I have two jobs here at Cisco! Maybe that sounds odd, but let me explain! One of the greatest things about working at Cisco is that they encourage you to balance your work and your passions. So while my main focus is leading a team of talented employees covering pre-sales for Global Virtual Sales in our EMEAR region – my PASSION is for bees!
That’s right – I’m a Cisco Bee Keeper!
And since my wife has yet to approve of me keeping bees in our small garden, being a bee keeper through work is wonderful – and it’s great that the bees have a home here at Cisco.
We started our bee keeping journey at Cisco with several colleagues in France. During a monthly sustainability awareness session a co-worker explained the bees’ decline and how pollinating insects play a crucial role in biodiversity. The calls to action were clear: plant bee friendly flowers, ban pesticide usage, buy local honey, and…become a bee keeper!
You want it? You got it! 😀
We started with three bee colonies in 2010 (which is around 100,000 bees), and called the project Connected Bees as we were hoping to “swarm” to other Cisco locations. In 2011, our Reading (UK) colleagues started a bee colony as well, and in 2012, a colony began in Amsterdam (NL) as well – where I then moved for a great work opportunity!
During this time, we also started to explore technologies that would possibly connect bees to scientists – hoping that this would help them identify the culprit for declining bees. Today, the French hives are connected with Cisco technologies, and we would like to do the same in Amsterdam.
Our goal is to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity by helping to sustain it. One of the ways we do this, is to highlight how important our health is as humans. Many would say that our health is the most important thing in our life, and to be healthy, we need to eat diverse foods.
If pollinating insects were to disappear, we would have to change our diet to a less healthy one, and that would eventually be quite bad for us all.
Imagine a world without apples, almonds, blueberries, or pumpkins – what would we do at Halloween? The horror! Think about how you might feel if cherries, avocados, cucumbers, onions, oranges, and strawberries were to disappear from the planet. Still not convinced? Chocolate and coffee are gone too. Completely wiped out.
Did you know that 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90% of most of the world’s food depend on pollination? And that is just based on human consumption – it doesn’t even account the wild life that depends on these foods! The whole food chain would be under a huge stress if it weren’t for the likes of bees.
Today, we are making sure our Connected Bees are happy on our Cisco rooftops and we use their honey to raise funds for charities. Every event is truly an opportunity to involve our local employees. From helping jar the honey in Amsterdam to running a hackathon on how to best connect the bees to scientists – many of our employees are pitching in to help the bees succeed.
This passion project has not only connected me back to nature and helped me to see how magnificent our earth really is in each new flower every spring, but it has also help me to meet colleagues that I would have never met otherwise. I have many new friends now – 100,000+ bees, bee keepers, and colleagues to be exact! 😀
The Connected Bees project highlights Cisco’s deeply rooted culture in so many ways, and has succeeded so far thanks to a diverse team of employees motivated by technology (helping to connect the bees to scientists) and giving back (helping to connect the honey to charities). Everyone has their own strengths and capabilities – and it really shines here!
In fact, Cisco employees are a lot like bees! When you look at how bees help each other in a colony, you learn a lot about collaboration and can even use that in your day to day work.
Here’s Three Ways Our Connected Bees are a lot like Cisco Employees:
1 – It’s all about collaboration: bees have their purpose and work together to achieve the common goal.
2 – We are working smart: bees are efficient in using resources and energy.
3 – There is no status quo: bees are constantly reinventing their home to survive.
I could never have done this alone, and I’m so grateful that other employees stepped in to make the Connected Bees project a reality. Why do I love where I work? It’s simple, really.
Any employee can take a crazy idea and make it a viable project here at Cisco. We’re encouraged to explore, innovate, and change the world. We always look at how technologies can make a difference, and I’m happy to say that we’ve been making a real impact through Connected Bees.
Last but not least, remember: Plant bee friendly flowers, ban pesticides, buy local honey, become a bee keeper! 😀
Want to join a company that encourages you to follow your passions? We’re hiring!
More information on the Cisco Connected Bees: