Every year, Cisco celebrates International Women’s Day on or around March 8th and we also participate in the Women of Impact conference – which is attended by over 15,000 Cisco employees, partners, and customers around the globe and includes broadcasts from five different worldwide sites that are open to the public. 

The building that our Cisco Glasglow offices are in.

We had literally just moved into our brand-new Cisco Glasgow office a few weeks prior, but led by our fantastic local ambassador, Marisa Metcalf, we put together an ambitious series of events and were ready for an exciting day. Women of Impact is a very inclusive event, with diverse speakers on various topics – and, yes, that also includes men. Afterall, there are lessons for everyone and at Cisco we know it is our differences that make us stronger. 

I was surprised and humbled to be asked to present, talking about how I built and used a network across multiple organizations to help convince Cisco to fund and support the 5G RuralFirst innovation project. It’s an initiative, I have to say, I never actually “received permission” to start, but at Cisco, we’re all about taking bold steps. And sometimes, that requires a bit of “Don’t (always) ask for permission” which was the theme of my presentation. I presented along with a key collaborative partner in this, Dr. David Crawford of the University of Strathclyde. 

There were so many wonderful presentations that day. Toni Scullion, a Computing Science school teacher, and founder of Dresscode, shared how she works with schools and businesses to promote computer coding for young girls. While Kevin Murphy, Manager of Hearts Women’s Football Team, shared how he has encouraged women to make their mark in football a historically male dominated sport in Scotland. These were just two of my favourite presentations. 

As a father of a daughter, it was powerful for me to see all the work that is going into empowering girls and women to enter technology. Tech is a great place for a career and sometimes a little encouragement is all that is needed to help young girls consider such an option.  

The highlight of my day, however, was definitely when my own personal special guest arrived a very important “woman of impact” – my 80-year-old mum! She happened to be in Glasgow that day for a keep fit class (isn’t that impressive!) and I thought it would provide a great opportunity to show her where I worked and what a modern hi-tech Cisco office was like 

Stephen and his mum.

My mum had grown up with my grandfather working in the coal mines (from age 14) of central Scotland, and her working life was spent in various offices and schools – all fairly tough environments. And all while raising me and my three sisters – she certainly had her work cut out for her brining us all up. In difficult times, she was filled with amazing patience, and she must have made so many sacrifices to get us through school and university.  

In all the years I’ve been working, she hasn’t really gotten to experience what I do as a Product Manager for our Customer Experience team. This seemed like a great day to make that happen! 

When she arrived at Cisco, our friendly, welcoming office awaited her, and she was well looked after by my colleagues (thanks Bridget and Gerry in particular). She was impressed by the high-tech space, that featured Glasgow-styled wall art, and was so impressed by our guest speakers and the event itself.  

At the end of the day, she said it was a world of a difference from her working environments! And, I have to agree, when you compare our two working lives – it’s hard to call what I do for a living “work” as I love it so much when we have real fun along the way. But, to be fair, that is just the way we are around here. 

At Cisco, you’re not only encouraged to ‘be you, with us’ but you also realize that loving where you work – and what you do for work – is achievable. 

I am glad I got to share that experience with my mum, a true Woman of Impact for me. 

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Stephen Speirs

SP Product Management

Cisco Customer Experience (CX)