I believe in serendipity. It happens.
My journey to Cisco is an interesting one. Prior to working here, I’d been a software consultant most of my career. I helped customers accelerate adoption and business value from their software implementations through developing & executing change management strategies.
Due to the nature of the role, it required a significant amount of travel, which was fine until we finally found out we were expecting after a very long journey. I was flying coast to coast every week up until I was seven months pregnant. On one of those trips, I got really sick – it was a catalyst for me. Something had to change.
I was recruited into Cisco based on my past consulting experience as a Workforce Experience Advisor, and I loved it. I felt like I was just starting to make a difference, and then the team was disbanded.
I was flying home from a customer meeting shortly after receiving the bad news, so I did what any disgruntled, confused, person would do – I was enjoying a glass of wine. I started idle chatter with the woman sitting next to me (coming from vacation) regarding where she was headed, etc. We eventually started talking shop. She was intrigued with my job and wanted to learn more and asked me where I worked. I replied “Cisco” and she said, “Me too!”. Naturally, I told her I was not at liberty to share more until I saw her badge (you’re welcome Cisco security). She promptly pulled out her badge and it was game on. I decided to buy her a wine too as I knew we were going to hunker down for a good working session.
I began to share my presentation, context around what I do, and how I felt it was really making a difference to our customers because I wasn’t selling anything – I was trying to help them adopt what they already had. She thought it was incredible and asked if I could speak to her team. I was honest, I told her that I probably wouldn’t be around for her next team meeting.
“That’s a travesty,” she said as she started to pull out her laptop and connect on LinkedIn to my current manager as she thought my background would be perfect for a role in Customer Success. Two days later, I received a call from the same recruiter that originally recruited me (really?!). (Career advice note: this demonstrates the importance of making human connections no matter where you are – you just NEVER know.)
That serendipitous moment was kind of magical to me. What we’re doing in our new Customer Experience organization is magical, and what I am now doing as a Customer Experience Executive is also magical. Here’s why:
- Our mission is my passion: I have relentless focus on helping our customers be successful. Sometimes I feel like I am a decoder ring: helping customers make sense of all of the Cisco resources, the gargantuan portfolio of solutions, and how to navigate it all with services and partners (still waiting for that ring to come in the mail).
- My team is my anchor: I feel like we are really empowered to take risks, encouraged to speak up, and recognized for our contributions. I can truly be myself and for the first time in a long time, feel like my talents are fully embraced and nurtured.
- I can be me: I am inspired to be the best version of myself and to lead with courage, integrity, passion, and humility. I can focus on my priorities to ensure I consistently bring the best ME I possibly can. This can mean taking a break to throw on sneakers and take a run to clear my head, or surprising my daughter for lunch at school. This enables me to honor the commitments I have made to myself and my family, and to better serve my customers to drive their success.
Now how did the unicorn come into play with all of this? Well, I was explaining my role to a customer, and I said, “My role is to help you get maximum value out of your existing Cisco investments and drive utilization and adoption.”
After explaining my role a bit further, he said, “I feel like you are a Cisco unicorn!” In truth, he’s not that far off as many of us leave a bit of magic when we deliver results and help are customers succeed.
The result of our conversation had my customer excited, “Go do your unicorn thing!” he proclaimed. “And I will commit to responding quickly and getting the resources you need to help us get the most value out of our Cisco technology.”
The reality is, if I can help deliver an incredible customer experience, accelerate the value customers get out of their existing Cisco investments, and drive trust, customers will be more loyal, buy more, and tell others about their experience. I really love what I am doing and couldn’t be more excited to be part of the enchanting journey Cisco is on.
Do you believe in magic? Let me hear your story in comments!
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Very cool, Erin! Hope to run into you on a plane some day…
Having had the pleasure of working with Erin in two different orgs, this article is "so Erin" in the best of ways! She is an amazing asset to Cisco, and an equally delightful person!
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