The world is navigating something unprecedented. It’s a time when strong leadership has never been more important. This week was a personal moment for me when I realized my “big boss” – Cisco’s CEO Chuck Robbins – was going above and beyond the call of duty, something even recognized by my 10-year-old son, Azaan.
Azaan has a real-time view of both his parent’s careers. I have an engineering background and his mother works in the medical field. He has seen me work remotely for years, and we even have a routine when I’m on meetings. He has seen his mother helping sick patients, day in and day out, and sees what kind of humane service she is providing.
Yet, it’s really Chuck Robbins who helped Azaan make a career decision for his future at such a young age.
Recently, Cisco’s leadership team, including Chuck and medical experts, have held weekly all-hands sessions. The panel answers concerns, provides helpful information, and explains what Cisco is doing to keep employees, customers, and partners safe and productive.
I was watching the all-hands on my tablet at my dining room table while my son was sitting next to me. When Chuck came on the video, I explained that he is our “Big Boss.” Azaan watched silently the whole time as Chuck was speaking, in particular during a moment where Chuck was commenting about working from home, and how the homeless population is quite vulnerable.
Azaan heard almost the entire meeting. Afterwards, we shared this conversation:
Azaan: So, Baba, that was your big boss right?
Me: Yes Azaan, he is my boss’s boss’s boss. He makes the final decision on everything in the company.
Azaan: He must be really busy with all those decisions, right?
Me: Yes, Azaan of course he is, he looks out for everything worldwide, he meets all the leaders. He is a very busy man.
Azaan: So, you are telling me he took all this time out from those important meetings to keep you updated?
Me: Of course, he did Azaan, we are important to him.
Azaan: Yes, I can see that when he was explaining about pay (for contract workers) and working from home. If I become an engineer, would I be able to work for him?
Me: Of course, if you work hard and become a good engineer – yes, why not?
(My son then walked into the other room where his mother was.)
Azaan: Mom, I have decided I will be engineer. I want to work for baba’s boss, he is really a good guy!
The fact that the panel included amazing doctors and relevant staff – yet, my son pinpointed Chuck through it all – amazed me. As they say, “With great power comes great responsibility.” – even a child of 10 can see this.
We are lucky to be living in a time where important decisions and their respective executions can be done from the comfort and safety of one’s home. Although we are dealing with issues almost no generation has seen recently, we have options we have never had before.
I was moved by the incident so much that minutes after finishing the meeting and conversation with Azaan – I shared it with Chuck. He not only read it but replied to Azaan directly and encouraged him to pursue his career selection! He also invited him to come and meet him in his office, once it was safe to do so.
There is a reason Cisco was named #1 World’s Best Workplace, and in times where we need true leadership most – this moment is high on my list.
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