I’ve dreamt about flying ever since I was a kid. Sadly, sometimes dreams like this tend to fade with time, more so when you realize that the ultimate form of freedom is probably only meant for birds – but, is it really?

This dream never left me and, over time, I developed a desire to take on the closest thing to having wings – skydiving. That’s right, I decided that I wanted to jump out of a perfectly working plane and take to the skies! What I didn’t realize, perhaps, is how this would also enhance my work life here at Cisco.

Whilst most of us would typically choose a tandem skydiving adventure, I went full-speed ahead and enrolled at a skydiving school for my giant leap of faith from 13,000 ft. February 2015 marked the start of my journey into a world of adventure, brotherhood, and overcoming my fear.

What sets skydiving apart from other sports is the intensity and mix of emotions associated with the experience. Every jump usually starts with a planning phase and the excitement builds up when the team agrees on a plan of action or maneuvers to execute during the jump. The 10-minute ride to altitude is a time to reflect, secure your equipment, and check on your buddies.

Fear, however, can make a person do some crazy things, or even absolutely nothing at all. It’s something I’ve always been mindful of. That being said, I have come to realize that almost anything worth having, or any success worth achieving has stood at the other side of fear –  it could be something as simple as delivering a killer presentation in front of a large crowd. For me, I’ve always been afraid of failure.

It is this fear that has on many occasions prevented me from even taking a single step toward something. Skydiving has taught me that when you do your homework, prepare as best you can, and take a leap of faith – things work out in the end. Perhaps in some surreal way, this is how skydiving helped me with both my personal and professional life.

At Cisco, we all face challenges every now and then. We have a myriad of products, technologies and competitors that we need to know and understand before speaking to our customers. We also need to be able to meet with different types of people, manage conflict, address customers when challenged about our products or services, etc. Skydiving equips me with the confidence to know that if I am prepared well enough to jump out of a plane? I can handle any situation that comes my way.

I’ve been with Cisco for four years now, and you learn fairly quickly you’re your colleagues become your extended family. I also know my management team is always there to mentor me and equip me with what I need to succeed. We have each other’s backs here, and ever since I started skydiving, my Cisco colleagues have been very supportive of me. Many look up to me with a sense of pride, for doing something that is seemingly so out of reach.

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This created a drive and passion inside of me to give back to the number one networking company in the world, and what better way than taking its name into the clouds with me, right? The Network Intuitive is our biggest launch in over 10 years and I wanted to highlight it to the world. So on one of my most recent jumps, I did just that with a Cisco Network Intuitive flag flapping behind me as I made the leap.

Perhaps three things I have learned both at Cisco and while skydiving – that I constantly apply in my personal and professional life are:

1. It is an endless journey of training. Never stop learning, the world is changing by the second and you don’t want to be left behind. Never be “too big” to learn something new.

2. Perseverance is key. Never give up no matter how many times you fail. It’s the getting up and trying again that counts.

3. It’s more fun when you play well with others. Jumping out of planes by yourself is boring, and not being part of the bigger Cisco team is career limiting. Work together, collaborate, share ideas – you never know who you’ll meet, or how you’ll change the world when you open up those doors.


Karim S. Hamandi

Systems Engineer