Renee, her daughter and her mother stand, smiling, while wearing Cisco Pride Heart tshirts.In October 1997, I was nearly 26, and has just given birth to my first baby when I was offered a role at Cisco. My sister-in-law was an Executive Administrator at Cisco, supporting the CIO at the time, when she called to ask if I was going to accept. I didn’t have a clue about Cisco or high tech – it was truly a sink or swim moment – and I’m so glad to say that I decided to go for a swim! It was the best decision of my life, and – just like that – we became a ‘Cisco Family’.

Looking back now, one of the reasons I took the job was because each floor had a private “mother’s room” with a refrigerator. This is a big deal even now for mothers in the work force, in 1997 – it was like finding the holy grail. I was so impressed that a BIG company like Cisco would think of the ‘little things’ like this and include new mothers needing to pump while working into their office plan. That sealed the deal.

By 2003, I would have two more children. Having three kids while working at Cisco confirmed that this was the best company to work for. It allowed me to truly have a work-life balance. Scott, Cori, and Justin grew up with Cisco being all they knew. How cool was it that ‘mom’s work’ was on the television on a commercial break in between their favorite shows or that the infamous logo could be spotted on routers, phones, and billboards?

Our Cisco family didn’t stop with my sister-in-law and me, either as many other family members worked for Cisco over the years. In 1999, even my mom joined Cisco!

My mom’s journey in life is amazing. In 1973, when she arrived in the United States, she had minimal education and barely spoke English. She worked multiple jobs, went back to school to learn English, and managed to raise three kids with my dad. She built her career in manufacturing and taught herself the fundamentals of production lines, the languages in the industry, writing reports, and fixing PCB boards. My mom overcame many obstacles and when she found her way to Cisco, I was so proud!

The day she was offered her role I remember thinking, “How cool is that? My mom is my co-worker!” Over the years, Cisco became her home away from home, with many co-workers becoming extended family members. I loved having the opportunity to periodically have lunch with her as well, and when she retired from Cisco in 2005 – I thought it was a true testament to her, and how Cisco provided career opportunities and training that no one else was even able to offer.

Renee, her daughter, and mother sit on a blanket, holding hands and smiling in white shirts and jeans.

For me, my Cisco journey provided me with endless opportunities as well. From Administrator and Project Specialist in Infrastructure to auditing in Sarbanes Oxley (S-OX), IT Governance and now, C-Suite IT – I have truly gained experience in every facet of IT.

My first boss, Lance Perry, never held me back and always encouraged me to grow while balancing my young family. And I’m glad to say that for the last 15 years, my C-Suite IT co-workers, like my mom’s co-workers, have become an extended family. As a small and tough team of six, we quietly work behind the scenes ‘doing it all’. We have traveled together to amazing places, worked long days under intense situations, have been there for each other in good times and in bad, and have so many great memories together.

This year will mark 24 years for me at Cisco! A lot of people ask, “What’s keeping you at Cisco?” My answer is easy – Cisco is my home away from home. Most of my adult life has been at Cisco, and because of Cisco – I have been fortunate enough to know what work-life balance is for over two decades and have been able to raise my family and expand my career at the same time.

And the Cisco Family tradition continues – my daughter, Cori, has recently accepted a role at Cisco as a Project Specialist after graduating from University of California, Berkeley!

Cori grew up a true “Cisco Kid” – wearing a Cisco onesie as a newborn, Cisco socks as a teenager, and a Cisco rainbow heart t-shirt from the San Francisco Pride parade as a young adult. She thrived as a child because I was able to support her in academics, pick her up from school, and take her to all her activities.

Now Cori is saying exactly what I said 22 years ago, “How cool is that? My mom is my co-worker!”

I like to think it’s pretty cool.

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Renee Kumamoto

Project Manager

C-Suite IT