As my family and I sat down to watch a recent Cisco Check-In (our bi-weekly, company-wide all hands that started in 2020 to help employees connect, have their questions answered and be heard) – my 18-month old daughter was on my lap. It’s a place she’s often sat this past year as our family, like so many others, had to adjust. The Cisco Check-Ins have become a new, comforting ritual for us as we gather around to find some consistency in our lives.

Christelle's son watching Chuck Robbins present.

I had to smile as my daughter pointed to the screen, where our CEO Chuck Robbins was opening the session, and said in French, “Papa.” Was she referring to the comforting message Chuck was conveying or the warmth and confidence in his voice? Only her developing brain and untainted child’s heart know for sure.

And while she may be calling all the men she sees lately “papa” – I noted that during this Check-In, she only did so with Chuck. I quickly snapped a photo to remember the moment, smiling about the level of connection she had obviously built with Chuck during the past 10 months of her life.

With all our family being overseas, my daughters have become used to see family members on video through our phones and laptops. And, as they do not watch television, they do not see a difference between the Cisco Check-Ins or when we are talking to actual family members. So, to them, our Cisco colleagues – and, yes, even our CEO – are, in a sense, family.

As a Success Programs Manager for Cisco’s Customer Experience team, I have never been more thankful to Cisco or our Executive Leadership Team (ELT) for providing reassuring messages, and moments of full transparency than in these past 12 months. This year was a lot, and Cisco stepped up to lead at every opportunity. During these Check-Ins, guest speakers and medical experts joined our ELT to provide everything from entertainment to information. We discussed social justice, equity and what we can do as a company to power an inclusive future for all.

I have not missed one of our Check-Ins yet, and while I know they helped me – I now see how they helped my two daughters too.

Selfie of Christelle

This year, for us, meant repurposing one of our rooms to become an adequate workplace, where my husband and I could attend our meetings and focus on daily tasks. During the first six months, we decided to work in shifts. I was part of the M&A Integration team during this period, as an Integration Manager. I worked from 6 am to 1 pm and then was taking on my mum duties until 9 pm, often going back to my emails after the girls were asleep. My husband was then working from 1 pm to 11 pm and taking the responsibility of being a teacher, a cook, and a dad until 1 pm. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our respective leaders and teams.

This arrangement lasted until September 2020 when, after much thought, careful consideration and (admittedly) burnout, we decided to send our daughters back to their daycare/preschool – which is also at Cisco! Indeed, one of Cisco benefits available to all employees is that childcare services are provided at several Cisco campuses around the country.

Living near the San Jose campus helps us to leverage the Cisco daycare provider Bright Horizons which reopened its childcare facilities for Cisco employees in July 2020. Prior to that re-opening, Bright Horizons stayed connected with all enrolled families by providing classes and circle-times via Webex, children developmental and educational activities to do at home and parental assistance.

As Black parents and despite the pandemic death toll in the Black community, we felt comfortable sending our girls back to in person caring and learning, knowing everything was being diligently monitored.

As for our family, we will continue our ritual of watching each Cisco Check-In, until we can all safely connect again in person.


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Christelle Mombo-Zigah

Success Programs Manager

Customer Experience (CX)