An exercise of expression!

My top 5 Cisco moments from 2019!

There is something about Cisco that I cannot express. Everyone at work and my friends know how much I love this company. A lot of people ask reasons for this “love and pride” I have for Cisco. I started thinking about this and all I had to do was list down everything that I did or happened to me at Cisco in the last one year! There is so much that I was able to contribute to and learn from, that my love towards the company grew multi-fold. Here is the sneak peak of things that I did in the last one year –

Hire, Train, Mentor.

Pictures from one of the new hire trainings

One of the key themes for me in 2019 was grooming young talent. Empowering young people has always been my passion in life. There is a certain joy in helping people and guiding them in the right path. And when they grow up to become something, there is a sense of accomplishment. At the tail end of 2018, I delivered one new hire training on fundamentals of networking and I loved doing that. I asked my management for more and what came was unprecedented.

In 2019, I spent more than a quarter (3 months) of my time delivering new hire trainings, interviewing candidates and mentoring early in career engineers. In total, I delivered 8+ weeks of training, interviewed 100+ candidates, mentored 50+ engineers over the year. What’s best? I discovered a completely new person in me. Training and mentoring helped me as a person significantly. Patience, anticipation, gauging the mood of an audience, able to put myself in the other person shoes – the qualities that I discovered / rediscovered!

Cisco Idea’thon

We often say that the best companies are the best because of the talent they hire and hold onto. I feel, we at Cisco did a lot of things in the right direction in this aspect in 2019. One of the significant steps we took in this direction is the “Cisco Idea’thon” – our first ever open hiring event.

Kick starting the event in September, it indeed was a marathon with an overwhelming response. We had about 5000 students registering across 75 colleges, with 1000+ video submissions. Working with the team in designing the selection framework, screening the candidates was a very immersive experience. Many video submissions were amazing and I am very excited to work with some of these youngsters in 2020 to further their project ideas at Cisco.

Learning and Development

“Sharpen the Saw” is often in the books but never executed to perfection. I made a few corrections last year and put in conscious learning hours. There were two significant personal milestones – Completion of my distance learning PG in Internet of Things (Cisco sponsored) and the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” corporate training.

The “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” is a total transformational framework. I must admit that I haven’t fully adopted the learning but from whatever I did so far, the results have been amazing. Being proactive, putting first things first, seek first to understand, sharpen the saw are 4 habits that I put to work and I see a significant change in my efficiency and effectiveness on any task that I take up.

The PG program in IoT helped me get into hands-on IoT experimentation. I always read about what IoT is and what impact it can have on our everyday life but never worked hands-on. In the one year PG program, I was able to experiment with few sensors, work on real life projects and gain understanding of the working and the scope of IoT. Hopefully, will get to work more in this space going forward.

I was able to put in at least 200+ hours of conscious learning and Cisco invested about 4500 USD for my learning and development.

Time to Give

A big part of the last decade for me was giving back. Having worked with multiple NGOs since my college days, this has become a part of my life. And giving back is at the core of Cisco’s culture as well. As a Cisco employee, I get up to 5 days (40 hours) per calendar year, with pay, to give my time to a cause that matters. I was able to spend this time to volunteer with We, The People. I plan to use the 5 days every year henceforth.

Leader Connect

In my opinion, leadership is about inspiration. When I started with Cisco, I vividly remember every all hands that John Chamber, the then CEO, hosted. His talk would totally mesmerize me and inspire me to do more. I was also fortunate to have worked with some of the best managers over the years. The difference in 2019 was that I was able to connect with a lot of senior leaders and got opportunities to interact with them in person, ideate with them and execute plans with them.

With Tom Berghoff, SVP Cisco.

Interacting with my directors, VP, and SVP has helped me understand every situation from both employee and employers perspective. I am now able to comprehend every decision taken inside the company and help my colleagues come up to speed with some of the changes that are happening around. When they said “the door is always open, come up and speak”, I wanted to check and it really was open πŸ™‚

All these conversations enabled me to practice “everyday leadership” at work and life in general.

All in all, it was another excellent year at Cisco and the forecast for 2020 is even better. What are the top 5 things from your 2019 at work? Do share your thoughts in the comments!

PS: Writing down the annual journal is a ritual for me. With so much talk around everyone wanting to be an entrepreneur and memes of how people hate working in IT or for companies, I wanted to pen down a work specific journal of a happy 2019 at Cisco. We all have bad moments at work, but I am pretty sure we have our share of good things too! Hoping that this work specific year journal will help you reflect on your 2019 and feel happy about the good that happened. Have a great 2020.

6 comments found

  1. Having just walked into Cisco, everything around me was so overwhelming. I had my fair share of doubts and confusion over how things will be in this great organization.
    That 8+ week of training under you was the best way to have stepped into my corporate life.
    Thanks for being our mentor since then! (:

    P.S: Will reach out to you with more doubts after FTD training :p

    1. Thanks Loyo for the kind words. I am glad I was able to help you all.
      You know the answer for the PS part πŸ˜‰

  2. I’ve just lamented my thoughts of not being able to attend trainings by you ! Thanks to the software development engineer post I have got placed into !
    Do make time to take some sessions for our bu too !

    1. Hi Lekha,
      Life always has things that are under our control and things that are outside of our control. If we focus on aspects where you can do nothing about, it would be like putting in efforts to push a wall (you know the result). Try focusing on aspects that are within your control and life will only get better.

      As far as the training for your unit is concerned, we can always facilitate it based on the need.

  3. It was great content Anna .I’m glad that i found this site.
    myself Trying to get a ticket to enter into Cisco (Seriously influenced by you). Can you give any tips to crack Cisco Ideathon 2020 .

    1. Hi Mansi,
      I am glad this inspired you πŸ™‚ For any university hiring, including the Ideathon, we look at how active and relevant the students are with the current technology.

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.