Change can be scary, until you realize it’s often a much needed transformation – I’ve worked at Cisco for 12 years (currently I’m an Enterprise Account Manager based in Mexico City) and I have been a part of several company transformations. Some came from our business side, but other transformations I have experienced have come from the Cisco employees.

Jose and friends at a race.

This was how I experienced my latest transformation and found a new love of a running with the Cisco Runners Club.

I have always loved sports. Growing up, my parents supported us trying anything that caught our eye, and after trying several sports – I fell in love with ice hockey. As you can imagine, playing ice hockey in Mexico wasn’t really affordable or accessible, but somehow, we made it work and I was able to play on one of the few ice rinks in Mexico City.

My teenage years were spent playing ice hockey five or six times a week, sometimes finishing ice hockey tournaments to join inline hockey tournaments and vice versa. I became a total amateur sport athlete and was loving it. Eventually, I even had the opportunity to represent my country in both Ice Hockey and Inline Hockey World Championships. To this day that makes me really proud.

As I entered my university and professional years, however, sports took a back seat to my studies and building a career. There were many collateral damages from having to leave sports (one of which was weight gain) and while I tried to make a “come back” it was difficult to remain as consistent as I once was in hockey. I attempted individual sports, but the camaraderie of team sports was always missing.

I knew I had to find another way to become more active, and this is where Cisco came in!

The Enterprise Group in Cisco Mexico is always looking for different ways to transform customer relationships, this has been the philosophy of Guillermo García and Hugo Barojas for over 10 years. It’s been a proven formula and it is one of the many factors that define our group, and in large part is why in 2018 we launched the Cisco Runners Club initiative.

The goal was the help our customers in a 360-degree approach, both at work and in their daily lives – to be both professionals and family leaders as well. We wanted to create the intention of developing better habits through the sports, nutrition, customized programs and a highly qualified health coach. We’d also host monthly team trainings to collaborate through Webex Teams.

Cisco Running Club group photo.

The first cohort included 30 people that brought together our customers, sales account team and marketing leaders along with their family members. It would last for six months, and at the end would culminate with a 10-kilometer race. They also had a special challenge as the group varied from seasoned athletes who practiced different sports at a competitive level to those who had never participated in a sport before. When we saw the joy and pride in each participant’s face as they crossed the finish line in that 10k race, the program organizers knew our goal had been met.

I couldn’t participate in the first cohort but was excited to take on the second session with my clients. And while I had been active in sports growing up, I had never been a runner. Still, I knew there was no turning back with 10+ customers already signed up.

This second cohort was a group of 60+ people in total, including all the participants from the first cohort who were anxious to repeat! They were awarded a special commemorative running shirt as a symbol of their achievement. For the rest of the first timers, we were filled with excitement to get things started.

What the Cisco Runners Club provided was a sense of belonging – a community and a team that was bonding around the same objectives. We collaborated with the group as well as our coaching staff through Webex Teams weekly. Here we shared our successes and progress as we prepared for the team trainings and our goal – the family race!

We not only met all our goals, but we had happy customers that were on track with a healthier lifestyle. And, personally, I obtained something I had been looking for many years – I was able to reconnect with myself through sports.

Now I´m running four of five times a week, adding 30-40 kilometers per week. I´ve lost 10 kilograms of weight and I am hoping to lose some more. A year ago, I was hoping to possibly run 5 kilometers and now I am thinking I might be able to run half a marathon!

I´m grateful for Cisco and the Mexico Enterprise Group for empowering us to bring these kinds of experiences not only into our lives, but into our customer’s lives as well.

I cannot wait for the third edition of the Cisco Runners Club to begin!

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Jose Alejandro Labrador

Account Manager