Rashmi and 4 of her peers wear silly hats and glasses under a SPNS Innocation Hackathon poster.My name is Rashmi – pronounced like Rush-Me. And my name seems to fit me as I love to RUSH into new opportunities. One of which was Cisco’s Innovation Pipeline – this was a dream opportunity for me! Overall, I organized the event planning, coordinated with organizers and participants, and applied my basic instincts of being a fairly new graphic designer.

But wait, you’re probably wondering what the Innovation Pipeline is! Innovation is an art, and a way of thinking and implementing creative ideas. So, the Innovation Pipeline is a space to collect, vet, and add innovation to Cisco products by connecting employees with subject matter experts. The goal is to create an influx of new ideas, and spark new innovation that make business sense for the Service Provider (SP) organization.

All of my senses – including my sixth – said that this would be a great opportunity.

I got involved a little late in the game but I was able to reach out to Avni Baveja on my team and do a little ‘time travel’ in order to catch up. Avni is the recipient of several patents and was very helpful in providing insight into what this experience might be, and what it would require to participate. I heard stories about how the Innovation Pipeline all started, who were the initiators, how the brainstorming sessions jump started innovation, and how it flourished until now.

I knew I did not want to miss the chance to witness 12 undergraduate students filled with brilliant ideas, who were ready to disrupt the industry, that would all be anchored by Cisco’s expertise. I was energized and excited to be involved.

A group of Rashmi's friends and colleagues holding a large check with the words SPNS INNOVATION across the bottom.

Here are the Top 3 ways I contributed:

1. Design: One of my projects for the event was to create a poster for the Intern Innovation Showcase – a very formal though ‘Bay Area casual’ event that would display the student’s work before they went back to school. It made me proud to think that I helped get the word out to our organization, resulting in an attendance of 400+ members of SP.

2. The Hackathon: The Hackathon is an organization wide wave of change. Where folks just like you and me have generated over 100+ innovative ideas. I submitted my idea of a ‘Feature Based Subscription’ which would analyze and reduce XR 3rd party royalties and licenses cost – and I am happy to say that my idea made it to the second round! While my idea did not progress further, knowing that these pipelines of ideas were linked to key business outcomes that all contribute to one of Cisco’s People Deal values of ‘Make Innovation Happen’ was inspiring.

If you haven’t read our People Deal manifesto, yet – you should! It shares the story of who we are, what we do and where we’re heading at Cisco.

3. The Tech Talks: One initiative I had was to productize the ideas. In order to boost the chances of this happening we requested that participants present at Tech Talks. I felt accomplished when several teams enthusiastically participated with their wonderful ideas. Everything from a smart way of debugging to addressing the problem of software technical debt holistically from code to customer was presented.

I was so happy with the end result of the Innovation Pipeline and was excited that it had encouraged the young and budding Cisconians to participate and put forth even their tiniest innovative ideas, experiment with those ideas, and package them into shippable products. Yet another effort, from all of us involved, towards another Cisco value: ‘Focus Intensely on Customers.’6 people sit in a conference room during a tech talk.

What’s even more exciting is that some of their ideas made it to Aha! (Which is a software visual roadmap tool to manage ideas and requirements from product management.) and are on their way to be implemented! I find so much pleasure seeing all this happen and most importantly being one of the many incredible team members in making the Innovation Pipeline happen.

Being a UX Designer, I have always told people that I am not a very technical person. But, that’s the great thing about Cisco – you don’t need to be entirely technical. I was able to align myself with the technical teams and committed to another of Cisco’s values in doing so – ‘Respect and Care for Each Other.’

It’s amazing to see what we can accomplish together.

I am Cisco. You are Cisco. And, you and I together make #WeAreCisco.

Ready to join our innovative teams? We’re hiring. Apply now.



Rashmi Sathawane