A few weeks ago, you might have read our friend Justin Riray’s blog post “Should You Leave the Company You Love?” His love for his colleagues, Cisco as a company and excitement for his future rang loud and clear through his words and pictures. And, in his message, he mentioned a future story about a “boomerang” employee – or, an employee who leaves and then returns to a company.
It’s me. I’m the boomerang (one of many Cisco boomerangs, by the way).
When the idea for this post came up, I reached out to Justin. I hadn’t caught up with him in some time, so when he got my message on Webex Teams (which gave him a clue that I was in fact back) his priceless reaction was, “OMG YOU’RE THE BOOMERANG?!?!” It had us laughing out loud, along with a multitude of shared emojis, that we’d be connected in this way.
Upon first seeing Justin’s post, one might think, “Why would Cisco talk about employees leaving?” But here’s the thing, at Cisco we know that sometimes employees might benefit from testing new waters in order to grow, and to maybe – one day – come back to the “mother ship” with stronger skills and a fresh lens that comes only from an adventure that is beyond your comfort zone.
This is the story of one Cisco boomerang employee.
The First Catch
I joined Cisco in 2004 after a long stint with a global IT consulting firm. Back then, I knew I wanted to stay close to technology, but yearned to be part of a company that built a product versus the sometimes-transient nature of consulting assignments. A close friend from my childhood had been working at Cisco for many years and made the connection. I started off as part of Cisco’s Technical Assistance Center and then spent the balance of my time as part of Cisco’s Global IT organization.
Simply put, those years were some of the best in my career.
In mid–2016, I remember turning to a colleague at a team picnic and saying, “You know, this might be one of our last ones.” I didn’t know what was next or when a change might happen, but I felt the fire that sustained me for well over a decade starting to flicker out. I tried several different internal assignments that I enjoyed, but soon realized what I truly needed; to take a risk and try a completely new environment. And, so, I left Cisco to spread my wings a bit, excited to join my former boss and many peers in late 2016 as part of another company that was undergoing a complete transformation. While there, I was also able to experience “the other side of Cisco” as a large–scale customer. Whether it was implementing new global data center technology, the collaboration portfolio or ongoing support and operations – Cisco always showed up like no other for their partners. Seeing that dedication from the “other side” was inspiring.
Around this time, I had started following more media on Cisco and was reminded of how they continuously showed up for each other, the industry, and the world at large. Whether it was the numerous, global Great Place to Work awards (along with being named the #1 World’s Best Workplace) to supporting California wildfire relief, raising funds for the homeless, and responding to global events in ways only Cisco can – it always left me energized to see the company and my former colleagues flourishing.
After about three years, I also realized that that fire in me for Cisco was never really extinguished and, in fact, was growing again. But could it reach the same levels? How would it really feel?
The Return Catch
Earlier this year I knew I was going to face yet another transition. I started hearing more about Cisco’s broader transformation – from new products and services, go-to-market models to the charter of Cisco’s continuous focus on people and global teams (that truly makes this the #1 best place to work.) Through a series of great conversations, I was actually able to rejoin my prior organization in Cisco IT – bringing back years of new experiences, and eager to apply that knowledge to a great evolving team.
If you’ve ever actually thrown a real boomerang, you know that it’s not simple! So, here are a few things I’ve learned on this journey.
1. How you leave sets the trajectory of your potential return. I was extremely grateful for the opportunities Cisco provided me and my family in “Part 1.” And before I left, I got this feedback from one of my favorite bosses who said, “People will remember your entire legacy in your last two weeks” – so I led with that mindset. Your reactions, how you respond, and the bridges you build to help you connect will be incredible assets throughout your career – but perhaps no more so than when you leave a company.
2. Stay close to your starting point. What this means is keep the right level of personal and professional connections. Outside of my normal social media interactions and presence, I would make a point of attending special events for my closest colleagues. Many times, in the terminals at the San Francisco International Airport, I would seek (and find!) many Cisco teammates in baggage claim. And I would go to the Faz on Tasman (near Cisco HQ) so often, the hostess thought I never left! All those interactions will help to keep you “top of mind” for when the opportunity might present itself.
3. Keep throwing! It’s rare to catch the return of a boomerang on your first try. I was inquiring about several different roles at Cisco before ultimately rejoining our IT team. So, stay focused on your end goal, even if you take another role in between. It’s worth it!
It’s important to know that when you leave – that doesn’t necessarily close a door forever. Perhaps this is your moment to spread your wings, fly beyond your comfort zone, and test new waters. And, maybe – just maybe – once you’ve gained that experience, you’ll boomerang back to Cisco.
Whether it’s a right fit now, or a right fit in the future, here’s how you’d find opportunities. Apply now.
Read Justin’s Blog: Should You Leave a Company You Love?