, to think, I’m not even in a technical role here at Cisco, but I’ve made it to this list! It’s really such an honour, and so nice to be recognized for the work I’m doing.

Having a lot on my plate works for me as this is often what Cisco encourages us to do, but giving us the tools and support to actually bring ideas and projects to life makes me feel very proud to be associated with such a company like ours.

Where else can you find an organisation that will help you climb a mountain, follow your passions, and get recognition in the process! Thank you Cisco for allowing me – and encouraging me – to be me.

Want to join a company that encourages you to pursue your passions? We’re hiring!

To read more about Silka’s Ben Nevis Climb, click here.



Silka Patel

Marketing Manager, Digital Transformation & Software - UKI