CSO Women’s Professional Development Day: Celebrating 5 Years!

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Executive Platform

– September 25, 2017 – 4 Comments

We recently celebrated our 5th Annual Women’s Professional Development Day on Thursday, August 31st, sponsored by Cisco’s Corporate Strategy Office (CSO). Our theme for this year’s event was Making Empowerment Happen. The invite-only event drew over 600 internal and external attendees, including members of the Cisco Empowered Women’s Network and employees from over 50 customers and partners including Google, Fidelity Investments, Dimension Data, Ericsson, GE Ventures, and Oracle.

This year’s Development Day was aimed to inspire both women and men within the Cisco community to embrace and foster empowerment in the personal and professional lives of themselves and others. The agenda included thought-provoking speakers who shared learnings about career development, personal brand, executive presence, and influencing others.

Spoken word poet Sarah Kay and New York Times best-selling author Cy Wakeman, each delivered a powerful morning keynote, covering themes such as recognizing breakthroughs and ditching the drama that happens in a workplace. This was followed by an energizing roundtable panel with Cisco’s Liz Centoni, SVP & GM of Computing Systems Product Group, Paul Chiswell, Senior Director of Services Engineering Allignment & Co-Innovation, and Jason Goecke, VP & GM of Cognitive Collaboration and Spark Platform. The agenda also included empowered leader Ted-style talks with Ana Corrales from Google and Fabiana Lacerca-Allen of Ethiprax LLC. The day wrapped with an inspiring and motivational afternoon keynote by Grace Killelea, best-selling author of The Confidence Effect.

The event closed with attendees being asked to take action by taking their learnings and sharing them with others. Some of the learnings that were shared included:

  • Know your worth.
  • Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.
  • Stop judging, start helping.
  • Never underestimate power of breakthroughs.

One of my favorite quotes of the day came from Karen Ashely, VP of Corporate Development and my co-host for the day, who said “empowered women, empower women”. I’d like to hear from you what steps you’re taking to foster diversity and inclusion so we can all be empowered. Join the conversation on Twitter.


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  1. Akram Hosseinzadeh

    October 1, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Elaine Goodman

    September 27, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Thank you Hilton, Karen and Cisco leadership for your commitment to empowering all for their own development. One of my favorite takeaways from the day: “Be engaged, be inspired..but take action.”

  3. Heidi McBurney

    September 26, 2017 at 5:43 am

    Thank you for sharing about this; I loved the take-away about “stop judging, start helping.” Definitely something we all need to practice.

  4. Fredrick Da-Costa

    September 25, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I honestly agree with the quotes from Karen Ashely, VP of Corporate Development and your co-host for the day, who said “empowered women, empower women”. This is laudable. Thank you.