“Nish, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Throughout my childhood years, my answer to this question changed more frequently than Apple releases new software updates. From pop star to air hostess to teacher to scientist and everything in between, I really was a chameleon child.
At age 17, the time came for me to choose the single subject I would study at university, and it was not easy. At the time, I thought Business Administration was a good broad topic which would buy me time to try out new things, make the use of my strengths and gain more experience – and that’s exactly what it did.
During my incredible four years studying at the Bath School of Management, I undertook several work placements. I first came across Cisco when applying for summer internships online, and after the surprisingly fun interview process (yes, the interview was fun), I was thrilled to be offered one of only a few spots on CSAP, Cisco’s prestigious Sales graduate programme.
Quite frankly, I barely even knew what Technology Account Management meant at the time, but I’d already fallen in love with the company culture and knew that Cisco would be a great place to work, so in true ‘Nish style’, I accepted the offer and jumped right in. Little did I know that Cisco would be the place where I would really kick-start my career and spend my early 20’s having the time of my life!
Moments That Matter
Cisco is one of those companies where incredible things happen on a daily basis. It’s a company spread across the world, but makes you feel like you’re all in the same room. A company that is the market leader and innovates at the speed of light, but you don’t feel the pressure because your job feels like a hobby. A company where you feel like you have 70,000 brothers and sisters, and regardless of reporting structures, you could reach out to any one of them.
Cisco is a company which operates seamlessly like a machine, yet feels so impressively human.
Earlier this year, I had the honor of attending the Cisco Executive Summit in San Diego with 450+ executives including our Executive Leadership Team. I spoke on stage about Our People Deal, our employee value proposition, which is at the heart of Cisco’s culture. There I met fourteen strangers from all around the world from Sydney to Beijing to Amsterdam to California, and we very quickly bonded to become the first ever cohort of Culture Ambassadors at Cisco.
In just 72 hours, I learnt so much from each of them; the different departments they work in from Operations to Sales, and Customer Service to Marketing and Services. I learnt what made them tick and what their frustrations were. I left in awe of fourteen incredible human beings.
On reflection, this happens to me very frequently at Cisco. I come across new people every day who I really admire and find inspiring, yet I struggle at first to pinpoint exactly why I think they are special, in addition to obviously being absolutely amazing at their jobs. My first and subsequent interactions with leaders such as El Cavanagh-Lomas, Karen Walker, David Ward, Wendy Mars, Fran Katsoudas, Woody Sessoms, and so many others are just some examples of this. I am writing this blog six months on from the Executive Summit, and I finally think I can pinpoint what special quality these exceptional people have.
They are all kind.
Small acts of kindness go such a long way. Take the People Deal Ambassadors. I could write an essay on each person and how they are lovely, kind human beings. I could do the same for the executives I mentioned too. But in the interest of your time, take a look at my map of kindness instead.
Small Moments, Big Impact
What these Executives, Culture Ambassadors and friends do is care. They care about the little things that really feel like big things, they care about those precious moments when life is tough. They put people first. It’s the small things, small moments that matter, that create significant experiences for us. It’s the day-to-day things such as letting people in when it’s your right of way on the road, sending a thank you note to show appreciation, being selfless and saying yes when you really want to say no – these are just some of the things I’ve started to do in an attempt to make the world a better place.
When I grow up (more) I want to be…
Like children who dream of becoming inventors, doctors, and artists – one thing I have in common with them is ambition. I would love nothing more than to lead people at Cisco, and I dream of bringing those people together to have a positive impact across the globe – maybe in Business Development, Human Resources, Marketing, Sales, or even by becoming CEO one day (don’t worry Chuck, that’s a while away!)
As I head into my 25th year, I am still being asked “Nish, what do you want to be when you grow up (more)?” I am so fortunate to be fascinated by so many different parts of Cisco that I don’t have a definitive answer. I don’t have a single specific career destination, but I am thrilled to work at a company where I can enjoy the journey and moments that matter along the way.
Despite not having a specific job title to aspire to right now, I am sure about some things. I intend to work hard, do my best, make an impact and a difference, and help others. Of course, Cisco encourages us to hold these very values close, in both our personal and professional lives. With this in mind, I suddenly don’t feel so lost anymore.
Now when people ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I have my answer.
First and foremost, I want to be kind.
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