1) Where did you start with Cisco, and where did it lead you?
I started my career in Cisco as an Associate Systems Engineer through the Cisco Sales Associate Program. We had one year of training in Singapore, where we were exposed to leading technologies and gained a lot of networking knowledge as well as some soft skills, such as presentation, customer engagement and problem solving skills. Now I have become a Virtual Systems Engineer, specializing in Service Provider architecture. My main job role is to provide pre-sales technical services for Cisco sales organizations and escalated partner requests.
2) Why did you join Cisco's graduate program? As a graduate at Cisco, what is the most valuable skill or piece of information you gained?
Cisco is the world leading IT networking company with incredibly high industry reputations and the one year international placement was really attractive to me.
The most valuable skill I have gained is "selling". As a future Systems Engineer, our main role is to use Cisco solutions to solve customer's challenges and bring real benefits to them. A good Systems Engineer should be equipped with technical knowledge as well as the ability to engage with customers effectively in order to convey information to customers concisely or in an easy to understand way. The Cisco Sales Associate Program has been designed to balance the technical training as well as sales skills development. We received a lot of training in how to conduct and lead a client meeting, how to interpret Cisco solutions into customer's business benefits, how to highlight Cisco solutions differentiations and how to handle customer objections. All these sales skills will be very beneficial for my future career development.
3) Why would you encourage a student to apply for a role at Cisco?
From the company itself, Cisco is an international company with employees from different countries and backgrounds, you get the chance to work with a multi-cultural and diverse workforce. You may also have overseas training opportunities or the possibility to work in a different country. Cisco also offers very flexible working environment, we are allowed to work from home once per week and you will get an additional one-day off on your birthday!
From personal career development perspective, Cisco offers a wide variety of training and you'll be updated about the latest industry trends. You also have the flexibility to choose where you want to go for your next career stage. There is no fixed career path and we are encouraged to apply for jobs in other departments within Cisco and you can even apply Cisco jobs in another country!
4) What are the highlights of your time at Cisco so far?
We were invited to Las Vegas to attend the annual Global Sales Experience event. It's my first time travelling to the US and I was so excited to meet my colleagues from all over the world. We learnt about the coming fiscal year priorities, Cisco strategy, and growth opportunities. As well as this, we celebrated the achievements of the previous year to get motivated, inspired and prepared for the coming year. It was a very unforgettable and amazing experience.
5) Describe a typical day at the office
I start my day around 9.00 am, during the early hours you will find me speaking to the partners or internal System Engineers, account managers in order to find out what their client's task requirements are and what questions they have about Cisco products and solutions. Whilst also talking with my colleagues to communicate the clients' needs and see how we can assist them. The rest of the day follows by updating the task status to the client, answering emails and calls, self-paced training and attending some internal WebEx meetings.
6) How did the graduate program prepare you for the next stage in your career?
I've gained a lot of networking knowledge from this graduate program. We have gone through 3-months of intensive technical training covering almost all the Cisco solutions and technologies. We also received training on how to deliver a better presentation, how to engage customers more effectively and how to deliver a demo to customers among many. For example, everyone had the chance to work in the Customer Experience Center for 3 or 6 months, where we have learnt how to deliver demos using Cisco's latest collaborations tools, how to communicate with customers during a and how to handle customer questions in a smart and positive manner. All the technical training along with the soft skill training has made me much better prepared for future challenges.
7) Why should today's graduates join the program?
Cisco is a great company to work for and invested a lot in the Cisco Sales Associate Program where we are treated really well. You will get lots of opportunities to learn, great career advice from your mentor, training from both internal and external trainers, the chance to work in a different country, the chance to configure real gears and stay ahead in industry trends! Act now and apply for the Cisco Sales Associate Program!