It’s an awesome feeling to wake up each day and know that your efforts are making a difference for the greater good. When I was a soldier in the U.S. Army over 20 years ago I had that feeling every day and now I have it again at my new place of work – Cisco.
I began my Cisco career 9 months ago and was assigned to manage two account teams for the pre-eminent police force and fire department in the U.S. It is a charge that my fellow account team members, a diverse and special group of folks from various ethnicities and cultures, and I take very seriously. We band together to use our strengths every day to deliver value to our clients.
I am most proud, however, in how my team shares in being the “heart and pulse” of Cisco. I see this every day in my fellow team mates as we all want to do good, not just for our clients and for Cisco – but also for our communities & country. I’ve learned that the Cisco culture includes a deep shared value in giving back to help others move forward.
About 5 years ago, well before my time at Cisco began, I started volunteering as a lecturer at NPower, a tremendous organization that takes people from backgrounds historically underrepresented in technology (including military veterans, minorities and women) and trains them to obtain technology certifications, which helps them secure internships and full-time tech jobs at top employers.
NPower and Cisco both play a critical role in solving our great country’s technology skills gap.
I was aware that Cisco had long been a sponsor of NPower and that Cisco leadership had served as dedicated and impactful NPower Board Members. Cisco’s dedication to giving back, and how it tied into my passion with NPower, made it even more apparent to me that I had found my corporate “home”. Recently, I had the great privilege of being named to NPower’s National Advisory Council and am humbled to serve in the company of new NPower Board Member and Cisco SVP Guillermo Diaz Jr.
Here are three ways NPower has encouraged me, and shown we have a bright future ahead of us:
1. Introducing Technology to those who may not have thought of this industry as a career option: As a military veteran who loves his country and respects all peoples of various countries of origin, religions, and genders, I believe that we have a vast yet untapped treasure trove of talent in the energetic, bright, and hard-working young men and women who are either alumni or currently attending NPower’s Technology Service Corps. These mostly 20 to 30-year-olds are eager to apply their learned technical skills to add value to prospective business employers and NPower is the bridge connecting them to people and career opportunities in our industry.
2. Diversity in Technology: As an African-American dad of three active kids under the age of 10, my hope is that someday soon my children’s norm may be interviewing across the table where more often than not, interviewers have had more common experiences and bring differing perspectives and appreciation for diversity, especially in the case of my two daughters. By example, at Cisco today, I get to learn from two powerful and capable Cisco leaders who just happen to be female VPs, but it doesn’t stop with senior managers, as Cisco truly takes the best folks and weaves together incredible teams that solve customer problems.
3. Cisco’s Greatest Asset – our teams: My SLED-NYC Region is another example. We are a team of folks of varying hues, religious beliefs, and genders, and we work closely together to create wins for our clients. In fact, on a given weekend I’m touching base with one or two peers just to have non-work, friendly conversations. I believe that on a much larger scale, this is what truly makes not only Cisco great, but our country and gives us the potential to be even better – our common connections and respect for each other.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve interviewed seven competent folks for a slot on my team; during each interview I indicate that it’s no coincidence that Cisco was recently named #6 in the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work.
My hope is that our company continues this trajectory of successfully delivering value to our clients, with an appreciation and respect for our strength through diversity as well as our commitment to paying it forward.
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