There are a lot of reasons to work at Cisco, but one of the best reasons I’ve found is because the best people work here.
After being at Cisco for a year, I really felt I was part of the Cisco Capital team, achieving personal and professional goals, but still new to North Carolina and finding my bearings.
Thank goodness I met my Cisco match. My future best friend, “work wife”, and a profound role model in my life. Linda Villarreal graduated from the LiFT program (Leaders in Finance and Technology, previously known of as the FRP program, Finance Rotation Program) in September, 2015. She joined our team after graduating and there was no turning back. We just clicked from the start. I could only hope everyone has a chance to experience that in their lifetime.
Picture the scene from the iconic movie Stepbrothers. We had that “did we just become best friends?” moment. It was clear that we were meant to be friends. Our paths crossed for a reason. Our manager, Ana Maria Castillo, could not deny this instant connection. Within days of Linda joining our team, Ana paired us together. Together, we tackled the Mid-Atlantic and New York Territory with a team of 3 sales people. We worked seamlessly overcoming new situations, training new hires, and overall satisfying our customers/partners. And if a problem came up, we creatively developed a solution together. Things seemed to fall into place.
On days when she was out of the office, peers told me I “wasn’t myself”, but I knew when she was back, we’d be planning a reunion lunch at our favorite place, Taziki’s.
See, she brings out the best in me. She pushes me to achieve more, be more, do more. Linda introduced me to new ERO groups (Employee Resource Organizations) and connections she made during her time in the LiFT program. I never thought I’d be able to work with one of my best friends, and it is one of the many things I love about Cisco. Soon the title “Dynamic Duo” trended around the office. We became the Dynamic Duo of Capital. Recently for year-end, Capital organized themed days like “Decade Wednesday” and “Superhero Friday.” While everyone sported their Superman, Wonder Woman, or Spiderman shirt, we created our own costumes… “The Dynamic Duo of Finance.”
Maybe I’m biased, but Linda has a personality and the knowledge that any manager would be lucky to have on their team. I can’t thank her enough for supporting me not only in my professional life, but personal. She frequently attends my Rugby matches and cheers on her “Mambo No. 5” as she calls me.
However, life is about change, and Linda’s life changed to bring her husband a new job in a new state. My bestie is moving, and moving on. But that’s the great thing about Cisco, her Cisco family supports her decisions and still thinks of her as a part of our team, and she can grow in a new Cisco team that allows her to work from her new location. We are still the dynamic duo, just in a different way. I wanted to honor her and thank her for all the accomplishments she has brought to Cisco Capital, but on a personal note, all the happiness she has brought me.
What I’ve learned within my 2 years at Cisco is that Cisco encourages its employees to be authentic and be true to themselves. I’m inspired every day to work with genuine and motivational colleagues like Linda who make me more myself. I recently heard a quote from Selisse Berry that stayed with me. “I believe that no one should ever have to choose between a career we love and living our lives with authenticity and integrity.” I feel lucky that I do not have to choose. The Dynamic Duo wants to be an example to other Cisco employees that every day, when you’re authentic, it’s an opportunity to learn something new, meet someone new, inspire someone, or simply make someone’s day. As Linda says, with her Colombian accent and in her best Shia LaBeouf Voice: “Just do it.”