520 weeks. 120 months. 10 years. A decade is a long time, a time worth celebrating. That’s what I’ve just done – celebrated my 10th Ciscoversary! And as I reflect on the road that’s led me to here and now, it has truly been a wonderful journey.

My parents immigrated to the United Kingdom from one of the poorest countries on earth. My parents envisioned a life for their children better than their own, and with big goals for the future.

Joining Cisco was such an accomplishment for me, and for my parents: they could see their hard work manifest in my success. I know over the years this has given them great joy and satisfaction as they’ve watched me grown into a successful woman in tech.

Life, of course, comes with its criticisms and hardships, even as adults.

One of the places where I have felt harsh judgement as an adult is at the school gates. That may be something you often hear from school aged children, or adults after they’ve grown. But I feel this judgement today, as an adult, with other mother’s looking down at me. Judging the life choices I have made.

I know their judgements wouldn’t be so powerful if it weren’t for my own insecurities, but still I hear the whispers in my head as I board the plane to go on business trips, ‘What kind of mother leaves her children?’

I know that I am not alone.

Getting the balance right for working mums is a favourite topic of blogs and books that fill the self-help shelves. We are caught between the feminists and capitalists, the religious scholars and the politicians. Yet each of us is unique, and though Sheryl Sandberg told us it was ok to feel this way, I still find it hard to ‘lean in’. It is something I am constantly working at – this life/work balance so many of us seek.

For me, work had to be more than just the dash between 9-5; it had to be more than tasks and outcomes. Sacrificed time with family had to align to my values; it had to make a difference.

Over the last decade I’ve watched Cisco go through monumental change. In fact change has become a way of life for us here: ever evolving, ever disrupting, reaching heights we never imagined we could.

Want to grow with a team over the years? We’re hiring! Apply now!

Our culture has shifted to one where we try to put people at the heart of everything we do, while recognizing that individual success is determined by how well our teams are performing.

I am inspired by how we are changing the world in all its many avenues. I am proud of how much we give back via our Network Academies and our charity match campaigns. I see the endless possibilities in remote medical clinics, remote classrooms and a safer planet to raise our children.

I see moments that matter and I see Cisco responding every time.


The irony is, that in my quest to find balance between work and family – I found myself! I now know the strengths and skills that make me unique. I believe my diversity brings a different perspective and I have gained so much from the connections I have made. I am challenged to go further, aim higher and if I fail – I know my manager and my team has my back.

That is just how we operate here at Cisco.

I’m excited for the journey ahead. While we all have our challenges, I feel a sense of quiet optimism, and when I hear my 5 year old daughter tell her friends proudly, “My mum is the boss of Cisco…”

I smile and think, “Chuck, you’d better watch out!” 😀



Toneya Sarwar

HR Manager

Human Resources - EMEAR