When living in RTP, it’s impossible to not be aware of who the top companies are in the area. I always had my eye on Cisco as “The One” for me and I was lucky enough to have several previous colleagues, who now work for Cisco, to educate me on what Cisco was all about. Each time I would speak to someone about the culture that Cisco cultivates and all the benefits that come with working there, my desire to work for Cisco continued to grow.
In November of 2019, I joined Cisco as a Collaboration Customer Success Manager supporting Webex global enterprise east accounts. I had finally joined the company I always had my eye on, but I didn’t know then just how life-changing taking this role would truly be.
My ramp-up time in my new role was significantly shortened with the start of the pandemic and, with it, the skyrocketing demand for Webex support. With all the external stress the world had to offer during this time, I never felt that same stress at work. Leadership always checked on our workloads, stress levels, and mental health, and we had everything we needed to succeed while ensuring a proper balance between work and home life. This was eye-opening for me as I had never experienced this level of support in a workplace. Because of this culture, I was fully charged for each day. I took part in and supported some of the largest events on Webex, including the NFL Draft, high-profile government meetings, and multiple events where top Fortune 500 executives across the country strategized how to tackle the challenges around COVID.
2021 started as any other “normal” COVID year for my family. It was filled with masking up, virtual schooling twin kindergartners, and keeping our social bubble small. Due to the pandemic and Cisco’s stance on hybrid work, I became a full-time remote worker. This allowed my wife and I the opportunity to move back to her hometown, where her mother still lives. It took a little bit to convince my wife that we should make the move, but there was a gentle tug on my heart leading me there, so I was persistent. Two weeks after moving, amidst unpacking boxes, my extremely healthy mother-in-law was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I immediately realized that our moving there to be closer to her was divine intervention at its finest.
She completed five cycles of chemotherapy and was fortunate enough to be a candidate for a stem cell transplant in the fall. While she was still learning to live with the new lifestyle of frequent blood draws, bone marrow biopsies, and maintenance chemo, our family was hopeful for a long future with her. Ironically enough, my wife is a nurse who used to work in the emergency department, and her sister is a nurse who used to work in bone marrow transplants. Both have now shifted their focus and currently work as nurses in research.
As 2021 continued, I picked up running as it felt like the perfect thing to be active while also social distancing. I started thinking about setting some goals and looked into the Boston Marathon, a pinnacle race in a city I love. During some late-night internet browsing, I discovered the marathon’s fundraising component that would allow me to run while also raising funds for a charity. With such a connection to multiple myeloma (MM), I found the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) very intriguing. The significant impact an organization such as MMRF can have in helping identify new treatments is astonishing. Because of this, we may one day have a cure for MM. This made MMRF the obvious choice as my selected charity for fundraising efforts.
While I was confident I could raise the money, I was wonderfully surprised by the overwhelming support from my Cisco family in my fundraising efforts and in their supporting my ambitions to run the Boston Marathon. My Cisco community donated $3,200 and through Cisco’s Bright Funds 1:1 donation matching program, that grew to $6,400 in total from Cisco alone! Because of this, I was able to raise a total of nearly $13,000 in prep for the marathon.
Just as their generous donations had blown me away, so did my Cisco team’s support during the marathon. They set up a tracker system in our Webex group space to follow along, and the words of encouragement I saw after the race were overwhelming.
Fast forward to October 2022 to find out that my mother-in-law, Linda, is officially in REMISSION! While she will still require medication to keep MM at bay, this was amazing news. Our family is so very grateful for all the wonderful future memories we will get to make with her. In celebration, I am happy to continue my running and fundraising journey by joining the MMRF team running the London Marathon on April 23, 2023. My whole family, including my mother-in-law, will be there along the course. I know that with the support of my Cisco family and community, I have every opportunity to successfully meet my fundraising goal of $50,000 for the MMRF while running each of the six major marathons.
To accomplish this goal while still being successful in my career is a dream come true! I never thought I would have such an amazing work-life balance, but truly anything can be achieved with Cisco’s second-to-none support of its employees.
Over the years, Cisco has gone from the company I aspired to work for to the company I want to stay with long-term. Now I’m the one telling non-Cisconians what this company is all about. I get told, “I am drinking the Cisco Kool-Aid.” And my response to this is always the same—you are right! I am. It’s given me opportunities and changed my family’s life.
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