Graduating with my Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and securing a post-doctorate position, I was well on my way to staying in academia and becoming a professor. After a year into my post-doctorate, I realized I sought something beyond the satisfaction of publishing in scientific journals and peer recognition. I found myself standing at a crossroads, contemplating my next move. That is when an exciting opportunity at Cisco arrived. The position — Wireless System Engineer — seemed tailored perfectly to my academic background. So, I decided to take a leap of faith.

Niloo and her executive mentor playfully posing in front of white wall with records

As soon as I joined Cisco, I immersed myself in the cutting-edge realms of security, networking, and wireless communication technologies. Every day is intellectually stimulating. I am surrounded by brilliant peers who inspire me to learn and grow. The collaborative spirit here is infectious and fuels my passion for professional development. Despite being relatively new to the company, I’ve had the chance to contribute to various high-impact projects, from indoor location services utilizing the latest ultra-wideband technology to Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC), OpenAFC, tapping into potentials of 6 GHz band spectrum for Wi-Fi, FCC radio regulations, and I’ve even been given an incredible opportunity to apply my expertise in AI and machine learning to the development of Wi-Fi 7 products. The work I am part of is making wireless more accessible for all. I get to apply my knowledge in tackling real-world challenges, finding great fulfillment in transforming my ideas into products that impact people’s daily lives. Seeing my efforts make a real difference outside a university or lab is truly rewarding.

I’ve felt Cisco’s unwavering commitment to personal and professional growth since my first day. Here, every individual is not only valued, but celebrated for their unique contributions. Our leaders are dedicated to recognizing each individual’s unique strengths and strive to match responsibilities with our superpowers, ensuring that each one of us has the opportunity to shine in our roles. At Cisco, this diversity and inclusivity is the cornerstone of our collective success. It was also evident from the start of the onboarding process when I saw all the amazing Inclusive Communities you can be a part of, like Women of Cisco, which I immediately joined. As a woman in tech, discovering a workplace that truly champions the presence and advancement of women has been essential for my career contentment. At Cisco, I don’t just feel like an employee. I feel like part of a supportive community.

After some time in my role, I wondered how to gain more visibility for my work. With Cisco being such a huge company, I wanted to learn how to navigate the corporate landscape and reach new heights in my career.

So, I joined the Executive Shadow Program, a unique Women of Cisco initiative tailored to its female and male ally members. I matched with my executive, and she invited me to join her at one of her offsites, where I observed how she managed her day-to-day tasks for a few days. We had great conversations. She listened to my concerns and gave me advice on navigating tough situations and reaching my goals.

Niloo and her team sit at a table in a restaurant with plates of food on a table in front of them while one man takes a selfie

Shadowing her was an eye-opening experience, providing valuable insights into leadership communication, decision-making in uncertain circumstances, and the career trajectory of our leaders. When you see female leaders who started where you did, took a path like yours, and faced similar challenges, it gives you power and inspires you to do the same thing. The networking opportunities outside my immediate team have broadened my horizons and enriched my professional network, and I continue to connect with my executive mentor regularly. Thanks to this invaluable experience, I better understand how different organizations work internally and in connection with others at Cisco.

As I reflect on my journey at Cisco so far, I’m filled with gratitude for the opportunities, support, and growth that have come my way. This isn’t just a job — it’s a fulfilling adventure where every day brings new challenges and opportunities to learn and grow. With a company culture that nurtures diversity and inclusion and fosters professional development, I’m excited to continue down this path and see where it leads next. Here’s to navigating new horizons and embracing the endless possibilities that lie ahead.

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Niloo Bahadori

Wireless System Engineer

Cisco Wireless