Mike posing with wife I remember my first day at Cisco like it was yesterday. Then, five years passed. Then 10, 20, 22 … and somehow, I’ve spent half my life here at Cisco, and looking back at where I started and how much I’ve experienced, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Day 1

It was July 5th, 2000. The weather was sunny, I had my best polo on, and for some reason, the air seemed crisp, like right after a good rain—though it doesn’t rain much in California, but you get the idea. I was excited, pumped, and ready for anything thrown at me.

The Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP) was new for Cisco, and there were 109 of us in this first official cohort. I looked around and saw the most diverse group of people and thought how amazing it was that I was amongst them. Some were engineers, others geology majors, some were married with kids, while some weren’t. While we were all different, we shared a common culture. Did I just score the best job or what?

Year 10

When I hang out with my friends, they say, “Wow, 10 years! That’s great. I’m at my third company already. Why are you still there?” My answer is, “The culture.” There’s a diversity of thought, encouragement to lean into new ideas, the ability to challenge people no matter their title, and respect that we all give each other. Everyone at Cisco shares these common principles, and there’s a “we” mentality here.

Most of the people I started with in CSAP back in 2000 are still at Cisco—It’s just amazing!

Time has passed. I’ve changed, grown, experienced a lot, and am now in my fourth role at Cisco, with some promotions along the way. ? The possibilities for growth and evolution here are endless, as long as you have passion. Cisco provides people support and continued online and in-person education—all free of charge—and I’ve had mentors and sponsors who helped build me to this level every step of the way.

I’m now a first-line engineering sales leader, supporting around seven sales engineers who then support about 20 of our large enterprise accounts.

Year 20

“Mike, are you telling me you’re still working at Cisco after 20 years?” one of my best friends asks. I laugh and tell them the culture has kept me here.

You see, this job isn’t just a job. It’s something I’m excited about, passionate about, and excited to do each and every day. Each conversation I have, email I send, and interaction I make go over the most secure and powerful infrastructure in the world. When I tell people this, it gives me goosebumps. I can see the global impact and difference we make with our customers.

I’m now a third-line engineering sales leader and have supported people both locally and globally. People I’ve mentored have achieved greatness, and I’m sponsoring and coaching others on their paths to it.

Year 22

older man holding baby

Cisco and Cisconians have been there for me for all my life’s crazy journey. Having access to Cisco’s unmatched family benefits has made my life complete. I married my beautiful wife, Dana, and we navigated financially and legally through IVF and surrogacy to welcome our son, Lorenzo, who we love so much, into our world. Most recently, my mom had a nurse in my parents’ home to care for my dad and support her during the last days of my dad’s amazing 92-year-long life. (Sento tanto la tua mancanza!) We have peace of mind knowing that even in a large company, my family and I feel like we and our needs matter every day.

Now, I am in my 4th year as the Director of Engineering Sales for Enterprise West, and this marks 50% of my human life spent working at Cisco (I guess I can’t keep my age a secret any longer ?). The energy is the same on day 8,133 as it was on day one.

Many of my closest friends are still at Cisco, and when we do meetups for dinner and drinks, it’s much bigger since we all have families now. I’ve formed some of the strongest friendships and lifelong bonds here over the last 22 years.

And if someone asks why I’m still here? It’s the culture. This company gives me purpose, it gives me strength, it provides for my family. Cisco isn’t just any company. I can only hope to stay here until I retire and write another blog post to say, “This is the ONLY company I have worked for, and I am proud of it!”


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Mike Colao

Director Engineering Sales

Global Enterprise