In the Customer Experience (CX) Strategy & Portfolio Team, our foundational belief is that what we do at Cisco is important, but that it should never overshadow the value of who we are as people.

This belief has even inspired a team tradition! 

At each team meeting, we give new team members the floor and for a few minutes, they have the chance to share the three things they value most in their lives. Through this tradition, we celebrate diversity within our team. When we connect with each person as an individual, with values that may be different or similar from ours, we build trust that becomes the foundation of deeper relationships – and we think that has helped us to become a top team at Cisco!

But we take it a step further, too! After we learn what our teammates are passionate about, we all have a chance to take action, and encourage each other to give back in a ways that align with the values shared.

Giving back is a guiding principle of Cisco, and of course, the CX Strategy & Portfolio Team. We have biannual team volunteer events that allow us to give back as a team, and additionally, our team uses Cisco’s Time2Give initiative (the 40 hours every year Cisco provides us to give back to our communities) to focus on individual values-driven volunteering.

Here’s a peek at some of the unique ways the CX Strategy & Portfolio team members are serving our communities, and the values that inspired our focus in giving back:

1.Value – Community: Karen Spicer, our team administrator, shows her passion for “community” through her heartfelt service at the Valley Medical Center Burn Unit in San Jose. In the 12 years she’s volunteered with the burn survivor community, she estimates her Cisco Valentine’s Day Bake Sales have raised over $100,000! These funds have gone on to become gifts for the children being treating at the burn unit and have helped families of burn survivors facing the ongoing costs of medical care.

2.Value – Leading the way from Poverty to Self-Sufficiency: Dan McQuade, Senior Director who leads Inorganic Growth and Market Intelligence, wanted to help people in his local community, which inspired him to give back with the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. Operating under their motto, “providing a hand up, not a hand out,” this organization assists a diverse group of people on their journey out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. Dan has been volunteering for the past 20 years, and together with his wife Karen, they lead fundraising efforts which have raised close to a million dollars! These funds have gone on to support the need for job skills training, counseling, grandparent caregiver support, and many other programs that benefit local Santa Clara County families.

3.Value – Family & Health: Priti Agarwal brings so much to our team as a Market Intelligence Senior Manager, but like many of us, she also has a full life outside of work. Among her top values are family and health, and these values led her to a four-day meditation course conducted by the Isha Foundation that focused on developing inner wellbeing and personal growth.

Here Priti saw first-hand the benefits of the program’s “technology for wellbeing” and it has helped her achieve further excellence and fulfillment in both her professional and personal life. But she didn’t stop there! Priti utilized her Time2Give hours so that she could volunteer and enable others to attend the same four-day intensive program that has inspired her. She plans to continue to give back in this way to help bring fulfillment to others.

4.Value – Kindness: Rajat Mishra, VP CX Strategy & Portfolio, values kindness, or, helping others without expecting anything in return. Near his hometown in India, he works with the Adruta Children’s Home where Rajat advises and raises funds to support the children living in the home. Today, Adruta supports over 400 children.

With the help from Cisco colleagues, Rajat raised nearly $30,000 through his “Quadruple Your Donation” Be the Bridge campaign. These funds will support 24 children for an entire year. Rajat’s personal mission is to help them grow to 1,000 children and we think if anyone can do it – it’s Rajat!

5.Value – Harmony: As for me, I’m thankful that my team has encouraged me to give back in a way that aligns with my values. You can see that I value “harmony” – or the peaceful coming together of opposing elements for a common purpose. Cisco’s Time2Give initiative allows me to find harmony in my own life as I balance a demanding career with my family and my desire to give back.

Because of the hours we have to give back, I’ve been able to devote volunteer time to my kids’ school. I’ve also been able to serve as an executive board member of the PTA where I help by working on the Site Council to develop and monitor the school’s student achievement goals. Regularly, I volunteer in their classrooms and their annual field day event which enables me to be an even bigger presence in their lives.

It’s rare to find a workplace where you feel connected to the work you do, the communities you help, and to the people you work alongside. I’m grateful that Cisco has become a place of connection and purpose for me, and that it also transcends to the values-driven members of the Customer Experience Strategy Team.

What values are you driving today?


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Maia Marken

Director, Chief of Staff

Strategy, Planning and Insights