One day into the 2013 Cisco Live and things are already looking up. On Sunday, Cisco held its first networking event for their newly launched Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (Cisco EWN). The event boasted a number of panels and discussions driven by various leaders in the industry. 

Cisco billed the event as a global community of highly motivated women who can connect at Cisco Live. The event was all that and more. A variety of topics were discussed, including; leadership perspective, on the ground experiences, and personal branding.

Among the highlights of the event was the panel discussion moderated by Shari Slate, Cisco’s Chief Inclusion and Collaboration Strategist. Speakers included Rebecca J. Jacoby, Cisco’s Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President, IT and Cloud and Systems Management Group, as well as Maria Teresa Lensing, AT&T Vice President, Signature Group.

Both speakers discussed a wide range of motivational topics, but their passion for leading was apparent. Each shared their experiences, where they started, and how they get into leadership. For Jacoby, it started at a flea market in San Jose where she worked engraving Jewelry. Lensing launched from packing and unpacking boxes of technology products.

Leadership goes beyond simply being in charge, or being the boss. It is crucial to realize how important “self awareness” is, and to understand the value of feedback. Lensing added, “If you put yourself in a box, you limit yourself. Don't put yourself in a box!”

The women were very open as they shared their personal experiences with the audience, and encouraged interaction. During the branding exercise, the audience was asked about their personal branding. They were given a list of adjectives to choose from, including; Energy, Coach, and Team player. Volunteers in the audience then shared what their position is, what company they work for, and the adjectives that describe them best. 

To be able to see the audience identify with whom they are, and who they want to be, was inspiring. At one point, an audience member inquired about finding a mentor, even if there wasn’t one at her company. Without skipping a beat, both speakers identified potential mentors for the woman that were present in the audience. 

The event was all about connections, and connecting women to a network of professionals. Seeing such dedication to growth is truly uplifting. We look forward to supporting this movement further in the future. What are your thoughts on CEWN?