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How Two Cisco Ladies Leaned In and Supercharged Their Careers

Worldwide Ladies in Engineering Day gives us with the chance to acknowledge the work and achievements of ladies engineers all internationally. At the moment I have fun all of our Cisco Ladies in Engineering by spotlighting two extraordinary girls, Priya Aiyer and Christelle Mombo-Zigah. Each share their profession journeys, together with their expertise taking part in Cisco’s Exemplar Various Feminine Mentee program which has been sponsored by Cisco SVP and Common Supervisor Alistair Wildman and can proceed beneath Cisco SVP Buyer Expertise (CX) Americas Harry Caldwell.

Priya Aiyer: A ardour for course of enchancment

Priya Aiyer

Priya Aiyer is a System Engineering Chief who has been a know-how chief for greater than 15 years at Cisco. She started her profession in India as a individuals chief and transitioned to customer-facing buyer expertise roles in america. With a deal with know-how transformation and companies, she supported prospects throughout service suppliers, enterprises, and the general public sector. Later, she moved to Gross sales management. Cisco is an organization that gives many careers, and Priya has skilled these in her journey.

“I knew I used to be fascinated about a customer-facing function, however on the enterprise unit, I used to be restricted in what I may do,” says Priya.

Priya at all times knew that she needed to land a customer-facing function. Her ardour for course of enchancment, for addressing gaps and for offering end-to-end options was acknowledged with a supply excellence award.  She is an energetic member of Ladies of Cisco and presently, she leads the Chicago chapter of the Ladies in Science and Engineering. The inclusive neighborhood is concentrated on making a optimistic affect within the lives of ladies and women in STEM fields inside and outdoors of Cisco. She is obsessed with supporting girls early of their careers and connecting them to alternatives.

Participation in Cisco’s SVP and Common Supervisor Alistair Wildman’s mentee program vastly expanded Priya’s community. As part of the mentee program, Priya and different mentees had been launched to every of the senior management workforce members and he or she’s grateful to have had the chance to listen to from senior executives about their management journeys.

“Once I take into consideration mentoring and sponsoring, it’s a journey,” says Priya.

“Every of the mentors gave me a special perspective and shared helpful nuggets that helped me broaden my very own perspective and helped me in my management journey,” she added.

Christelle Mombo-Zigah: A life-long learner

Christelle Mombo-Zigah

Christelle is a Buyer Success Americas Regional Chief who has labored at Cisco for 9 of her 15 years as knowledgeable. Christelle started her profession in France the place she was born and raised and labored in a number of industries, together with luxurious items, shopper items, and banking. She began her journey in know-how at Cisco Meraki for 4 years earlier than transferring to Gartner. She then returned to Cisco to affix M&A integration. She later discovered her present dwelling in Buyer Expertise (CX). Her first function in CX was as a Success Program Supervisor in GES West earlier than being promoted to the function of Buyer Success Americas Regional Chief.

With greater than 15 years of expertise in gross sales, enterprise improvement, M&A integration, and buyer expertise in varied industries, Christelle has taken benefit of quite a few skilled improvement alternatives at Cisco and past.

Having at all times considered her profession as that of a common supervisor, Christelle knew that what she wanted was to be taught from completely different enterprise capabilities, improve her management expertise, her visibility, and publicity. She participated in Cisco’s Subsequent Technology Chief program designed to assist underrepresented minorities develop management expertise. She additionally participated within the firm’s Bounce Ladies’s Management Program, the Govt Shadow Program yearly and within the Multiplier Impact, which leverages sponsorship to foster variety and inclusion and speed up the pipeline of various expertise throughout the tech trade.

She was additionally an energetic member of the Related Black Skilled (CBP) worker useful resource group (ERO), the place she served as a co-lead of the San Jose chapter. She then joined the Ladies of Cisco San Jose Chapter management workforce together with the Accountable AI committee to align her work, values, and function.  By means of the CBP, she has mentored 10 to 12 early-in-career professionals yearly to offer again, carry as she climbs, and develop her individuals’s management expertise. Serving as a mentor additionally offers her a chance to know what her personal mentors count on from her.

A lifelong learner, Christelle accomplished Stanford’s LEAD program, an govt training program by way of the Stanford Graduate Faculty of Enterprise (Stanford GSB) the place she now serves as a course facilitator. This system proved to be a transformative expertise for her. She subsequently launched improvements at Cisco to resolve issues impacting buyer expertise by way of provide chain and cross-functional alignment and was quickly promoted.

Wish to supercharge your profession? Use Priya and Christelle’s 5 key takeaways

1. Have a transparent imaginative and prescient.

“Be intentional. Know your passions. Make your plan. Have a imaginative and prescient in your future and imagine in it and the universe will conspire to make it occur,” advises Priya. “This program has helped me construct my mentorship tree. I’ve mentors and sponsors throughout completely different verticals in addition to in business consequently.”

2. Be daring and brave.

When Cisco’s SVP of International Buyer Expertise Alistair Wildman joined the Americas from the EMEA area in 2018, Christelle reached out as a fellow European dwelling in america, to welcome him to Cisco’s Americas workforce and to let him know that she loved his All-Palms assembly. She additionally made positive to share her work in Buyer Success International Enterprise Gross sales West by cross-functionally aligning buyer success, gross sales, and renewals. She additionally shared her two improvements. Later, she was nominated to take part in Alistair’s Exemplar Various Feminine Mentee program in addition to Gross sales Champions 2022.

3. With mentors or sponsors, attempt to make the dialog as useful for them as it’s for you.

“If in case you have a mentor, at all times summarize what you be taught and ship a thanks observe,” says Priya.

“At all times comply with up and share your learnings. Share your perspective and your takeaways from these conversations. Probably the most essential is to be intentional together with your relationship together with your mentors and sponsors. It will go a great distance.”

4. Concentrate on sponsors, not simply mentors.  

“Most of my sponsors have come by way of the Govt Shadow program through which I shadowed and added worth,” mentioned Christelle. “One in all our executives was new. I used to be working in M&A so I may share insights on Cisco tradition, and our acquisitions integrations working mannequin [with him].”

Totally different from mentors, sponsors, “will use [their] personal capital to advocate in your behalf so you should be in a trusting relationship in order that they may characterize you properly and advocate for you while you’re not [in the room],” she continued.

“In any case, you’ll be able to enhance your skillsets by way of on-line studying by way of Coursera [and] LinkedIn Studying however tapping into the connection you develop with a sponsor two ranges above your personal is a useful asset with an amazing affect in your profession.

5. Make your work seen and get as concerned as potential with a wide range of packages. 

“[There are] many elements you’ll be able to’t management however having a sponsor in a job advocating for you, saying try to be thought-about is most essential,” says Christelle.

“One essential program I participated in was the Govt Shadow program. It helped me discover my mentors who then turned my sponsors. Get as concerned as potential with these packages. Make the most of these to be taught, develop your expertise, and construct relationships at Cisco.”


For those who’re seeking to take the next move, discover your own home at Cisco with



Take time to be taught extra about Cisco’s packages and communities:

Subsequent Technology Chief Program

Bounce Ladies’s Management Program,

Govt Shadow Program

The Multiplier Impact





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