As a borderline perfectionist, I took pride in going to the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and landing my first job in recruiting before the end of my senior year of college. I decided to stay on that track and have spent the bulk of my career at a company I’m also very proud of—Cisco.

I always felt like I had it together. I was working at a top IT company, recruiting for several sales groups, had received recognitions over the years, volunteered with my team, and helped many people land impactful roles. Sounds pretty close to perfectly planned, right?

What I haven’t mentioned yet are two bundles of joy that don’t always make my perfectionist persona easy. You see, I’m a working mom to two little boys – that are just 10 months apart! YES, you read that right—10 months apart!

Imagine taking four months off for maternity leave only to return and three months later have to tell your manager that you’re expecting again! I was honestly terrified to have that conversation – How would I be perceived? Surely everyone will think I’m crazy. Is this a one way ticket out of the company I love?

I was nervous for something I shouldn’t have worried about – because at Cisco, we’re family.

Instead, I was supported. I was loved. I was able to care for myself with no questions asked. When I returned to work each time, as guilt ridden as most working mothers are, I was able to ease back in. I didn’t have to take on a full work load initially and working remotely was my saving grace for adjusting to my new norm.

I eventually got into a healthy routine and was able to balance being a mother with having a successful career through the support and love from my managers and colleagues. And you know what? Not only did they support me, they encouraged me to CONTINUE my career growth as I recently moved into a lead role with my very own team of recruiters.

The great thing about Cisco is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a new mom still figuring everything out. Our leaders recognize talent and will help foster your growth at whatever stage of life you’re in.

I wasn’t sure what to expect – Will I be able to balance it all? What about those sleepless nights that creep up when you least expect it?  What about those daycare germs the babies bring home? Will I be able to function?

Chuck Robbins, our CEO said it best— “Give your ego a day off!” and my perfectionist mindset took note. I’ve come to live, eat, sleep, and breathe this very concept from Our Principles.

I have learned to give myself grace and I’m thankful for a company that supports my well-being as much as my career growth. Every day doesn’t have to be perfect to be right. There are days, even as a manager, where I have to put my boys first – and at Cisco, not only is that okay – it’s expected.

Recently, my youngest son was diagnosed with a respiratory infection. Imagine dropping everything at work because you realize your son’s breathing is off. The doctor then informs me that he has severe crackling in his chest and back that needs to be treated. We were at the doctor’s office for over an hour before we were sent home with our very own breathing machine to use every four hours.

Fear and concern took over for my son’s health, of course – but not once in those moments did I have to worry about work. I didn’t have to hesitate, and my co-workers all understood. The work pauses, and that’s okay.

“Respect and Care for each Other” is one of Cisco’s core values. I have experienced that first hand.

My manager, my team, even random people that saw me post about my son being sick checked in to see if he was okay. THAT is what gives me life as a working mom. THAT is what motivates me to bring my best whole self to work every day.

There are days when it is really hard to balance it all. One ball in the air is a sick baby, the other ball is a sleep deprived mother, the next ball is a 9AM meeting, so what do I do? I’ve learned to be intentional with my time. I’ve learned to communicate my needs. It’s okay to say I just can’t do it right now and reschedule that meeting. Then there are days where I power through fiercely and realize I CAN be(and AM) a successful working mom. It’s all about balance.

Working at a company like Cisco has taught me that success doesn’t equal perfection and that’s OKAY. Working for a top IT company doesn’t mean anything if you can’t bring your authentic self to work every day. Do you #LoveWhereYouWork ? Steve Jobs said it best, “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.”

But I suspect you won’t look very far when you see what Cisco has to offer.

Want to join a company that supports you (and your family!)? We’re hiring. Apply now.



Janene Baker

Talent Acquisition Manager

Talent Acquisition AMS Sales