About a year ago, I was sitting in a log cabin in Estes Park, Colorado surrounded by some of the most creative photographers I had ever met. As we bonded about our shared love for photography, we also made plans to take a trip to Guatemala and give back to some of the less fortunate schools in the area.

That week in Colorado I knew deep down that I was living in line with my passions and where I was supposed to be. What I didn’t know was that my job as a Strategy and Planning Business Development Manager for Cisco’s US Partner Organization would allow me to continue living out those passions and multiply them in a way that allows me to give so much more.

I have been at Cisco for almost 5 years and I’m proud to work for a company that shares so many benefits with their employees and allows them endless support when it comes to giving back.  But I sheepishly admit I had never really taken advantage of those benefits or understood how much support I truly had.  So, when a co-worker mentioned Cisco’s Time2Give initiative I knew I needed to know more.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this is a global offering for Cisco employees that enables us to take 5 days off (outside of our regular PTO days) to volunteer at a non-profit organization or school of our choice.

It sounds too good to be true – so much so that when I share the program with friends outside of Cisco they are usually shocked.  Not only does Cisco allow employees time off to volunteer, but they will even MATCH charitable contributions to approved non-profit organizations up to $10,000 each year.

Sign me up! I knew the opportunity to give back in Guatemala would be a perfect fit for my Cisco volunteer hours.

Soles4Souls is an organization I learned about while attending a photography workshop in Colorado. The more I learned about the mission of Soles4Souls, the more I knew I wanted to get involved. Additionally, I knew this would be a great opportunity to apply my passion for photography and document my trip. By partnering with Soles4Souls, we were able to give back while also providing photographs for the families and organization.

A year after that photography workshop in Colorado the group of us were packing our bags to head to Guatemala – a country none of us had been before.

During the majority of the trip we stayed in the beautiful city of Antigua and made trips to less fortunate schools during the day. In just five days we were able to give away over 440 pairs of shoes donated to us by various corporations.  The impact of 440 pairs of shoes is approximately $5,280.00 that the families of Guatemala don’t have to spend on their children.  We also gave the gift of printed photographs that we took throughout our stay.  Many of the families have never had photos of themselves taken and I will always remember the smiles from the mothers as they watched their kids seeing their photos printed.

From my trip I gained a new perspective, embraced the beauty of Guatemala and had the opportunity to serve others. I also realized that time is one of the greatest gifts we can give others.

Cisco provides many benefits for their employees, but our culture of giving back is truly special and one of our greatest pillars as a company.

In my role at Cisco I focus on education and enablement for our US Partner Organization. I am equipped to use my strengths every day, to work creatively, and to live in my dream location of Denver, Colorado.

Now I’m also able to give back to families across the world.

If those aren’t reasons to #LoveWhereYouWork – I don’t know what is.

Want to join a company that encourages giving back? We’re hiring. Apply now.


Ryan Varga

USPO – Enablement and Education

US Partner Organization – Strategy and Planning