What are some “Nice to have” options for your work environment? A great office – perhaps, flexible hours and plenty of career opportunities.

Elke's VIP All Access Pass at the NASA Space Center in Houston.

Now think of what is on your “Non-negotiable” list. For me, that’s a supporting manager, competitive benefits and making a difference.

And I’m not the only one. 64% of Millennials won’t take a job if the business doesn’t have strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices!

In my twenties, I visited the United States after finishing my degree in English. I knew I wanted to write – but about what? Where? For whom? The stars didn’t align until I visited NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and took their half-day VIP tour.

It was priceless! Limited to just 12 people, the tour must be reserved six weeks in advance. My travel companion and I nonchalantly called up the day before and, low and behold, got a hold of two tickets by sheer luck.

We explored the historic mission control room where all the Apollo flights were handled and were able to get so close to the desks that every gauge, dial, and control left us inspired. Next door was the International Space Station’s (ISS) mission control room, where we able to speak with the ISS flight controller – who is responsible for the billion-dollar station orbiting earth, and the lives of all astronauts on-board. We even saw astronauts at work in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab – the massive pool NASA uses to train astronauts to work in a weightless environment.

As we drove away from the Johnson Space Center towards the coast of Texas and turned onto the road that would take us to New Orleans, my friend and I both voiced that we had had a light bulb moment. What we really wanted to do, was work across borders, at the forefront of technology and make a difference. NASA preferably – but unfortunately, they were not looking for a Corporate Communications manager at the time (nor did I imagine they’d hire me!). However, the notion of working for an employer that changes the world with their technology stuck with me for years, especially when I decided to move to Singapore and interviewed for my job at Cisco.

The mission control room at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

When news broke of how Cisco is collaborating with NASA and connecting astronauts and team members for the anniversary of Apollo 11, something triggered – it was as if all these moments came full circle for me. Perhaps I can’t say that I fully achieved what I set out to do in 2011 since I am not working for a space agency – but I have done other, more valuable things.

This made me immensely proud to work for Cisco – a company, like NASA, that innovates not just for its own success, but to make a positive impact on the people and planet.

From my perspective, this is not a nice-to-have.

We are lucky that advanced technology makes information and connectivity available to more people globally than ever before – but many communities still struggle with the basics. I wouldn’t want to work for a company that glosses over these issues, in sole pursuit of its own revenues.

Elke smiling next to a space ship.

There are hundreds of examples of how Cisco makes the world a better place, but here are a few:

  1. In the Asia Pacific, Japan and China region, Cisco invests in upskilling millions of young students via our Networking Academy.
  2. Cisco employees also volunteered a stunning 424,000 hours last year, for thousands of causes! Cisco even provides 5 days every year for its employees to give back, this is aside from our regular paid time off. I spent my hours helping out at a fundraising effort for the Singapore Committee for UN women, and I loved participating in the communal food packing events at our Singapore office.
  3. How else is Cisco helping? We have a Fake News Challenge, whereby we developed an AI algorithm that evaluates news stories and identifies misleading articles. And on a smaller scale, 40% of our Bangalore campus is powered by the sun!

Just this week my 6-year-old daughter, born the year after I visited Houston, asked to go to space camp over the summer. “But Mom, I want a camp whereby we actually go to outer space.” – as opposed to those boring ‘regular’ space camps whereby you build rockets and learn about suns and planets, apparently.

My dreams are big, but fortunately hers are bigger.


Want to change the world with us? We’re hiring. Apply now.

Learn more about Cisco’s CSR policy and how Cisco make a difference in the world.



Elke Boogert

Editor in Chief, APJC Newsroom

APJC Marketing & Communications