I grew up in a ravishingly small village in Gujarat, India named Vekariya. My parents were farmers, and I was going to a rural private school where my teachers found me as a bright student. I eventually left school to take up the responsibility of caring for my younger brother, doing house chores, and cooking at the age of seven. All of this, while helping my parents on the farm.
After a few days of this, my teacher told my father, “It’s okay if she can’t come to school. We will allow her to take exams, please don’t discontinue her study, she is a bright student.” My dad agreed and allowed me to continue with my studies. I didn’t physically attend school for three years but excelled in my exams. I asked my father to let me continue my education and he agreed to admit me to a government school where I studied for another three years – and ranked third in the state during my 10th grade year.
My father was so proud when I placed third in the state. He then asked me, “What do you want to do next?” I knew exactly what my answer would be, “Science.”
That year, I was the only girl in my village who took up science. Following another successful year with my grades, the was only one question that kept me occupied throughout the summer, “Which stream do I choose next?” There was truly no one to guide me, no information to refer to, and no access to the internet. I took a leap of faith and chose electronics and communication from Gujarat University.
This is where things got interesting, as up until this moment speaking English was not the norm for me. Then, there I was, at university, struggling and facing hiccups in my new class of 75 boys and 7 girls – all while learning English and needing to be fluent and confident. This moment was difficult, and it made me reassess my priorities. But I studied hard, graduated, and secured a Bachelor of Electronics and Communications Engineering degree.
I was the first girl to have graduated and become an Electronics Engineer from my village.
I told my father that I wanted to relocate to Bangalore or Pune so that I could start my career, but coming from an Orthodox society, our culture is one where girls should not study beyond what is needed or work alone in the city. There was a lot of peer pressure on my father, and with that it was decided that I would get married first, then find work.
Luckily, I married a very understanding and loving partner and have supportive in-laws. I started my career as a lecturer in Gujarat, although my dream was always to work for a big, reputable company. I told my husband, “Let’s move to Pune or Bangalore, both are cities that are IT hubs, both would be new to us.” We decided to come to Bangalore, where I got a job as a field engineer in a startup company. This was not my ideal role, and there were a lot of struggles – but with every struggle comes growth, strength and progress.
On my commute to that job, I used to see the Cisco logo, and often dreamed of becoming a Network Engineer there. Later, I changed roles and was placed in an MNC where I learned a lot and worked hard for four years. Around that time, I thought of applying to Cisco – and surprisingly I was offered the role! It was so hard for me to believe my dream had come true.
I am now working as a Technical Consultant Engineer on the Customer Experience (CX) team. My leaders are highly supportive, awe-inspiring people that I learn a lot from. I never imagined that I could have a role at one of the best technology companies in the world. But here I am!
Cisco is an incredible company, and really, I feel this is not just a company – but a family that I can grow with, learn from, and do what I love doing alongside.
Ready to join us? Check out our careers.