I began at Cisco as a contractor, but as soon as I entered the Customer Experience (CX) organization, I knew Cisco was where I wanted to build my career long-term. There’s a magnetic pull that comes from not only our peers but the leaders of this company. It’s just one of the many reasons why Cisco was named the #1 Best Company to Work for in the U.S. in 2023 by Fortune and Great Place to Work – for the third year in a row.
Cisco is also the largest organization I have ever worked for, and something unique I’ve experienced in my almost four years here is Cisco Illuminate — a quarterly, engaging experience connecting employees with relevant people, information, and skills to confidently move forward in the organization.
Whenever Cisco Illuminate is offered, a calendar invite goes out to all Cisco employees to collectively block our calendars and join together in several days of learning, engaging discussions, and, often, internal reflection.
Each session has featured fabulous keynote speakers and roundtable discussions with our executives, uncovering the truths about what it’s like to move around in your career. It has been discussed in detail how careers are not linear, and sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward and how to propel yourself through the art of networking.
When they say it starts at the top, it truly does with Cisco. From executive leadership down and across, the values Cisco executives demonstrate are second to none. And during this past Illuminate cycle, much of the conversation surrounded building your network by reaching up and reaching out across all organizations within the company.
This got me thinking there are other organizations within Cisco, not just CX! So, I set out on my own journey of networking, propelled by our top leaders encouraging us to facilitate new conversations and learn more about other roles and unconventional career paths.
“When you stop looking through your own eyes and look through the eyes of another, the real magic begins to happen.”
— Laercio Albuquerque, VP Theatre Lead, LatAm
I also applied to be part of the Executive Shadowing Program, which matches our executive leaders to employees at various levels for career growth, learning, and exploration.
I was chosen for the program. But that’s not the amazing part. The amazing part is that 500 people were selected for the program because 500 executives signed up to sponsor a Cisco individual! My executive connection is with Laercio Albuquerque, VP Theatre Lead LatAm, whose quote you saw above.
As a part of the Executive Shadowing Program, I had the opportunity to attend several of his large team meetings, where he had the team speak English since I am not bilingual in Spanish. This gave me the opportunity to feel the warmth of his team and really watch his leadership style. Even better, the LatAm sales team had a booth at Cisco Live 2023, and I was extremely fortunate to meet formally with Laercio. His many kind words while we were together left me feeling inner power and control over my career. And when I saw him around the conference informally, his smile was always infectious, letting me know someone cared about my well-being.
But it doesn’t end there. Because of Illuminate, I began reaching up and reaching out to learn more about the organizations that I think would be a great fit for me as I move forward in my career, and I wasn’t shy about reaching for the stars. My requests were sent out to the executive administrators of Cisco Vice Presidents and Senior Directors. Within days, sometimes hours, I received a response and a calendar invite to meet with these leaders 1:1 for a half hour.
The conversations I have had so far have been incredible. I have been so impressed with how the executives within Cisco are “people” first. Their titles never set the tone of the conversations or dictate the flow. Within a short time, my new connections and I have related to one another on a personal level. We have talked about our kids, who happen to be the same ages, the struggles of parenting, how we feel about the world post-pandemic, and even met each other’s cats virtually as they sat on our laps during our calls. I’ve been able to share my aspirations with individuals who genuinely listen and want to promote my career growth. After each call, I have always received a recommendation for someone else I should reach out to, and it’s an ever-growing vine of connections that I have begun to weave. The best part is that we are encouraged to network. We are encouraged to reach out with no fear of judgment from our current management because, at the end of the day, they want what is best for us, too!
Because of these opportunities, I have never been more confident in my future at Cisco. I don’t think I’ll ever have a final destination in mind, but I do know that Cisco is one company with many career options. Through the networking and connections I have made, I know that I have a large network of people invested in my success, executives included! Never stop growing, never stop learning, and never let your fear of rank scare you into not having a conversation. Our executives are like us; they have families, friends, hobbies, and pets! At our core, we, as humans, crave interaction. Reach up and reach out. There are plenty of great people waiting to meet you!
Are you ready to meet our great people? Find an opportunity now!