Pelin standing next to crates at a giveback event.What makes a good place to work become a great place to work? Better yet, what makes a company the #1 World’s Best Workplace (two years running)? What makes an employee want to stay, happily, for years – and even decades?

There are so many answers to these questions, and for Cisco that is no different. Yes, it’s about our wonderful culture, people-first focus, and dynamic teams. But, for me, the best in all of that – is not just what’s in our products, but what’s in our hearts. We are a company of givers – and that’s what makes us truly a great place to work.

Over the course of my 15+ year career in engineering and research, I have worked in many different industries including high stress defense and relatively calm academia. But it wasn’t until I started my journey at Cisco two years ago (Happy Ciscoversary to me!) that I worked for an organization that took philanthropy so seriously. Cisco doesn’t want to just give back; they want to make the world a better place.

A few ways Cisco supports employees in their giving back efforts are:

1. Employees receive 40 hours ever year to give back. Yep, it’s true! And not only is that separate from our paid time off – but we can use those 40 hours for any cause we’re passionate about.

2. Cisco matches 100% of employee donations to approved organizations up to $10,000.

3. For every hour an employee spends volunteering with an approved organization, Cisco pays $10 to the non-profit via Bright Funds – which is a double win for the non-profits.

4. Cisco also allows each team to spend a certain amount of time & budget for philanthropy per quarter.

I have been the Philanthropy Lead for the Internet of Things Business Unit Product Operations team for more than a year. I love motivating and encouraging my fellow Cisconians to give back – and have found that there are so many ways to give, too!

I have spent my volunteer hours with the Professional Education Organization International (PEOI), and a Turkish educational non-profit Nesin Vakfi. In previous years, when it was safe to do so, my team would give back at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley and build Christmas gift boxes for children being treated at Lucille-Packard Children’s Hospital.

Pelin in front of Second Harvest Silicon Valley sign.

In 2020, of course things changed, but there was increased demand for Second Harvest Food Bank services, so I decided to give my thanks by giving back! I took the entire Thanksgiving week off to volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley where I sorted food and distribution activities along with PEOI.

These efforts are unique in my experience, and I feel very happy to be a part of a company that provides me with the opportunity to help our collective charitable missions (however small my part may be). It also gives me hope that more companies may take a similar route following Cisco’s example.

As a deep empath, I find the philanthropic mission of Cisco very heartwarming and am grateful to be provided with such tools to give back at a higher level. For me, humanitarian vision of a workplace makes Cisco a great place to work, and I am looking forward to all the good we will bring to the world in the future.


Want to join a company that loves to give? Apply now.

Subscribe to the We Are Cisco Blog


Pelin Salem

Test Development Engineer

Internet of Things (IoT) - Product Operations