This post was co-authored by Kristen Taylor (Regional Manager), Melissa Urias (Field Marketing Manager), and Katie Gehart (Renewals Manager).

Kristen and her two friends on their old softball team.

Back in 1999 we formed a friendship that we knew was special while playing high school softball together. Twenty-two years later, Melissa, Katie and I are still teammates because…well, when you love where you work, you tell your friends!

That’s right, we’re now on team Cisco working in Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience!

While I was in college, my father worked for Cisco as a Regional Sales Manager and never passed up an opportunity to introduce me to his co-workers (especially the successful female Account Managers on his team). His enthusiasm for showing me what was possible inspired my career path, and I started telling people that after graduation, I would become a Cisco Account Manager.

I had a series of internships that supported this plan and after graduation I accepted a job working with a local Cisco distributor. I was there for about 3 months, when I received a call from an Account Manager at Cisco, Dan Goodman, telling me that they were going to be starting the Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP) to train recent college graduates to be IT Sales Professionals. I knew immediately this was meant for me!

After being accepted into the program, I spent a year in Raleigh, North Carolina before taking my first sales role in New York City. After six years in the city, I decided to relocate with Cisco back to my home state of Arizona.

In all my years with Cisco, the thing that I have loved most is the people. I have had amazing mentors and made lifelong friendships, and I always knew that I wanted to “pay it forward” – and do what Dan Goodman had done for me, by helping someone else find their way into this amazing company.

And, in 2011, I got my shot when I was able to help my best friend Melissa join Cisco!

A before and after picture of Kristen's softball team before and now.

Melissa’s Story:

Watching Kristen grow through CSAP, and her career flourish – I was so intrigued to learn more about this amazing company. I had so many questions and was fascinated by her experience working for an innovative technology leader such as Cisco!

After she moved back home to Arizona, she heard about a role that she thought I would be a perfect fit for, and I jumped at the chance. She armed me with what I needed to be successful in the interviews and starting a career at Cisco. One of my favorite pieces of advice that she gave me at that time (that I still carry with me to this day) was, “Always ask for support moving to the next level – in everything from a job interview to asking for the PO for a sales order.”

From the moment I arrived at Cisco 10 years ago, I felt welcomed, and I’m constantly inspired by the support and comradery that I’ve been a part of. And just as Kristen had done for me, I wanted to pay it forward someday.

In 2018, I got my shot when I was able to help our best friend and teammate, Katie join us at Cisco! (And then again later that year when I recommended another friend, Anne Panozzo, to backfill my position when I took a new role. I was rewarded with an employee referral bonus and the satisfaction that I knew my previous team would be left in fantastic hands!)

Katie’s Story:

Kristen and friends on the Cisco softball team.

I knew Cisco was the real deal as I had watched, for over a decade, as Kristen and Melissa’s careers took off with unlimited possibilities – all thanks to Cisco. They would always light up when talking about Cisco and you could see, hear, and feel the passion they had for this company. They really did ‘love where you work’.

At the time, I was an elementary educator, and loved giving back to the community. However, as my 6-year-old daughter and I were facing our 6th move, I decided I was ready for a career change. I knew exactly who to go to in this moment: Kristen and Melissa.

A few short weeks later Melissa called me with a role at Cisco she thought I’d be a great fit for. I knew it would be a lifechanging opportunity for me, and I pursued it with all my heart. With guidance, mentorship, and endless amounts of love I accepted the role, and can now also say, proudly, that Cisco is a place where dreams come true.

At Impact 2019, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins displayed an image of house keys from an employee give back effort with Habitat for Humanity. It brought me to tears, as I was also carrying a photo of my new house keys that I had purchased just one week prior. Now I am in a career where there is no limit, and I can still give back to my community in a whole new capacity that I never knew existed (Cisco gives us 40 hours every year to do just that!)

22 years later, we are all still friends and teammates, raising children, developing our careers, driving Women of Impact for our local chapter, and giving back like never before. So, we take “We Are Cisco” to heart – because while we have been on some incredible teams together, Cisco is one of the best!


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