Feature Story

Cisco execs flex their muscles to fill plates

by Kirsten Chiala

Cisco execs flex their muscles to fill plates

Cisco's executive leadership team showed its might last week, squaring off in the annual food sort challenge.

The boxes stood ready. The pallets were in place. And anticipation filled the air at Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose. Which team of executives would pack the most boxes of food in the 14th annual challenge?

The event is part of Cisco's #BeTheBridge campaign supporting more than 1,900 nonprofits around the globe.

Despite being one of the wealthiest areas of the world, Second Harvest says 1 in 10 people in Silicon Valley are hungry, and rely on supplies from the food bank every month.

Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest says the partnership between the agency and Cisco runs deep, with employees donating 1.4 million dollars and 5200 hours of time last fiscal year.

This event is close to the heart of SVP of Operations at Cisco, Rebecca Jacoby. As executive sponsor of the #BeTheBridge Campaign, Jacoby says Cisco employees are creating an "atmosphere of hope."

CEO Chuck Robbins said being at the food bank really gave perspective. He told the group there are people in the Valley who don't know where their next meal will come from, and he's thankful Cisco employees have a chance to help fill that gap.

And in this case, they had 75 minutes to do just that. They divided into three teams and got down to heavy lifting. 

Robbins headed up one team, Jacoby was captain of another, and SVP and GM of Cisco's IoT and Applications Rowan Trollope rallied a third.

The teams packed boxes with all the supplies for a family of four. That included bags of rice, cans of tuna, peanut butter and bags of beans.

The pace was non-stop. Box after box was folded, delivered, sent down the assembly line, packed, sealed and then stacked.

Chief Digital Officer Kevin Bandy summed up the feeling of the event when he said the food sort and the #BeTheBridge campaign is core to being part of the Cisco family- and part of the People Deal, which promises to benefit everyone.

In the end, team Robbins took home the victory. But it was a celebration of team work that really counted, especially when the final numbers came in. Each team packed 500 boxes of food, or 10 thousand pounds, for a total of 30 thousand pounds!