Darshan K. wearing a Cisco baseball hat.I have always been a career-oriented individual. That said, when my position at my previous company was eliminated a few years back, I decided to take a short sabbatical to focus on some creative projects and explore self-employment opportunities. Unfortunately, this brief sabbatical took a long turn because of the COVID pandemic. I resumed my job search towards the end of 2021, and with my 25+ years of experience, I was able to get multiple interviews and offers in a short span of time, including one from Cisco.

I did my due diligence on all the companies I received offers from and saw that Cisco was named the #1 Best Workplace, not just in the U.S. multiple times, but in many other countries. So, a lot of people made the determination that Cisco is a great place to work, regardless of their background and culture, which indicated to me that Cisco cared about its people and promised an inclusive environment. The people who had interviewed me at Cisco had certainly been more welcoming and friendly during the interviews compared to the interviewers at other companies.

Cisco wasn’t the highest paying of the job offers. The title was two levels lower than my previous position, where I was a Senior Director. I was conflicted between the logic of more money and a better title and the emotion of experiencing an inclusive, diverse, great workplace. But the more I read about the company, the more I felt inclined to take a chance on Cisco. My heart and gut won, and here I am, completing one year as a Cisconian.

My experience so far has been better than I ever expected! Going into my role, I had mentally prepared myself for some disappointment and adjustment working at a lower level. Instead, the experience I bring to this organization is very much appreciated and respected. I am considered a Subject Matter Expert in my area of sourcing and vendor governance. My manager understands and values my talent and lets me work very independently, only stepping in when I ask for his support on something. My Vendor Management team in Cisco IT, as well as my Hybrid Cloud, Infrastructure, and Operations (HCIO) clients are all extremely supportive and helpful.

I’ve also joined the Women of Cisco Employee Resource Organization, amongst other Inclusive Communities. One day, I read a message where someone was talking about the tattoo they got — a conversation that would have been taboo at any of my other workplaces — and soon, there were other folks posting about their body art. As I read through the messages and saw the pictures, I thought about a nose piercing I used to have. My mom had one too. It’s a cultural thing for us.

Darshan K. holding a Cisco cup.I am originally from India and have been in the U.S. for 25 years. I have spent half of my life in India and the other half in the U.S. and am still very connected to my roots and culture, but I have also adjusted and adapted myself to life here in the U.S. — I am now a blend of the East and West. In my previous jobs in the finance and insurance industries, I had felt that my nose ring was a career-limiting choice. No one had actually said anything, but the way people looked at me, it was apparent that it would hold me back in my career. So, I removed my nose ring, and the piercing eventually closed. Now, I am thinking of getting my nose pierced again — on my next trip to India! — because I feel Cisco’s work culture would support that. It’s such a part of me, my culture, and it reminds me of my mom. I feel comfortable and accepted for who I am, and I can be my whole self at Cisco!

In my entire 25+ year career, I have worked in different countries, geographies, and for various companies and clients in several industries. Never have I worked for such a company where even the Executive Leadership Team strives to connect with their employees and create an environment where everyone feels included and appreciated, regardless of who they are and where they are from.

I am happy I took the chance on Cisco, and now I, too, can say that it’s a great place to work!

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Darshan P. Kaur

Leader, IT Vendor Management

IT Workforce - Vendor Management