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Women Who Support Women – Get to know WISE Portugal


February 1, 2021


Ana Zeferino knew her life belonged in the tech world since the age of 12, when she got her first computer. “I was fascinated by computer games and the ability of entering new realities and play different characters and roles”. Her high school curriculum included computer engineering subjects, and she graduated from University aiming to become a Software Developer. She ended up taking an opportunity at Piaget Institute, making troubleshooting and stress tests. But something was terribly missing – a wider interaction with people and a connection with different industry areas. She gave her first steps in Project Management with Ericsson and became a proud Senior Project Manager for Cisco in 2013. If you were a regular at Cisco Lisbon office coffee area, that’s where you would find Ana early in the morning or after lunchtime, sipping caffeine and spreading good vibes with her most contagious laugh. You can find her now in CX Organization as a Customer Success Specialist (CSS) Manager.

Meanwhile, Sara Lopes got inspired towards engineering with her grandfather, while he was working on his computer. “I used to watch him doing a million things and always got amazed and curious over the number of lights, wires, and devices connected”. Sara also used to play a lot of video games with her brother and was devoted to mathematics – “I had an incredible teacher; he was the first person who talked to me about careers in STEM”. She took a degree in Computer Science and became a Cisconian through Cisco’s Graduate program in San Jose, California. In 2013 she joined Cisco Portugal. As a people person, you can find her doing what she loves: innovating and impacting everywhere through the power of inclusion and collaboration as an SW Automation Manager for CX EMEAR SP. Get her some chocolate and you won her heart!

Cisco Portugal WISE Leads - Ana and Sara

Apart from a huge passion for technology and an enormous friendship, Ana and Sara have more in common: they feel fortunate and grateful to have grown in a supportive environment that encouraged them to do bigger and better. This was particularly important, it helped Ana getting over obstacles and surpass any insecurities. Sara experienced a different approach during college years though: “I used to hear things like You’re only passing this class because you’re a girl!”  

They don’t remember how they met but remember how they start realizing how much they were alike and became each other’s backs. Whenever Ana needs a different perspective she counts on Sara’s objective and business-oriented eye. If Sara feels demotivated or stressed, she finds in Ana a voice to calm her down and boost her up. 

Did you know that Women Who Support Women are more successful in business? A research from Harvard Business Review suggests the best way to overcome cultural and systemic barriers is to leverage the power of collaboration and build close connections with other women who have been there, done that. Ana and Sara are the perfect example of how incredible things happen when Women Support Women

Cisco Portugal WISE Leads - Ana and Sara

Gender disparities in STEM are still a reality. “The low participation and achievement rates of girls and women can negatively impact larger societal progress as STEM innovations have incredible potential to drive sustainable development”, states a report from UNESCO. Loss of talent, perspectives, potential advancements, and overall strength of workforce are matters of concern due to the unequal participation of genders at the expense of females. 

Much work needs to be done to ensure equitable opportunities. To help this cause, Ana and Sara joined forces and became part of Cisco WISE core team in Portugal last year. They aim to build a supportive and collaborative network to reduce the gender gap in STEM and encourage women to pursue their career dreams, through mentorship, coaching sessions, and other interactive initiatives.

Cisco Portugal WISE (3)

We want to give forward to young girls and women what was given to us from family, peers and colleagues at Cisco – do onto others what was done onto us!”

This initiative is fully supported by an extraordinary panel of Executive Sponsors from Cisco Portugal: Claudia Kittredge (Head of CX Centers Lisbon), Gisela Franco (Operations Manager) and Miguel Almeida (Portugal General Manager). ​​​​​​​

Amazing things happen when Cisconians get together to create inclusive opportunities!

The WISE ERO is growing in EMEAR! Reach out to Ana and Sara for tips and best practices to implement it in your country. Join the movement!

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