If you would have told me, 20 years ago, that the Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP) would change my life – I may not have believed you. But, now, 20 years later, I can tell you that is exactly what happened.
2020 will, no doubt, be remembered for many things – for me, it will also be remembered as the year CSAP celebrated its 20th Anniversary!
I was lucky enough to be a part of the program 15 years ago, during its first EMEAR (Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia) region edition along with 43 other people that joined the program from seven other countries. The program has changed a lot throughout the years, and now there are over 100 associates in 27 countries that participate each year!
After the program, I joined the Cisco Italian organization and for 12 years had the opportunity to be part of our Sales teams in different departments – from Commercial and Service Provider to Distribution and our Partner Organizations. Finally, three years ago, I returned to the Netherlands, now with my family, as a CSAP Manager.
Being a CSAP Manager has given me the opportunity to not only give back to the program that gave so much to me, but I am also able to share my experiences with new associates and alumni alike. And I usually start by telling them that this program is a life-changing experience.
I don’t know if any of them quite understand what I really mean just yet – how the impact of this one year will influence the rest of their careers and lives. But I share with them how, through CSAP, my door to Cisco was opened. I met my wife, had my daughter – who we already consider a tiny Cisconian who loves events likes Bring Your Kids to Work Day and family events like our BBQs or holiday parties – and met so many of my best friends. Those friends are now family to me.
Cisco looks after their employees’ satisfaction; this is relatively well-known. But it is also the perfect inclusive environment to socialize with your colleagues and families. I don’t think it’s by chance that Cisco was recognized as the world’s #1 Best Place to Work.
In 2019, we had our 15th year anniversary reunion , where most of the 44 people who were part of the first edition came together in Amsterdam. They did it despite their busy personal agenda or where they currently worked or where they had to travel from, and they did it because Cisco and CSAP give you a place to belong. This will remain with you forever, no matter where your career path may take you or where you move to. CSAP is a global family, and they are always there for you no matter what.
I strongly believe that companies are made of people, and that no matter the role – we are all human beings first. Cisco not only sees this, not only wants you to grow professionally and personally, but also wants you to propose new ideas and try different approaches.
I have now been at Cisco for 16 years, and while I did not see it coming that first year during CSAP – I am forever grateful to Cisco for changing my life. To be able to still be a part of something that enables me to make a difference for our future is something I am very honored to contribute to.
Happy 20th Year’s Birthday, CSAP!
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