Alena overlooking Krakow I grew up in a beautiful, but snowy region of Russia. Who knew that years later, I would be living my life near the ocean, enjoying the best pastéis and sunny days in Portugal as a Cisco Customer Success Specialist working alongside high professional and creative engineers!

So, how did I get here? It all started with a dream. In 2016, while I was still living in Moscow, my colleague inspired me to join Cisco. At the time, I hesitated and had fears of doing so because being a woman in tech in Russia, as it is throughout many parts of tech, is somewhat a challenge. But I decided to go for it anyway, and that year became the first female member on the Cisco Krakow Routing Protocols TAC team. There was a steep learning curve from there to catch up with all the technologies and work to obtain my CCIE certification, but I had great support and mentors along the way.

Then, a visit to Portugal in 2018 changed everything, as I felt in love with Lisbon. In 2019, I entered my current role as a Customer Success Specialist and that same year, with the support of my manager, moved to Lisbon to join the growing Cisco office there. Now, I am one of the leads on the Customers Success team at the Lisbon Customer Experience Center, helping to build and develop our team.

I’ve come so far in just a few years’ time!

I can’t believe that I ever doubted myself in being a successful female engineer. I’m so happy and proud that I overcame those fears and stereotypes in my head! Cisco’s mission is to empower and inclusive future for all – and this has helped to open my mind even further. I am more curious, empathetic, and understanding. And, with Cisco being a global company, I’ve been able to meet people (both virtually and personally) from all over the world, with some of them becoming my close friends!

Being surrounded by some of the industry’s leading professionals, I have learned and grown so much. I now know it is okay to not know everything, because learning is a constant journey. At the same time, I have been given best opportunities and tools to accompany me during this journey – and with every day being different, this journey is an exciting one!

I also learned how important and productive a safe environment to bring your full self to work is. At Cisco your voice is heard and matters, we are all supported in our career growth – even if, someday, that growth brings you to a new role, team, or country!

I’ve now been living in beautiful Lisbon for over a year. I have met amazing people, am improving my Portuguese and love exploring this wonderful country and their culture. Every day it feels more and more like home.

Alena painting Krakow buildings

Here are few things I have learned during my relocation:

1. Don’t be afraid. Take bold steps! You can do it even if it looks scary. Make a plan and step by step, one by one, you will achieve your goals!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help either. You are not alone here. Even if you are relocating all by yourself, there are colleagues, friends, family and even total strangers who are there to support you. You might be surprised how much you can grow by asking for help.

2. Be active. Even though it’s exciting to start your new journey in the new country, there still will be times when you will feel lonely without your friends and family. Allow yourself to be sad sometimes but also be active: join expats communities, get to know your new colleagues better, explore the city, find places and people to keep up with your favorite hobbies. I met great people in Lisbon thanks to a simple Facebook post I replied to. So, go for it, build your life!

3. Enjoy it! Don’t forget what an incredible experience you are going through – you have the whole new country to explore and get to know! Taste, try, watch, travel – enjoy it to the max!

The wonderful thing about Cisco technology and our culture is that location does not define or limit us. We can (and have been for many years) truly ‘work from anywhere’ – so don’t let fear stand in your way of accomplishing something wonderful. ]

Who knows, maybe this time next year, you too will be loving where you work – by the ocean, enjoying the best pastéis and sunny days.


Ready to join our growing teams? Apply now.

Subscribe to the We Are Cisco Blog