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One of the most common stereotypes of 2020? Everyone living in today’s world has a short attention span. We like getting our information in tweets and texts, we like TV that’s released all in one day, and we’re job hopping at a rate that’s never been seen before. But Strategy Business Analyst Alisha Ghosh has defied the stereotypes — and she says her great experience at Cisco is to blame.
Ghosh has found a career path that she’s not planning to leave any time soon. She reports that her two year journey at Cisco has provided her with plenty of opportunities to grow — from solving interesting business questions to having the room to make serious mistakes. Her role keeps her curious and encourages her to grow, and the community she’s found at Cisco backs up her efforts.
In this feature, Ghosh takes some time out of her day to share more about her career journey, her advice for women in tech and what makes her love working at Cisco.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been in my current role full-time for two years, but I also interned in the same role for a year prior to starting at Cisco full-time. Before Cisco, I was a student studying Management and Finance at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Why Cisco? How did you come onboard?
I started at Cisco as a summer intern after my junior year of college and quickly fell in love with Cisco’s culture. Everyone is friendly, supportive and willing to help one another. I noticed that there was an “open door policy” with everyone in the company (including the executives), and that openness attracted me to Cisco. When given the opportunity to come back full-time after I graduated, I took it!
What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?
The first thing I do at work is grab a cup of coffee from one of our cafes and look at my calendar for the day. I block my “think time” in my calendar between the meetings and brainstorming sessions I have for the day.
The last thing I do is check off a few items on my “to-do list” (anything that will take me no more than two minutes to complete) and respond to any emails I didn’t get to that day so I end the day feeling accomplished before heading to our fitness center for a workout.
What’s the most unique or interesting aspect of your job or company?
I get to solve high-level problems that are helping drive Cisco’s digital transformation from a hardware-focused company to a software-focused company. We’re changing the way we do business to put the customer at the forefront of everything and it’s really amazing to be a part of that change firsthand.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about your company that you think they should?
There’s a lot of opportunity at Cisco to grow professionally. As long as you’re willing to put in the work, you’re able to pursue that path that you’d like in the company. No one will tell you not to do something that you’re passionate about pursuing.
What’s something you’re especially good at work?
Networking! I love meeting new people and getting to know my colleagues better. I find that forming personal relationships is just as important as forming professional ones. I also find that you can learn so much about a different role or different part of the company just from a quick conversation with someone you might not work with every day.
What about outside of work?
I’m good at taking time for myself every day. Whether it’s working out, reading a book or grabbing dinner with a friend, I always take the time for some R&R. Without taking time for myself, I wouldn’t be able to bring my best self into work.
What are you trying to improve on?
Feeling comfortable in ambiguity. I’m the type of person who likes to have control (or at least the notion of it), but a lot of the work I do is embedded in ambiguity, so I’m constantly trying to feel comfortable in the uncomfortable.
What’s your favorite mistake?
My favorite mistakes happen when I’m learning something new. Recently, I’ve been doing more data analysis at work and have made mistakes as I’m synthesizing data in Excel. Instead of getting bogged down by these mistakes, I used this as an opportunity to check my work with colleagues and learn. And now, I’m much more confident in this new skill!
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
I noticed a lack of early-in-career talent in my organization and knew something had to be done, so a few months into my full-time role, I pushed to lead our undergraduate internship program (separately from my day-to-day job). I planned, executed and expanded the program, increased our intern and full-time early-in-career talent pipeline and forged strong connections with executive leadership from being in a high visibility role. I’ve also gained managerial experience as someone who’s still early-in-career, which has been a fantastic learning opportunity.
What do you love most about your job or your company?
My job is to solve ambiguous business problems; it’s incredibly challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. And at Cisco, I love the people! Collaboration is the key to our success, and I work with people who challenge me to do better every day.
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
I just finished reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed and am now reading “Blink” by Malcom Gladwell. I’m watching “Madam Secretary” and listening to “How I Built This” with Guy Raz and Freakonomics Radio.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
Look for a company that aligns with your personal values where you can bring your authentic self to work every day. Don’t compromise on your values or yourself for a job.
Who is/was the most influential person in your life and why?
I don’t have one influential person in my life. Rather, I’m influenced by the many strong, brave women around the world who have worked and are working to break the glass ceiling – like Gloria Steinem, Malala Yousafzai, Indra Nooyi, Emma Watson, the Silence Breakers… the list goes on. I take bits of inspiration from each one of them. And, of course, I’m greatly influenced by the two strong women in my immediate life – my mother and my sister.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Earlier this year, I had the incredible opportunity to shadow Cisco’s CFO Kelly Kramer (see my Life at Cisco blog post about it here) and she told me to not be afraid of getting fired, meaning I shouldn’t be afraid of taking bold risks and sharing my opinion. Shifting my mindset in this way has allowed me to worry about the little things less and focus on the big picture more.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
Humility. The best bosses understand that their team isn’t going to be successful unless they give opportunities to their team members to showcase their hard work and put their team’s needs ahead of their own needs.
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