Linas Dauksa Thrives Where Work and Volunteerism Intersect

Photo of Linas checking engino oil
Linas (third from left) performing the biweekly check of the Network Emergency Response Vehicle (NERV) with DIRT volunteers Terry Hoffman (left) and Chase Nebeker (middle).

Interesting things happen when you go beyond yourself in life—through volunteering, for example. Just ask Linas Dauksa, a Cisco marketing manager who volunteers to support disaster preparedness response. Toronto-born Linas works with Disaster Incident Response Team (DIRT), a group of trained Cisco volunteers worldwide who support Cisco Tactical Operations (TacOps). We sat down with Linas to find out more about what he does, and what it means to him.

Tell us about your volunteering efforts.

Working at Cisco, you get unbelievable opportunities to do very interesting things throughout the world. There tends to be a lot of overlap between my volunteering work and my full-time job. This is also true of my work with DIRT, which is a group of trained Cisco volunteers worldwide who support TacOps and can respond quickly during crises.

What we learn during deployments, we feed back to the product teams to improve our products. Sometimes we’ll even close on a sale because we’re there with the right people. That’s not at all what we intended to do, but it’s a great part of doing the right thing. Cisco’s use of our unique talents for volunteering is critical to bring maximum value and is good for the company. (Read my blog about how to use your core skills to maximize your volunteering efforts and benefit everyone.)

What’s your day job at Cisco?

I’m an engineer by training, with a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto, but I’ve been in marketing for the past 15 years. At Cisco, I’m a marketing manager for Sales Acceleration. Our team accelerates personalized systems that help identify opportunities with the right content to track a customer’s journey towards a sale. The key to selling more is creating unique content and finding ways to get to the right information, to the right salesperson, just in time.

Photo of Rick Santina and Terry Hoffman
DIRT team members Rick Santina and Terry Hoffman supporting the Emergency Operations Center for Super Bowl 50.

How does Cisco nurture your creativity?

The company value that means the most to me is Make Innovation Happen, which feeds the creative part of my brain. During DIRT deployments, the one thing I can guarantee is things will not go as planned, so duct tape will always be required no matter how much planning and experience exists.

Cisco and my management team help me keep my creative side sharp by encouraging me to produce compelling written and visual (photo and video) content for our sales teams. It’s great having the opportunity on an ongoing basis to do creative work along with deep analytical work.

What are some of your highlights during your five years with Cisco?

One was supporting Super Bowl 50 as part of a TacOps DIRT deployment. We were part of a team of more than 40 governmental organizations ensuring that we could help keep people safe in the case of a major emergency. (More on this here.) The TacOps DIRT volunteers bring so many strengths to the team. I have a marketing slant, while others possess their specific product expertise, technical know-how and governmental contacts. We succeed as a result of our joint skills and knowledge. All Cisco full-time employees can volunteer for the DIRT team. You don’t need to be technical – sometimes we just need help in packing and lifting boxes before a deployment.

Another highlight was running the Meraki Challenge and bringing in $52 million in bookings. And I’d have to include having the opportunity to do creative work on an ongoing basis along with deep analytical work—balancing the creative with engineering.

This summer, you went to France and Las Vegas for Cisco. Please share some memorable moments from those trips.

During a customer appreciation event at Cisco Live in Las Vegas, I spent more than an hour talking with Steve Hellmuth, the NBA’s Executive Vice President for Media Operations and Technology. How cool is that?

And during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France, I met a team that is going to put a rover vehicle on the moon in 2017. They are so innovative and they love Cisco. As a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut—and Cisco is giving me an opportunity to reach for the stars. So now I am looking for ideas for how we can make the moon mission relevant for Cisco and then present our ideas to the moon rover team. Let’s see where this goes.

At Cisco, we’re developing a world without boundaries; if you have a great idea, you can run with it and make a difference in the world. So if anyone has interesting ideas on what we can do with the rover with regard to networking, please reach out to me. We can all reach out to the stars.

Linas with moon rover at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Carlton Wildfire Deployment, left to right: Rob Kelly, Rakesh Bharania,Terry Hoffman, and Chandler Johnson.
Chandler Johnson and Terry Hoffman setting up at the Carlton wildfire, the largest fire in Washington state history.
TacOps and DIRT volunteers configuring the Emergency Communications Kit. From left to right: Terry Hoffman, Ron Snyder, Chase Nebeker, and Jason Hoac.

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