One of the reasons I love working for Cisco is because my values match theirs. Not only is Cisco’s purpose to build a more inclusive future for all, but that is something I strongly believe in as well. I also love that, from this shared purpose, Cisco brought me to an opportunity to ‘be the bridge’ with a social cause that I am passionate about.

At the end of last year, I was attending one of our regular company-wide check-ins. This is where I listened in on two topics that were quite new to me: first the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge, which rewards the best technological projects solving a social problem, and secondly how Cisco was solving connectivity problems in remote locations, in partnership with Mercy Corps.

Liliana working on the computer

Since I am aware that many rural areas in Mexico were facing telecommunications problems, these two concepts caught my attention. I wondered if the Global Problem Solver Challenge might be able to help rural areas of Mexico. With these ideas echoing in my mind, I got to work on researching organizations that might already be doing this work locally, and that is when I found Americas Telecomunicaciones Indígenas Comunitarias (TIC A.C.).

TIC A.C. is nonprofit, rural association with a presence mainly in remote communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. They help local people manage, install, and run their own telecommunications networks, because typically these services are too expensive for the communities if they try to contract an Internet Service Provider on their own.

In that moment I felt deeply engaged with their vision and I had a feeling that Cisco could impact them positively. I knew I had to reach out to them! With the registration deadline for Cisco’s Global Problem Solver Challenge looming, I also knew time was of the essence. It might be difficult for TIC A.C. to get their entry submitted with only a few days left, but I had to try.

Peter B. from TIC A.C. responded, thanking me for letting them know about the challenge, and that they would apply. After that, I wasn’t quite sure what happened – until July 2021, when I saw on Cisco’s Latin American Instagram account that TIC A.C. was one of the winners! This resulted in TIC A.C. wining $75,000 USD to deploy a 4G Community Network in rural areas of Mexico.

Somehow, even in a small way, I felt included in that Instagram post. In that moment, it felt like when someone has been planning a surprise party, and you finally get to the moment where everyone shouts, “Surprise!” I was so happy for TIC A.C. and was thrilled that they were able to submit a solution in just a few days’ time – something that may not have happened had I not emailed to let them know about Cisco’s Global Problem Solver Challenge.

I see this story as a series of events brought together by pure magic – it’s the kind of magic that happens when you are working for the right company, and the right cause. Volunteering and supporting social causes are important pillars to Cisco’s culture, and the work each employee puts into volunteering is highly appreciated across the organization.

As a Project Manager for Cisco’s Customer Experience (CX) team, my role includes gathering requirements, identifying stakeholders, organizing meetings, and making projects successful. Cisco has been such a perfect platform that allows me to apply my professional skills, and my Telecommunications Engineering major in favor of social causes which helps to make my job more meaningful to me.

Another reason I love to working at Cisco is because, even though I started this effort alone, I have found colleagues along the way who have guided me and helped make this possible – and our efforts continue to add up for Mexican non-profit organizations.  Currently we are in the process of enrolling TIC A.C. into Bright Funds, recruiting Cisco colleagues to mentor the TIC A.C. team with knowledge about Fiber Optics networks, and are open to any other opportunities to help in the future.

Through this experience, I grew my professional network within, and outside Cisco and I learned how powerful our impact as employees and citizens can be (and is) – you just need to connect the dots. If you are already generating a social impact in your community and you feel passionate about it, you don’t have to give up on those efforts for your career. Actually, you would be a perfect fit for Cisco and our culture!

And if you have not tried volunteering yet I highly suggest you do. Cisco gives employees 40 hours each year to give back to causes they are most passionate about – so what are you waiting for? Find a cause you want to advocate for and helps us create a more inclusive future for all. As employee you have the chance to volunteer by becoming a judge for the challenge, or if you want to know more about Cisco Global Problem Challenge and how to nominate projects click here .  Sometimes creating a positive impact is just one click away.

Learn more about the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge

(Pssst… Cisco employees can even be judges!)

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Liliana Reyes Mendez

Customer Project Manager

CX - Customer Delivery