Sometimes the biggest impact comes from the simplest, sweetest offer. How does one become Chief Stroopwafel Officer at Cisco? For me, it was a position I already owned.
My mentors have always taught me that my personal brand is important, so that when people see me and meet me – they will have something to remember me by. Yes, people at Cisco know me as a Systems Engineer working on technologies such as Identity Services Engine (ISE), Software Defined Access (SDA) and IPv6 – the Internet Protocol that was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to deal with the long-anticipated problem of IPv4 address exhaustion. But I did notice that this doesn’t necessarily elicit too much excitement when I enter a room, or necessarily help me to stand out amongst the extremely talented engineers here at Cisco!
Initially, I began to wonder how I could make a meaningful impact. I wondered how our executives remember people, as they see and meet many people on a daily basis – remembering just one name must be such a challenge for them. How could I stand out and possibly brand myself? For some, perhaps it’s a signature bow tie or hair color.
For me, it became the Stroopwafel.
The Sugar Rush Candy handout started around April 2010 when Ross Fowler was still leading the World Wide Borderless Networks team during the SEVT, and I gave him my very first Stroopwafel. A Stroopwafel literally translates to “syrup waffle” and is a waffle made of two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel syrup filling in the middle. They were first made in the city of Gouda, and are popular in and outside the Netherlands (where I’m from).
The simple offering of a Stroopwafel worked like a charm. The next day when Ross saw me, he was still in awe and explained to me in great detail how delicious the Stroopwafel was. This incredible waffle treat was an ice-breaker – and it opened the door for me on technical matters that I wanted to discuss with Ross too.
But, the Stroopwafel didn’t remain an exclusive treat for our Cisco executives – oh no! As a true extrovert, I love meeting people throughout Cisco and all over the globe. Bringing my happy spirit and excitement to work each day is a given, but now I also bring Stroopwafels on my travels for those who I may meet along the way!
In my current position, where I work on Software Defined Access (SDA), fellow co-workers who have followed me on Twitter and Instagram noticed the Stroopwafel deliveries, and began to ask when I was coming to THEIR offices. Everyone wanted to try Stroopwafels, and now I cannot travel to an event without bringing Stroopwafels with me. All I ask for in return is that they share fun photos of them with their Stroopwafels on social media – and almost everyone does!
When people ask what I do for work, I tell them that I am Cisco’s Chief Stroopwafel Officer (CSO). It even says it on my directory profile! Inevitably, everyone always asks how this is possible.
Within Cisco, for some time now, employees have had the option to change our title to something that represents who we are and what we do for Cisco. I was inspired by another Cisconian, Katherine McNamara who changed her title in the directory to ‘ISE Queen’. ISE stands for Identity Services Engine.
I was intrigued when she did this and always wondered what I would change mine to – today, that is a given. And, in fact, it did not take me long to know exactly what my “new title” would become – the answer was always in my hands. 🙂
Approval from my manager was not needed, but he did get a notification when I changed my title. True to our culture here at Cisco, his response was a welcomed chuckle and approving, “Nice.” Having such an awesome manager that is flexible, and eagerly encourages the Stroopwafel excitement because he recognizes the incredible connections this simple treat is creating, is just one reason to #LoveWhereYouWork.
Of course, the other is bringing smiles to my co-workers with one simple, sweet gift.
Want to find a sweet career and run into our Chief Stroopwafel Officer some day? We’re hiring. Apply now.
Nicole, I love this story and someday if you come to San Jose please look me up…and don't forget to bring me a Stroopwafel 🙂
Your thoughtfulness and the desire for happy colleagues plus your baking abilities far exceeds any team mate I have been blessed to work with. And that is saying a lot as I have over 36 years in IT. United airlines gives a stroopwafel look alike with coffee, I must try yours someday as I know it will redefine the way it tastes when made from home. I too am a cook and baker and appreciate the special flavors from home. Thank you for sharing your unique start on Linkedin. Loved it.
I LOVE this! And I love how you take time each day to spread joy and fun! We need more people like YOU!
I just posted this on LinkedIn and asked for the next Cisco Chief Pizza Officer. Hopefully we can fill this important role 🙂
You are indeed the chief, and responsible for my now lifelong love of the Stroopwaffle moving forward. But I think your smile and knowledge will continue to endear you even to those who don’t know the power of the stroopwaffle 🙂
Good work Vlinder.
If you would like to buy stroopwafels online, visit:
Having been the recipient of an official CSO Stroopwafel, I can confidently say YUM. And, your personality and tech knowledge outshine even the sweetest stroop.
Did the Koala retire?
Cheers Nicole. KD
No Koala is still travelling with me – https://blogs.cisco.com/lifeatcisco/employees-stuffed-koala-becomes-unofficial-cisco-mascot
Hi Nicole and fellow CSO!
The past 5 years whenever i was onsite at a customer, also always brought stroopwafels for the teams. Would have fun to have you in the team for a kick off then we bith bring stroopwafels 🙂
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