Alphonsine Imaniraguha Anderson has learned firsthand that happy people mean good business.
As a Customer Success Specialist at Cisco, one of the top-rated companies for women on Fairygodboss, Alphonsine says she’s given the space to “remain challenged, creative… and constantly exposed to various technologies and career opportunities.” That’s saying a lot, given she’s spent the entirety of her career at the company.
Cisco’s supportive, interesting culture allows her to develop not only knowledge on both the tech she manages and her customers — but also lets her learn about herself and her leadership style. As a result, she’s navigated her career like a pro and landed exactly where she believes she’s meant to be.
In this interview, Alphonsine takes some time out of her day to share more about her career journey, advice for women in tech and what makes her love working at Cisco. She also shared the qualities of an excellent leader and the perspective-changing book on leadership she’s reading right now.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I just started my new role as a Customer Success Specialist in November 2019. Before that, I had been a Global Enterprise Segment Consulting Engineer since 2016.
Why Cisco? How did you come onboard?
I was exposed to the Cisco lab during my graduate studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology and instantly knew I wanted to work at Cisco. The idea of connecting people and things sounded exciting to me and that led to me applying through our school’s career portal that was managed by the Cisco University Relations program. During one of the career fairs, I received the opportunity to interview and was later offered a position at Cisco!
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
I start my day by reading my work emails and aligning myself with the day ahead. At the end of every day, I check my calendar to see how I can best prepare for the next day.
What’s the most unique or interesting aspect of your job or company?
The ability to remain challenged, creative, innovative and constantly exposed to various technologies and career opportunities. I also love that at Cisco, we have the ability to balance our ‘work life’ and ‘personal life’ – we’re seen as humans here and that goes much deeper than what we do (and who we are) between the hours of 9-5.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about your company that you think they should?
There are many benefits available to Cisco employees. 40 hours every year (outside of our PTO) to give back to causes we’re most passionate about, emergency time off (because life happens and Cisco understand that), our birthday off (to celebrate us), and family assistance programs for employees and their family members are a few of my favorites that come to mind.
What’s something you’re especially good at while at work?
I love being a trusted advisor to our customers.
What about outside of work?
I care deeply about others and I work hard to make the world a better place.
What are you trying to improve on?
Speaking up; I sometimes sit back and let others share their opinions and ideas over what I may be thinking of. As an introvert, I would rather be quiet.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
My current role. Starting in a brand-new organization, on a new team and with new people, after being part of the Global Enterprise Segment for a few years. It’s a thrilling experience and challenge, and I’m excited that at Cisco you can have multiple careers all at the same wonderful company.
What do you love most about your job or your company?
Of my job, I love the flexibility we have to work remotely. We’re encouraged to be creative, seek out challenges, always be learning and to make our customers happy — all while having some incredible benefits.
Of Cisco, I love that we have a conscious culture, we promote employee’s well-being and we support a culture and working environment where people are free to be themselves. They feel empowered and cared for. This is a workplace that puts employees first and winning business second, which I believe is the key ingredient to our success. Happy employees deliver results!
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
Lots of things! I am always reading tech material around trending technologies; currently, I’m reading on topics such as Software Defined Access, Intent Based Networking and Cisco Digital Network Architecture. For my personal reading, I’m reading “Nonprofit Management 101” and Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom.”
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
Figure out what makes you stand out in the crowd — that’s your weapon. You are as good as anyone else. You absolutely can do it!
Who is or was the most influential person in your life and why?
My parents. From the 13 years that I got to know them, I learned how to be confident at a very young age (they believed in me, and that I could do anything I set my mind to). They were honest with us, compassionate, faithful and loved everyone unconditionally. If there is a quality I possess, I absolutely inherited it from the best of parents.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Don’t be afraid to take risks and believe in yourself. Don’t get too comfortable. Remain challenged and relevant.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
It’s very hard to pick just one quality; I have had the greatest of bosses here at Cisco. Empathy, honest feedback, and someone who trusts you and has your back.
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