Hacking Your Way to Making New Friends and Working on New Technologies

by Avni Baveja · Data Center Core Software · United States


I was hired through the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. Cisco's women engineers motivated me to join Cisco. As a fresh graduate from Carnegie Mellon, I was excited.

I love to innovate, build, create and hack into software and hardware. I'm a software engineer in the Data Center Core Software Group, and I started at Cisco in an internship.

I'm on a team with a culture that encourages innovation and creative thinking. Our manager, Samar Sharma, has filed 50-plus patents and he motivates team members to come up with new ideas. Every few months, our team has brainstorming sessions and mini hackathons. We showcase the outcome to Cisco executives and marketing teams.

We believe that, through interactions with people working with different technologies and in different functions, we can come up with solutions that are game-changing and disruptive—and good for our customers.

Another way to come up with disruptive ideas is by participating in Cisco-wide hackathons. A hackathon is an event where you form a team, think of an idea, execute, and demonstrate a working prototype in 24 hours.

In a hackathon you can come up with solutions that are game-changing and disruptive.

My first 24-hour hackathon was HACK-IT, organized by the Cisco IT group. The team I was on built a prototype for face recognition software that would replace badging. I felt empowered and inspired by the passion and energy of my colleagues. We broke our solution many times—and fixed it again and again—but in the end made it work.

As an engineer at Cisco, I feel empowered to accomplish great things.

Each team got a "shark tank" moment, where you present your solution to the judges. Our team won a prize for our solution, and we were all brimming with pride. Winning ideas from hackathon events can be vetted by incubator programs for adoption into product roadmaps.

Since then, I have participated and helped organize various hacking events. Each experience has taught me something new, like how to bring together diverse teams. I use these new skills to experiment with new technologies and come up with creative solutions in my daily work. At Cisco, I feel empowered to accomplish great things and create world-changing products.

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