Guest post by Hanane Lhannaoui, 2014 Emerging Leader from Morocco
It is impressive how simple things can colour our lives. Things like the first “like” on our Facebook post, the first time we follower we have on Twitter, and the first time we recognize what a router looks like.
I first learned about Cisco when I was twenty years old and I thought that Cisco meant routers only. I still remember that Cisco offered us the first true labs at school in my home country, and the opportunity to get our first academic certifications, CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate). I would have never thought that more than 10 years after, Cisco would again offer to me the opportunity to live one of the most unique experiences of my life. Moreover, that experience would happen in another place in the world, in Silicon Valley: the paradise of technology.
“My name is Hanane Lhannaoui. I am from Marrakech, Morocco and I am hosted by Cisco Systems.” This phrase launched a lifetime experience full of events, stories and people.
My story starts with Cindy Cooley, my mentor who, even before my arrival to San Francisco, introduced me to Cisco’s culture based on a commitment to excellence, collaboration, and innovation, but also diversity and a family spirit. Then, a few weeks later, I had the chance to experience, with her, what it means to “belong to the Cisco family.”
From the first day of my mentorship, I noticed that Cisco is huge. I had to switch between train stations, buildings and even geographical areas to get around the company campus. However, Cisco collaborative solutions, including Telepresence, WebEx, Jabber, etc. helped make those transitions smooth and easily link people not only in separate areas in San Francisco and Silicon Valley but also in different world zones.
The concepts B.Y.O.D. and S.W.Y.W.B. (bring your own device and settle where you can work better) are how Cisco advances the mobility of devices and offers its employees a diversity of choices. There are many spaces that can be used to increase productivity while keeping comfort during the work day. Employees can work in their own space, choose a quiet room, book a conference room or stay in one of the Cisco’ open spaces.
Cisco is not only huge in terms of space but also in terms of history, philosophy, and the richness of people. In fact, I had the opportunity to meet many amazing people in and out of the Cisco Value Chain IT team. At each meeting, I had to take advantage of the diversity of their background, their different skills, and their own philosophy. While diverse, however, all of their passions are aligned to Cisco’s vision and have metamorphosed the way they work, live, play and learn. One example is KC Wu, Vice President at Cisco Systems. She believes that commitment is one of the most important key to reach leadership. Additionally, a leader should always keep herself or himself updated, listen to the market and care about their team because the team is a reflection of themselves. A leader is always someone who should influence, lead change, and know how to act beyond boundaries.
During my mentorship, I also met Rebecca Jacoby, CIO of Cisco Systems. This kind of experience makes us step back and revise the stereotype in our mind-set: how can we be strong and humble in the same time? How can we have a successful career and put the family as a priority and how should we over all defend a cause. In one word, how can we make it? Meeting a women leader of this caliber at Cisco is one of the most unforgettable moments of my story at Cisco.
All in all, Cisco is a whole community in itself with its own TV system, Cisco TV, and also its own university Cisco University, its own Executive Briefing Center, its own set of social causes, which partners with Junior Achievement for an Innovation Camp and San Jose State University to host the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge. This challenge is focused on learning about and creating solutions based on the Internet of Everything or to invest in the community as well as the next generation, and of course, investing in the Cisco family.
My story with Cisco has taken the shape of a rainbow, each day has a different colour of learning and meeting people to learn about Cisco and Cisco IT. Finally, it’s also a one of a kind story I can share with everyone wherever I go: “Once upon a time, there was an Emerging leader from Morocco. She had an unforgettable experience being mentored at the 4th happiest company in the world for young professionals!”.
Hanane is an Computer Science Engineer and a PhD student. She received a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Communication Networks. She then began working at a governmental institution as a Network Administrator and Security Officer. After six years of managing network and security projects, she started a new position as an IT Auditor. She holds ITIL Foundation and COBIT certifications. Hanane has two years’ experience leading IT internal audit missions. Alongside her work, she is preparing her PhD on risk-aware business process management. In her spare time, Hanane enjoys with experimenting everything, from cuisine workshops to foreign languages. She can speak Arabic, French, English, and Spanish. She also likes travelling, discovering other cultures, reading books, and writing poems.