Over the past year, we’ve all done our best to connect with our peers in a hybrid model. We’ve always had flexible working practices at Cisco, and a culture of trust that gives employees the confidence to make decisions about how they work. However, it’s important to make time for human connections and create space for people to meet.
Recognising this, the Cisco team are hosting its first ever ‘Teams Week’, which focuses on creating a more inclusive and collaborative future by employees taking the time to learn, grow and unlock their creativity (previously known as ‘Leader Week’). We thought it wouldn’t be a teams week without connecting with teams in Australia and New Zealand, and check in on how they’re going, and what’s top of mind for them.
Emma Harris, Australia and New Zealand Service Provider as a channel/ Ecosystem Leader, Brisbane
My team is focuses on our Partners and their development through both traditional and new routes to market. We’ve been working on developing new business streams through our Managed Service Providers. This is exciting time for all of us and really showcases the importance of teams wherever we are around the world. It has been great to share best practices across the different geographies to accelerate this practice.
Over the last year, I love the way the team has rolled their sleeves up and continued to move the business forward despite some of the uncertainty. The way they have supported their partners and customers through this time is amazing!
Teams week has been a great opportunity to connect closer to my team and my own personal development. It has been a while since we have done these activities so it is really great to see Cisco investing in our people. It shows what a great company we work for, especially as the way we work has evolved.
I personally liked to work in a hybrid model even before the pandemic. I am a people person so I do love being able to come together but I also find this distracting when working on tight timelines or needing the time to be creative and think of new ways of business.
Norman Fong, Network Systems Engineer, St Leonards
I am a network systems engineer in the IT Network Infrastructure Services group, part of a wider global team that designs, implements, and supports solutions for Cisco’s internal network infrastructure.
Reflecting on the last year, ‘absence makes the heart fonder’ as the saying goes. Being forced to work remotely made me and my team cherish whatever limited time we had for face to face meetings and get togethers even more, like the fun events and giving back events.
This week, I’ve really enjoyed taking time out to really focus on how to work better with my team – which involves a set of soft skills that are always there in the back of my mind. I loved learning about empathy, loved what Erica Dhawan shared about introverts vs. extroverts, digital natives vs. digital adapters, and different communication styles. I also took away what Jeetu Patel shared in the opening session when he said if our weaknesses are not detrimental to our working relationships, we don’t need to focus on completely getting rid of them – instead focus on our strengths, because when diverse people each bring their own strengths to the group, you have a really strong group.
I work in a global team with a diverse range of cultural nuances. The behaviours highlighted in Erica Dhawan’s digital body language talk really resonated with me because my team in APAC region often have great ideas that are not always communicated well to the US/EMEAR teams because of the differences in their preferred way of communication. Each group really needs to take time out to learn more about how the other group prefers to work, and interact accordingly to make our team even stronger as a whole.
Melanie Murray, Small Business Marketing Manager, Sydney
As the Small Business Marketing Manager for Cisco Australia and New Zealand, I sit within the marketing team and support the small business organisation by creating awareness and building preference amongst the small and mid-sized audience. Since joining the team in early 2020, I have had the opportunity to work on, and be apart of, some of the amazing campaigns that the ANZ Marketing team has managed. One that had a big impact on me, was the Lifeline Bridge to Possible story from the Brand team.
This story inspired me to do some research into Lifeline and suicide prevention in Australia, leading me to enrol in the 10-week crisis supporter training with my local Lifeline Centre. I have now completed my first few volunteer shifts with Lifeline and will be progressing to the next phase of the volunteer program. It is great that Cisco gives so much support to its people to explore these opportunities and volunteer to give back to their communities.
During teams week I enjoyed the sessions around leadership and team connection with a focus on compassion and empathy, especially the session with Brene Brown. Since training and working with Lifeline, I have a new view of the importance of self-care and empathy, not just how it relates to supporting someone in crisis, but also in leadership, positive team collaboration and avoiding burnout.
Ed Kim, Leader, Customer Delivery, Sydney
I lead Expert Care in Australia and New Zealand as part of the customer experience team.
Last week, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to get out of the Teams Week, and it seemed like a lot of time to invest with so much going on. After the first session, I started feeling great because I felt like I was really investing in myself. It was something that I haven’t done in a long time. But as I got through more sessions, I had a very emotional moment where I was taken back to why am I here? Why am I still working for Cisco, why am I leading the businesses that I look after? It was because of our culture. Teams week helped me to reflect on that.
I don’t think anyone can argue that last year was very challenging. When things are challenging, one of the things that happens is that we optimise. Not just optimising the business, but optimise how we collaborate, and interact. Sometimes, we put results first a bit far, and forget about how our actions impact others. I know that I have sometimes showed up in ways that I am I feel sad about. I feel the teams week helped me reset and re-orient myself. It has really given me the courage to look at myself and start the change from within.
Jackie Li, IT APJC Infrastructure Manager, St Leonards
I am Cisco IT’s APJC infrastructure manager. We are a global team that looks after connecting Cisco employees to the intranet and internet from the office, labs and home. My job is to work with a diverse skilled group of engineers to push out the latest technology into Cisco and then talk to our customer about how we did it and help them adopt our technology.
I remember getting a call during the Chinese new year and we needed to get the entire Cisco China team working from home. And we had one weekend to do it. I remember thinking at that point, “What if this spreads to the world?”.
At this point, I realised how connected we all are in this world. Covid has brought great sadness but it has also brought hope. Hope that was trending down before covid. Governments sharing information to save humanity, people wearing masks for other people sake, communities fighting for the vulnerable and love. I believe that Australia did really well because we care for each other.
I was amazed at the speakers Cisco brought in for teams week. It was fantastic to help my team start rethinking what culture we need to build. Letting the team have the power to build what culture they want to work in was a clear message from our executives. Working from home is the norm and we need to navigate how we do it better.
This year was about keeping things together. Keeping my family together in harmony. Keeping in touch with my friends and keeping my mind together. To do that, I explored more of Sydney hiking that in my entire life. Getting close to nature was the biggest stress relief.