I love technology but I have always wanted to do more for the world. At Cisco, I have learned that we are more than just cybersecurity specialists – we’re people first. That means sometimes we need to step away from the day to day to focus on other priorities that impact our personal lives, friends and family, and our communities.

When the world shifted in 2020 – which was then followed by social and racial unrest in the United States – Cisco knew that we would need guidance and support unlike any other year before it. This company has given me a platform to do more, while not only proving themselves as leaders in technology and in changing the world, but also in tackling the challenges our world now faces.

This change started in having conversations with each other – first through Cisco’s Check-In calls hosted by our Executive Leadership Team – then among my team. It felt like Cisco and my team were on the same page, and that racial injustice was an important issue we all wanted to help fight against.

Mia Farinot and I have known each other for years, but until recently we had never spoken to each other about race and how it impacted her in the workplace. As a manager it was difficult to navigate this situation, but for Mia, an individual closely affected by the violence going on across her communities, it was apparent how much harder this was for her.

Mia confided in me, “I’ve never had the opportunity or platform to talk about being Black at work, and as a result, I’ve always felt like I have to pretend it doesn’t exist and deny that part of myself just to blend in with my colleagues who don’t look like me.” I was shocked and knew we had to do even more together as a team during this.

Over the course of the next few weeks we had several conversations as a team about what was happening in our communities and how we would address it. The team was unanimous in their opinion – the violence and racial injustices occurring were terrible and we wanted to do more to educate ourselves and give back. We were happy to see Cisco supporting this effort as well, giving multiple forums for individuals to express themselves.

Our team also found our own outlet to connect by way of a virtual book club. Our virtual book club started as a way for us to stay connected as we transitioned to remote work earlier in the year. We’d read a book a month, and then discuss it over a few drinks after work on Webex. After the conversations around racial injustice began to grow, the team ended up nominating several books to better educate ourselves on the topic at hand. One of these books was Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King Jr.

Team on Webex reading MLK novel "Why We Can't Wait."

Tackling social injustice issues as a team was quite a different motion than our typical busy days supporting our largest partners with their cybersecurity opportunities. It felt refreshing to take a step back and think about how within our day to day we could make an impact on what was going on in the world. We chose to educate ourselves and use our voices and our own interactions with the partner community and customers to ensure we were creating a culture of zero tolerance in regard to racism.

I never thought I would be able to say that I was helping the world through unprecedented times and actively fighting against social injustices in my line of work – but that’s exactly what my team had come together to do over the course of 2020 (and into this new year). When businesses struggled and had to transition to working from home in the early parts of 2020, we were busy helping these organizations move into a secure remote work environment. When our communities were put in a position to elevate Black voices, we made sure we were there with them as a team and as Cisco.

As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper.” I am so proud that Cisco and my team are a strong, firm voice in the change we wish to see.

My biggest piece of advice if you are interested in coming to Cisco is – apply! You don’t need to have a background in Computer Science or Engineering to work at Cisco in Security – while, of course these things help, there is so much more to our teams and what we look for in future Cisconians. If you have the appetite to learn, want to be a part of a great organization that supports giving back to the community, and are ready to tackle challenges together – Cisco is a great place for you!


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