Charlie Johnston

Senior Vice President, Conscious Leaders & Teams Cisco

Charlie Johnston is an executive and leadership expert who has devoted his career to serving teams and leaders at some of the largest technology companies. He helps organizations build inclusive and supportive environments where people and business can thrive.

He first learned the value of placing employees at the heart of business strategy from his grandfather—a prominent businessman in Scotland. His company took care of its people and they, in turn, took care of their customers. This early lesson in building an employee-centric workplace sparked Charlie’s career in human resources.

Charlie is currently the Senior Vice President of Conscious Leaders & Teams, the orchestrator behind leader and team development at Cisco. His organization seeks to uncover answers to challenging questions about people at work. How can we build, strengthen, or repair safety, inclusion, and trust within and across teams? What helps leaders serve their team members and collaborate with other leaders? How do we magnify the unique strengths that each person has to offer?

Prior to this, he led human resources for Cisco’s sales and marketing organization, which employed 18,000 people across 93 countries. He also served as the human resources regional leader for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Under his leadership, Cisco moved from Europe’s seventeenth best place to work to fourth within two years. He was also instrumental in designing Cisco’s People Deal, a framework that holds the company accountable for serving employees and holds employees accountable for giving their best. Before joining Cisco, Charlie spent ten years leading Human Resources functions at IBM.

Charlie is a fellow of the UK Institute of Personnel and Development, an association that champions better work and working lives. He lives in San Francisco, CA with his partner. As an out-and-proud LGBTQ+ leader, he strives to support people in showing up openly and authentically at work. He chases progress over perfection, sees power in vulnerability, and celebrates people doing what they love.  

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