Movember cupcakes
It’s all about the mustache in November as Cisco employees participate in Movember activities to raise awareness for men’s health issues.

Whether it’s in the U.S., Poland, the UK or other locations, mustaches are taking over Cisco offices this month! Pencil-thin mustaches, handle-bar mustaches, fake mustaches (for the women!) – they’re everywhere!

Cisco employees love to have an impact over their community, whether it’s their neighborhood, city or country. Today I want to take you on a world tour to see how Cisco employees impact not only their own health, but the health of their communities as they “celebrate” Movember.

For those who don’t know, The Movember Foundation is a global charity committed to men living happier, healthier, longer lives. Since 2003, millions have joined the men’s health movement, raising $650 million and funding over 1,000 programs focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity.

Krakow, Poland

The Krakow site leader, Norm DePeau, VP Global Business Services is taking part because he, himself, is a cancer survivor.

Movember Cisco
Norm DePeau’s Movember look in Krakow.

“In 2006 they discovered I’m suffering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, so I had to go through 4 months of chemotherapy and then radiations,” Norm says. “I was very fortunate. They discovered it by accident so it was caught before I had the typical symptoms so it shortened the amount of treatments I had to go through.”

“I actively share my personal story because I think people should understand the importance of regular checks at their doctor and it helps them later to overcome that difficult time. The one thing that I really like about the activities we have at the office this year is that there is an emphasis on the real purpose of Movember. This year we partnered with our healthcare provider and we have a doctor coming to the office, talking with employees about the steps they should take in order to have prevent cancer and get an early diagnosis.”

Norm is excited to participate, but like a lot of people, he has to balance his Movember enthusiasm with his family happiness (his family aren’t fans of his facial hair) and his professional role (he meets with government representatives and executives regularly.) Hence, this year he decided to grow a full beard and not just the regular mustache but he’s going to keep his facial hair short and professional.

“Even some women here are wearing fake mustaches at the office,” he laughs. “But many women that are working here have spouses or male family members and they can now become part of the advocacy process for regular checkups and preventions.”

“We had a professional barber coming to the office at the beginning of Movemeber to shave off our hair, so I had to get rid of my beard in order to be part of the competition we have here- who has he prettiest mustache, the longest one or the most famous one- so at the end of the month our employees can decide who the winner is.” Says Filip Zagaja, Environment, Health & Safety Program Manager. “Plus, we will have a bake sale to raise funds for our local Movember organization.”

Cisco collaboration technology is also helping out – there’s a guest speaker from the UK presenting via Webex and talking about his personal story as a young man who survived cancer!

Speaking of the UK . . .

“There are few things that motivated me to join Movember”, says Luke Williams, Local IT & Telepresence team lead from the UK. “I become aware of it in the last couple of years, seeing everyone in Cisco doing this. Men are really bad at dealing with their health, we don’t like discussing it and we ignore it with an ‘it will all be fine’ attitude.”

Movember Cisco
Luke Williams gets a pre-Movember shave so he can grow from scratch.

What he likes about Movember is that it raises awareness for the fact that men need to take care of themselves.

“What’s nice about it is that it became something very cool, very trendy & fashionable, so it’s a good way for people to change their culture,” Luke says. “It’s fun and cool and there are great fundraising and personalities involved. It’s a great way of getting men in general to become more accepting of the fact they need to be aware of their own physical, mental and emotional health. The fun we had at the office included a professional barber coming to shave us, and of course a competition. We still haven’t identified the award categories but I would like to put forwards the ‘worst mustache award’ because I will win that!”

What about the U.S.? And women?

Zina Rambo, Business Operations Manager for the dCloud team, is based in the US (our RTP office in North Carolina) but is a part of a global dCloud team (with people in Michigan, California, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, the UK, Italy, Switzerland and Costa Rica) that is super motivated around Movember, because they see it as a really special way to remember and honor a team member who passed away from cancer last year.

Movember dCloud team
Some members of Cisco’s dCloud Movember team.

“This is our way of giving back, he was so important to us not just as a team member, but as a friend. When he got sick, we went all in to do Movemeber events and other related activities to drum up funding. During the month of Movemeber on our team meeting we use video to see how our men look with their mustache and we women are wearing our fake mustaches! Our goal is to raise $10,000 this month. I think we can make it!”

There are other ways for women to participate as well. A program called Movember MOVE calls all employees to get active and start moving for 30 minutes a day. They can raise funds (and support Movember) without having to grow a mustache! Some of the Cisco office gyms offers unique classes for this month, where people and teams can join and get their 30 minutes MOVE.

“I also signed up for the MOVE and I’m walking a lot more then I usually am to get these miles in the program,” Zina says. “We are not so competitive on the team, but we joke around as some of the men have the most horrific mustaches ever and they are so proud of them, so we have a lot of laughs.”

So if you start to see a lot of employees around the world sporting their mustaches, bad or good, know it’s for a good cause. Support their efforts, give them some kudos.

And if working for a company where things like this are important, join our team.


Tamar Glasner

EMEAR Talent Brand

Talent brand in Talent Acquisition