“You can’t ever quit Cisco because then you would lose all those cool friends” – Edward J. Fontaine, age 8

It has always been extremely important to me that my son sees the work I do. That he knows while Daddy works hard, so too does Mommy. It is one of the main reasons I jump at any chance to bring Edward into the Cisco offices so that he can see what I do every day while he’s at school and how that enables us to procure life’s necessities (and it’s indulgences!). One such occasion pops up each year, “Bring Your Child to Work Day” (which is today!)

Last year, at around this time, it was an exciting day in our household as Edward knew he’d get to go to a “big business place” in downtown San Francisco with Mommy. When the day arrived, one of us got up early, dressed in their very best, and was ready and waiting by the door with their bag right on time – waiting for the very second we could call the Uber to come get us. And that person wasn’t me! 🙂 Even the idea of riding through traffic excited Edward, and as we called the Uber Black (to make the day a little more special) you could tell he was ready for the adventure ahead.

On the way, Edward asked about what kind of people he would meet, and if anyone would ask him hard questions about technology or business. I smiled and promised him a stress-free day. He bounced out of the car and strutted with his head held high into the Cisco lobby. We checked him in and headed up to the 13th floor (which he, of course, reminded me was a very unlucky number!).

From the very start, he reminded me of so many thing we adults take for granted on any given work day. I noted another such instance as he got a kick out of the TV playing in the elevator, and thanked him for reminding me to acknowledge that – yes, it was very cool for a TV to be playing in the elevator!

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The doors opened, and we were greeted with the office bustling with the sounds of little voices. (A welcome change, I thought!) There were plenty of activities planned for the children, but the most anticipated was playing with the Spark Board and doing a telepresence conference with the kids in Cisco’s St. Louis office!

In between a few of the events planned just for the Cisconian Kids, I had to have a meeting or two which Edward gladly joined. He had his laptop with him, set up ready to take the meeting, but remained a quiet audience member while Mommy white boarded with some colleagues.

After the session, I asked if everyone understood what I had just gone over. A few heads nodded, and then a little voice piped up from the back, “I don’t get it”. We had a good little laugh, as I promised to explain it all to him when we got home.

What do I do at Cisco? Well, I sell Services in the Enterprise space. Explaining a Services role to an 8-year-old is not an easy task because it’s not a “thing” that you can see or touch. It’s not a router or a server…it’s not something that gets shipped and arrives on your doorstep. Explaining that, “Mommy sells an ‘outcome’.” is tough to understand for some adults, let alone the wide eyed boy asking the question.

But with its difficulty also comes the fun and the challenge, and that’s why I fully embrace this amazing role at Cisco. Through the hardships and ambiguity of what we Client Service Managers and Executives do, there are always the “aha!” moments when colleagues and customers understand what we provide. It’s those moments where you’re rewarded with one of the best feelings ever, and I loved that Edward got to see this first hand.

When it came time to head home that day, unlike his Mom, Edward was NOT ready to leave the office. And it was here that he asked that I “never quit” Cisco. I promised him that I would consider his ask very carefully. 🙂 A smile crossed Edward’s face, a day successfully completed, we made our way back home.  Now, Edward wants to tour our other Bay Area offices: Pleasanton in the East Bay, and the big mother ship – our headquarters in San Jose.

As we looked forward to 2018’s Bring Your Kid to Work day, I knew I wanted to help spearhead the kids’ activities and make sure other “future Cisconians” got a chance to see all the cool things their parents do every day. It’s not only important for them to see how hard we work, and the cool technologies we work on and help support – but, every now and then, we all need a reminder that maybe, just maybe, we ARE changing the world…at least for the young people that live with us and are looking to be just like Mommy and Daddy someday.


Erin Fontaine

Client Services Executive

Enterprise West (Oceanside Operation)