Get to Know Gisela Franco, CES EMEAR Senior Director at Cisco Portugal
Did you know that Gisela Franco, Senior Director of the Client Experience Services Organization in EMEAR and one of Cisco Portugal’s site leaders, has been at Cisco for 14 years? Yes, It’s true!
Besides being an experienced and accomplished leader and managing an organization of more than 100 people, Gisela is also a mother to two daughters and like most of us, is trying to find the perfect work and life balance in this so called new “reality”.
While celebrating Women’s Day and Women of Impact week at Cisco, we decided to challenge Gisela to share her journey and experience at this amazing company, while getting to know her at a more personal level.
How did you come to work at Cisco and if you could translate what your experience has been in a few sentences what would you say?
I started in Cisco almost 14 years ago. The decision of moving out from my other company and applying to Cisco was one of those decisions that literally was taken overnight. I was reading the newspaper and looking at the job section and came across a one-page ad from Cisco. It immediately caught my eye as a few years back I had done a postgraduate in e-business and Cisco was one of the case studies that I had gone through. So decided that it was a sign to move on, take the chance of moving out from my comfort zone and start a project from scratch. At that time, Cisco was opening up the Operations Center in Lisbon as part of the Hercules project. I will remember these first years as one of the most exciting ones in my professional life. What I found at Cisco was beyond my wildest expectations. The culture, the people, the focus on the employee…nothing similar to what I had seen before. From that moment on, the ride continued full of exciting moments, opportunities to grow in different directions, and overall the possibility of meeting so many great people some of them became close friends and part of the extended family.
How would you describe the Cisco culture in a few words?
When I have some difficult days where things do not go as I would like at work, I always remind myself of the company we work for and the people around me. It is a culture where you are expected to give the best of yourself every day and quite demanding but a culture where you get recognized for your effort. I am not talking only about the financial compensation but look at what we have seen from our Executive Leadership Team during this pandemic: the extra days given to all employees in moments that matter, the conversations about topics that are top of mind for parents, the focus on employee well-being… yes it is a demanding business that Cisco operates in and therefore we are expected to perform at our best but at the same time there is an understanding that we are not machines and that there are moments where the fast pace just needs to slow down. That flexibility and that realization across all levels of the company is the best that Cisco offers. And just to reinforce the point above, Culture is made of people and Cisco is made of great people that care about each other, care about the community and those in need.
What advice would you give to a Cisco new joiner?
Breathe deep as it will be a crazy ride. The first days, weeks, months… you will feel lost in the middle of all the information that is thrown at you. It can be quite overwhelming but do not give up as there will always be someone to help you and make sense of things. One advice/ask that I always have for the new joiners in my organization is that apart from being hired for a specific role, it is important that they feel they are active contributors to this amazing culture and that means participating in site activities, giving back to the community or in so many other events that Cisco and their employees organize for us! A culture like Cisco only exists because of what our people do so each one of us has the responsibility to contribute to it.
What is the best memory you keep from a recent travel or holidays?
A holiday with the family is always a moment that always brings a smile to your face. Definitely, the one where we had the greatest fun was a long-distance holiday we did as a family to Mauritius 2 years ago. Getting away from everything to such a beautiful place was magic and gave us the opportunity to spend time with each other and just re-energize. I hope we can go back there soon. The picture you see here is actually from that week in Mauritius.
Something you love…
Beach, sun, exercise, happy moments with my loved ones (who doesn’t?).
Something you hate…
Having a bad memory for numbers. The last page of my notebook is filled with important numbers that I need to remember. I have a great memory for everything else but not numbers.
Your favorite place in the world…
Home (although right now a bit tired of being here for a year). All the places that I visited are favorite places while I am there but there is nothing like home!
If you had a chance to invite a celebrity for dinner, who would it be?
That’s a hard one…maybe Barack Obama – first person that came to my mind as I am reading his book at the moment. Independently if you agree or not with him politically, I just feel that he is such an inspiration especially if you read a bit his personal story and journey.
Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
A couple of people at Cisco became my unofficial mentors because of circumstances. There are 2 people at Cisco that I consider my mentors or even sponsors and they know who they are. In essence, people helped me grow and address the difficult situation with the right advice at the right time. These are relationships that I continue to nurture and maintain not because of a need but because those people inspire me as a professional and human being. Outside of work, my parents will always be an inspiration because of who they are, all the efforts they have done for me over their entire life and that has more recently been extended to my children and husband. They are a great pillar for us!
Want to join our Women of Impact 2021 Celebrations? Tune in to our Women of Impact EMEAR Session on Wednesday, March 10th at 10a.m. where Cisco’s Finance Director Jules O’Shea Interviews 4-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion and author Chrissie Wellington. Followed by the Rise. Shine. Thrive. Panel with Kim Pasche, Reem Asaad, Koen Jacobs, and Philippa Waller.Tags: