When I reflect on my first year at Cisco, I realized that the moments that made it so special were the ones where I became more involved in our company and culture – beyond just my job description.
I quickly learnt that, at Cisco, your role is not a restriction. Dynamic teams and initiatives are highly encouraged throughout the company and Cisco understands that if everyone stayed in their lane, we wouldn’t have half the fun and innovation.
Here are three moments where I experienced growth over the past 12 months:
1. Cisco’s Stretch Assignment Initiative – Cisco has an internal site for “spare-time” professional commitments where you can volunteer some of your time to another team for six months. It’s a chance for employees to explore a different job or passion in which they have an interest. Plus, it breaks the cycle of needing experience to get experience.
For me, that was Social Media Marketing. I mean – I’ve used every type of social media throughout my life as a consumer. Yet, I hadn’t had a chance to understand Marketing as a business principle and that intrigued me. I applied to complete a “stretch” with our Employee/Employer Brand Team where I would be able to learn this skill and apply what I had learned in creating content and social posts for the team.
The Stretch Assignment allowed me to engage with so many new connections around the world and I am grateful to have been able to sample another profession within Cisco. Taking a look under the bonnet at what actually goes into another part of the business gave me a whole new perspective on my own work, too!
2. When you do something you love – it doesn’t feel like work. It may be a cliché, but it’s true. Taking on more work may not sound like fun, but there are also many non-professional opportunities to be seized at Cisco! And when you’re constantly growing, focusing on your passions, and giving back – that “extra work” feels a lot more like fun.
One of the biggest parts of Cisco’s culture is our annual volunteer hours. It’s a true gift, where Cisco pays employees 40 hours each year to volunteer to a cause they’re most passionate about.
While some colleagues may volunteer directly for a charity, a few of us used our days to mentor young people in the Manchester area who were interested in careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). But it needn’t be so close to home – previously (when it was safer to travel) teams mobilised and volunteered with projects located abroad in Brazil, Costa Rica and Calais!
I love that our volunteer hours are really open to interpretation on how we feel we can make the best impact within our communities and the world.
3. Creativity and going the extra mile are valued qualities – and we depend on those employees with innovative, new ideas to help us think outside the box.
Being fresh in the business last year – along with my colleague, Chloe – we were asked if we could provide a new-take on our office Christmas party. We had never held an event like this before, nor knew many people in our local office to really get our ideas off the ground. Yet, the process brought us into contact with kind people at Cisco who were happy to support us. We hosted our party in a quirky tent in Manchester City Centre, it was unusual to say the least, and luckily very well-heated, but having been asked for a contemporary angle – we delivered!
We had a great turn out and it was such a fun evening, and a privilege to be entrusted with the event, despite being a newcomer to the team.
There’s a lot more going on around me too. Twelve months has just not been enough time to uncover everything that there is to offer within Cisco’s global community.
Here are some other things you could get involved with:
- Every year Cisco runs an “Innovate Everywhere Challenge”, where employees can work on the next big social, technological or business breakthrough.
- Time Swap and Job Swap. Exchange tasks or even whole roles with another colleague on a temporary basis! It’s a brave initiative, creating a more agile Cisco. Plus, you can properly try a role out to see of it could be right for you!
- Sit on a committee for a programme or event. Are you passionate about diversity in the industry? Have new ideas for customer, partner or employee events? Cisco needs cross-discipline groups with diverse backgrounds to formulate and execute new thoughts.
- Anything and everything for good causes. While you only have 40 volunteer hours, there is nothing to stop you from donating your own time or money to more charity work – Cisco will match your donations! Plus, your global employee community is an amazing platform on which to raise awareness.
If you have an idea that doesn’t exist yet – you could always start it up yourself. Being proactive and chasing after your dreams and ideas will be rewarded here. Cisco is a safe place, and no-one will knock you back if you want to try something new!
Just as Cisco’s technological innovations have helped establish the incredible digitally connected world we live in, these opportunities within the organisation shows that Cisco is not only a disruptive and important inventor but also a pioneering and thought leading employer.
I’m so fortunate to have had these opportunities all within the first year! It’s sometimes been a challenge to juggle different projects, yet an amazing way to learn, experiment and grow. Overall, I consider it an honour to be able to participate so diversely and expand my experience in so many different ways.
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Amazing Milly! You rock!
Great article and I have shared it!
Great article and I have shared it!
Great article Milly. Been great having you in the team! The Manchester Christmas event was amazing! Well done!
Great article Milly! You are a STAR!!!
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