As a Partner Marketing Manager for Qatar and Turkey, I always felt the need to hide my true self at work. There was always a strict line between my professional life and my personal life – where I also had a career as a yoga & mindfulness teacher for children. It was a role that I thought would, in the worlds or marketing and technology, have me perceived as “less professional” or “distracted” by my employer or co-workers. As such, there was no chance that these two lives would intersect at any point, let alone be mixed – and that was that. I could only be the “real me” after 6 pm.

This wasn’t easy! And, in fact, it was draining. It even led me to experience serious symptoms of Imposter Syndrome.

But all that changed when I started interviewing at Cisco.

During my interview process, my manager asked questions in order to get to know me better – the true me, the whole me, my authentic self – including my interest in working with children. And she wasn’t asking for the sake of asking, either. I could tell that she was really curious not only about my experience, but also about who I was as a person – both professionally and personally. For her, my experience didn’t just consist of my work in marketing or resume. She cared about who I was after 6pm.

It was the first time I truly felt my “other life” could cross that line and step into (what I used to call) my “real life.”

It was weird at first, but after accepting my offer to join Cisco, and joining the team – a few weeks later, I realized I had nothing to worry about. I no longer needed to hide my personal passions, my career as a yoga & mindfulness teacher, or anything else that made me who I am. I even learned that Cisco really takes this a step further – it isn’t just about getting to ‘be you, with us’ – it’s about really embracing who you are and the strengths your life possesses.

Previously, when others found out about my passions, it was just a known ‘thing’ – it wasn’t celebrated or encouraged. I didn’t ‘bring’ it to the office with me – they were two totally separate worlds. That’s just not the case at Cisco, and I learned that in a big way in early 2020, just months after starting my role here.

When the world shifted to working from home, I heard a lot of parents talking about the challenges of keeping their kids entertained throughout the day. In this moment, I knew I had something to offer: my expertise on mindfulness for children! I knew that this skillset could not only benefit the parents I knew at Cisco, but also the kids of Cisco. Yes, it meant my colleagues and leadership saw me jumping around like a monkey or roaring like a lion, but guess what? It was okay! In fact, it was more than okay – it was celebrated!

After our session, I received lots of messages and pictures from my colleagues showing their children in yoga poses; or practicing breathing exercises we did together. I also knew that I wouldn’t be taken less seriously the next morning when I presented our marketing plans. And that’s the beauty of Cisco’s culture. It enabled a huge shift in my mindset and I am grateful every single day that I can finally be my true self and that I am appreciated for who I am and what I bring to Cisco.

I am proud to say that I no longer have two different lives separated by a strict line. I am 100% ME. No matter if I am at work, on the yoga mat, or on weekly team calls – wearing high heels and a black dress, or neon pink leggings and a “Yogi Cat” t-shirt. At Cisco, you can bring your whole self to work, and I am so happy that I get to do that every single day.


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