3 questions to: Anna Toporkiewicz, one of the first Cisco Krakow employees
We talked with Anna Toporkiewicz, one of the first employees on the Cisco Krakow team, who, during her career journey, tried herself in various positions and was successfully co-leading the Cisco Connected Poland organization for the last few years. She shared how her career started, how it feels to co-lead at a team of enthusiasts, and how she gains the energy after work hours.
[reading time: 3 min 24 sec]
1. We know that you started your career at Cisco back in October 2013, so just one year after opening our campus in Krakow. Would you tell us how exactly you got into the organization, what tasks you solved, and how has your journey been evolving since then?
Was it in 2013? Already? A long time ago… I remember passing the Cisco office at Dekerta street at the time with the thought in my head – what an amazing company, I would love to work there. I was reviewing job ads posted by Cisco, hoping that I will find something for myself… and one day, I found. I applied, but guess what, unfortunately nobody called, so I decided to change jobs and choose another employer. Finally, after three months, Cisco called with an invite for the recruitment process… without thinking a lot, I decided to try. And after eight interviews – here I am.
Over those eight years at Cisco, the company let me try different positions starting from business analyst through data analyst, people leader, and finally becoming Program Manager. I learnt a lot from a data management perspective through process improvements and people development. I met great people on my way who gave me a supporting hand and a chance to try something new – thank you all for the trust that I can do it.
Believe me, it was not that easy, but thanks to all the fantastic people I met and the very constructive feedback I keep on receiving, I can work on myself and be better for others.
2. Cisco Connected Poland organization plays a significant role in winning the Great Place To Work Award in Poland, and you were one of the senior leaders of this organization for many years. Could you tell us a little bit, for those who don’t know, what this organization does and what it’s like to lead such an enormous team?
Connected Poland is indeed an organization within Cisco Poland, but somehow the word ‘organization’ doesn’t fit, doesn’t pass the true essence of what Connected Poland is. Because in fact it’s a passion. An invisible glue or secret sauce that connects people of Cisco. Of course, Connected Poland has a structure, leaders, pillars, budget, communication channels, so all that which defines an organization. However, all those attributes wouldn’t make it successful without people’s hearts and minds working together and following their passions. Connected Poland builds on the need to be together and achieve together. Whatever it might be: yoga, Pilates, decluttering the wardrobe, learning how to make sushi, prepare a drink, share food from your home country during an International Day, support a local food bank for those in need, or walk a homeless dog – we do it together, inspire each other and most importantly have fun! It takes passion to do that because we all have our day jobs and so indeed running an initiative under Connected Poland often becomes a job by night. Passion makes a difference.
Looking at it from an engagement perspective Connected Poland is a grass-root, employee-driven initiative. It gathers people under 9 pillars (Inclusion & Collaboration, Giving Back, Sports & Health, Music & Art, Social Events, Green Team, Career Development, Krakow Site Newsletter, University Connection) and enables them to make their ideas materialize, supporting them with organizational skills and budget. This way, Connected Poland gives team members also the opportunity to gain new skills that are not necessarily at the core of their regular job – so they can develop themselves while doing great things for others.
Our doors are always open, and we warmly welcome all new Cisconians who would like to step in and make a difference.
At Cisco, everything is about people, and believe me, even though we are now more than 2500 employees: Cisco Krakow is like one big family with Connected Poland like the wax that holds the hive together.
3. You oversee several projects and have a lot of responsibilities at work. Surely you can often get tired. What helps you get distracted after a good day at work, and what hobbies help you gain energy?
First of all, I am a Mum of two boys who don’t understand the word tired. So after regular work, I need to be creative enough to organize a nice time for them as well – and their smile is the biggest award and energizer for me.
What’s more… hmm… Working with people and running different projects – The more I have on my plate, the better for the projects I am in;)
And last but not least I love running, especially in the mountains and believe me after 15km of run I feel energized and eager to do the things. I am a long-distance runner, and I prepare myself for the first ultra runs in the future – so please keep your fingers crossed for me.
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