Katy sitting on couch with laptop. Interviews are two-way streets, with both the company and the candidate trying to determine if it is a good fit. More than ever, recent world events have made me increasingly aware of how important it is that the company fits the candidate. The way a company behaves, the policies they enact, their messaging, and most importantly, their actions can have an immense impact on one’s life.  

And I’m proud to know that I found my fit at Cisco. 

When the world changed nearly overnight, Cisco sent 75,000 employees home to work safely – and (thanks in large part to Cisco tech and our amazing culture) we did it incredibly well, too. Members of leadership were transparent in their thought process and their plans and supported us both logistically and emotionally during weekly check-ins. A budget was provided for supplies to make our home offices more productive and comfortable, and they communicated that if you fell ill or had to take care of a loved one, there would be a new type of protected leave available. When there was still uncertainty around the world, they made a longer-term call to put health and safety first, which helped many settle in for the long haul.  

Information sessions were also held on being effective virtually as many of us were used to doing at least a portion of our job in person with a customer. And, most important for me was the awareness and messaging from our leadership that schools and daycares were not available, and even when they became available, parents may still decide to keep their children at home. There was understanding that people would not be glued to their computers from 9-5, and that they had other needs pulling at them – for me, that was my son, who was 6 months old. 

The compassion and flexibility I felt as a parent with a child at home, especially my first and a young one at that, is only one of the ways Cisco supported our mental well-being during this time. All levels of leadership often began their meetings by checking in on the team members and prioritized how everyone was doing. I especially loved seeing children and animals pop into the screen, a reminder that we were all figuring this out together – it also made me feel better when these moments happened to me.  

Our leadership led by example, too. As we met with our executives through Cisco TV in their home offices, with their kids and their pets and their favorite go-to snack, we increasingly felt like we were more connected with them, as they were clearly human too. (We felt this way before, but this volume of transparency is new and we love it, and we never want to go back.) 

We received consistent messaging to take breaks, go outside, turn off the computer, step away from the webcam, and use our PTO. We were given “A Day for Me” – we’ve had three now – where the purpose is to shut down and do something just for us on those days. My business unit even hosted therapists who gave tips and answered questions about adjusting to this new life and increased the frequency of our mindfulness sessions.  

Kate and her family

The support was also there from peers, not just leadership.  

I’ve always known I work with wonderful people, and it was so great to see the support and encouragement from the variety of groups I was a part of, be it Parents and Families, Women and Allies, or our Financial Advice group. Our community doesn’t just exist because we were in proximity in the workplace, we grew even stronger when dealing with a crisis together. 

Shortly after we began working from home, another once in a lifetime set of events began to unfold, this time addressing racial injustices. And, again, Cisco reacted in ways that I didn’t even know were possible from a company. They challenged us individually to take action, to have difficult conversations, and to speak out for those who are treated unfairly. Speakers were brought in to help us understand different perspectives, to motivate us, and to foster compassion. 

And Cisco put their money where their mouth is: $5 million was donated to a variety of local and global charities working to better the world for all. Donations were also matched by both Cisco and Duo, tripling the value of money individuals put forth, and we were encouraged to be politically active and stand up for our beliefs.  

So how did Cisco change my career trajectory? They changed my outlook on what a company can be and should be.  

I learned that companies can be guided by morals and ethics and not just finances. Now, I’ll never be able to go back to a job where I’m looked at as a body in a chair, where showing up and appearance is a priority, where I’m a number or an ‘employee’ instead of a person. I now know that a company can understand the multiple pulls on my life and my time, and that I can still do good work for them while prioritizing my family and our health and well-being. 

They showed me that companies can value their employees as humans AND react to the world around them in an ethical and responsible way. Because of this – I have forever been changed by Cisco. 


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Kate Pydyn

Customer Success Manager