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Instant Impact: New Hire Karina Fariña
First impressions last. And it goes both ways. For new hire Karina Fariña Fernández, her first few months at Cisco have been a whirlwind of activity, learning and fun—that’s left her excited, fulfilled and a little breathless. She’s already made a dent, too. She won Early Career Network Impact Month in March.
Karina is a telecommunications engineer who moved to Madrid, Spain, from her native Venezuela in 2015. She set about getting her MBA while continuing to work for Spanish telecom giant Telefónica. Then Cisco came calling with an offer she couldn’t refuse: the Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP). This yearlong training program helps develop young talent for careers in sales or engineering, with the goal of becoming an account manager at Cisco.
As a techie, Karina already knew a little about Cisco. She knew we were a market leader in the IT sector, but her first few months with us have been an eye-opener.
“Cisco has a more competitive culture than I expected,” says Karina, a self-described creative people person. “It’s also more flexible and younger than I expected. And it’s fun—I really enjoy the group of people I’m with.”
Karina joined Cisco last July after making it through a 6-week interview process that comprised 4 different stages—interview, role-play, presentation and technical test. “I had to go into every stage well prepared,” she recalls. “What I appreciate the most was that there was feedback at every step of the process.”
Before her first day on the job, she was introduced to her future team members in Amsterdam through Webex sessions and social media.
Moving to the Netherlands
The first part of the CSAP training was a 5-month boot camp. Karina spent her first two days in Amsterdam immersed in a packed agenda hearing from CSAP alumni and Kim Pasche, senior director of Global Virtual Sales EMEAR. She also got some social time, so she was able to get to know her fellow trainees—a large cohort of about 45 people from 30 countries.
“It was all very energetic and a little overwhelming because there were so many nationalities,” Karina says. “Cisco offers a window to many cultures and ideas. I love to talk about my country, Venezuela, and learn about what is happening in other countries. You get to see the world through other people’s eyes.
This past February, during a field trip to Madrid, Karina learned about our Early Career Network (ECN)—a global employee resource organization that’s focused on people just starting their career. She also learned about ECN Impact Month—the group’s flagship event, where people across the world join together virtually and show their positive impact on Cisco. Those who accept the challenge log their participation in events, volunteering and training.
Karina threw herself into the challenge—especially when she saw it had the backing of our top leaders: Rowan Trollope, SVP and GM, Applications Group, and Scott Brown, SVP Global Virtual Success and Customer Success. “From the beginning I was super active,” she says. “I involved my manager and my future team in Spain to see which activities I could be involved in.”
She helped organize a Women of Impact event in Amsterdam. She led an activity where volunteers painted walls and helped refurbish a local school. She’s especially proud of a session she organized that helped ECN’ers across the world—both in sales and engineering—to share with each other their interesting tech projects and initiatives.
“The value was that it was cross functional,” Karina says. “I think discipline and the support of my team was the key for me to win this global competition.” This past week, she got use her prize—shadowing Scott Brown in RTP.
A Career Boost
Karina is still on the job training in the Netherlands, but the program has already turbo-charged her professional life. She recently racked up another award—winner of the Digital Seller Festival for the EMEAR region.
“The program has been a boost in my career in terms of all the knowledge, new skills and confidence I’ve gained,” she says. She gives a special shout out to her mentor—Evert Demmer, who manages Global Virtual Sales and the CSAP program in Amsterdam. “He’s the one who has supported me the most in my career at Cisco. I’m very happy that I made this decision to come to Cisco.”
Since first impressions go both ways, what is Karina’s advice to hiring managers and to new hires who want to make an impact on Cisco?
She says hiring managers should “find smart and curious people with strong ethical principles.”
And new hires? That’s easy—they should just do what she has done: “Get involved and get things done.”
- Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP)
- Cisco Careers
- First Impressions at Cisco
- ECN Impact Month
- Women of Impact
- Digital Festival EMEAR
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