Cisco celebrates International Women's Day FEATURE

Observe Women's History Month and International Women's Day with Cisco at the annual Women of Impact event.

With the month of March celebrated as Women's History Month 2018, we recognize and support women around the world with our Women of Impact (WOI) Conference today, just one day ahead of International Women's Day 2018. WOI brought together over 15,000 Cisco employees, partners, and customers in over 100 locations all over the world. The theme of this year's event was "Coming Together for Change"—highlighting the need to work together to make a difference.

Director of Inclusion and Collaboration at Cisco, Maria Medrano, noted that the Cisco Women of Impact event was in its 16th hour, having been kicked off earlier by CEO Chuck Robbins in Israel. The event then went through to the Asia region, Europe, the Americas at Raleigh, North Carolina, and then at San Jose.

The event also invited young women from the Girls Power Tech initiative, Cisco's global mentoring program.

"We have 45 girls here who are a part of Girls Power Tech," said Medrano, "Women of Impact hosted young women in four different locations, Bangalore, Cambodia, Krakow, Singapore. Collectively we're hosting 5,000 young girls across the world."

The event at Cisco's San Jose campus began with a few words from Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Kelly Kramer, and Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer, Fran Katsoudas. Katsoudas spoke about the term "badassery" to describe the women at Cisco.

"We have so many badasses in the company," said Katsoudas, "Don't be afraid to be a badass—for your own development and the development of other women in the company. All of us are different, we all have different strengths. That will propel us forward—that's how you bring inclusion in the day-to-day dialogue."

A panel of cybersecurity experts, including Senior Vice President of Global Security and Enterprise Networking Sales, Dave Justice, and Security and Trust Organization leader, John Stewart, spoke about the need for women talent in cybersecurity.

"If I look at my career, the best teams I've been on have been very diverse," said Justice, "Cisco is doing a great job in terms of diversity but the cybersecurity industry is not."

The panel asserted the need for women working in the security sector, with 3.5 million unfilled jobs that will be in cybersecurity alone.

The security discussion continued with Distinguished Engineer and Senior Technical Advisor of Cisco IoT Michele Guel. The proclaimed "godmother of cybersecurity" and 22-year Cisco veteran gave an inspirational speech about not giving up.

"Atmospheres of competition don't work, we have to work together to overcome challenge," said Guel, "That's mentorship, that's having a voice, that's male advocates. When we pull our talents together we can be unstoppable. We can do a lot of things. We will make mistakes, fall down, but we must have the courage to get back up and keep moving forward. I challenge you all to look for the ordinary moments in life and turn them extraordinary."

The conference brought in a full house in San Jose, in rooms at Cisco Meraki and App Dynamics, plus viewers across the world. Globally, Cisco truly came together to mark the special occasion.

In a blog post, Senior Vice President of the Americas Worldwide Sales Alison Gleeson writes that the Women of Impact mission is "…To ‘attract, develop, retain and celebrate women as part of a competitive and diverse workforce.' To accomplish that goal, Connected Women, along with Cisco's Office of Inclusion and Collaboration and our sister organization Cisco Empowered Women's Network (CEWN) come together each year to hold our annual Women of Impact Conference."

To continue the celebration, Cisco will also be hosting a 24-hour Facebook Live event honoring International Women's Day by having women voices from Cisco speak about their careers and personal experiences. You can catch this livestream on March 8th here.


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About Stephanie Chan

Stephanie Ellen Chan is the Editorial and Video Producer at Cisco. She has a passion for writing about the intersection of culture, media, art, and technology.