January 31, 2022

How Cisco Meraki works its magic for women in leadership

Cisco Meraki

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“The ‘Meraki Magic’ is real!” 

For Sammy Brenner, as soon as she joined the team at Cisco Meraki, she knew her life was about to change. From her initial interview, where the people she met “were so real and genuine,” to the office tour which “wowed” her, the whole recruitment process was an “awesome experience.” By the end of her first week, she knew she’d made the right decision. 

Now, as a Director, Business Development – Global, Sammy shares the secret formula that makes Cisco Meraki such a magical place to work.

Love at first sight

“I loved Meraki right out the gate.” 

During their first two weeks at Meraki, all new employees go through a training program called ‘Ignite’. Pre-pandemic the company would bring new hires from around the world to the HQ office in San Francisco to meet each other and get a crash course learning the Meraki technology. Sammy says this was an invaluable experience, and it became clear she was on the right track:

“By the end of the first week, not only had I met an amazing group of people from all over the world, but I could also explain cloud networking at a high level.”

Find your flow

Sammy started her career in sales the hard way: making sixty cold calls a day. She says that although “it was a real grind,” it was where she learned reliance and grit. Following a 3-year stint with a start-up, Sammy landed at Meraki where she has been for four years. “I was an inside sales rep for a year, then transitioned into a leadership role taking over the team I was on.” And the experience was transformative.

Cisco Meraki changed my life in the most positive way possible. They gave me the opportunity to become a leader, which is hands down the best thing that’s ever happened to my career.” 

Being a leader gives Sammy the feeling of being in “flow”. She says, “it is the first time I’ve ever experienced that.” 

Sammy encourages everyone to bring their best selves to work every day, and the results of her leadership style speak for themselves:

“In my new Director role, I’ll have the ability to coach and enable front line managers to grow as leaders and hold them accountable for results. I’ll also be responsible to help grow the best, early-in-career talent through a great onboarding experience and continued development. 
I’m proud to lead a diverse and innovative team that is consistently high performing.”

Be a career champion

Sammy’s responsibilities as a leader are something she takes seriously, always keeping the happiness and wellbeing of her team members as her top priority. 

“I truly think it’s an honor to lead. I’ve learned how to lead with empathy and how to inspire my folks by leaning into their unique strengths and what energizes them personally.”

Sammy knows that career progression is one of the key factors in ensuring people feel fulfilled in the workplace. So, she makes it her goal to be a “career champion” for her reps to develop their professional goals – and, ultimately, promoted off her team. 

“Watching my reps grow and progress is the most impactful part of the job. Whether they aspire to get into leadership or want to advance their sales career, if I can help get them to that next level, I’ve done my job. It’s beyond rewarding.”

Enjoy the flexibility

When you’re dealing with a lot of different personalities in your team, being a leader can present its challenges. And, especially in sales, where it’s “pretty black and white when it comes to performance,” there are sometimes unavoidable tough conversations to be had. But Sammy lives by the words of motivational speaker Brené Brown who says, “clear is kind.” This means she is always upfront and honest when it comes to her expectations and strives to establish an open dialogue with her team with equal measures of empathy and direct clarity about how to tackle issues when they arise. 

Sammy also knows that you need to be flexible as a leader – ready to take on a range of different roles: 

“I’ll partner closely with cross-functional teams with a strong emphasis on Sales, Sales Operations and Marketing Operations. In addition – I get the opportunity to work closely with the Senior Sales staff on strategy and planning for the expansion of the overall Account Development Representative (ADR) program.”

Did you know Cisco offers each employee 5 paid days volunteering each year?

Find out more about this and Cisco’s other great incentives.

Keep your passions alive

Alongside her day-to-day job, Sammy has been given the creative freedom to revisit her long-held passion for broadcast journalism:

“At Cisco Meraki, I co-host our company podcast Meraki Unboxed, where I explore the ‘human’ element of networking on a monthly basis. IT FUELS ME!”

As well as helping others by sharing the experiences of her guests, the podcast taps right into one of Sammy’s core personality traits. A trait which also helps her be an effective and understanding leader:

“I’m super-inquisitive. I love asking questions and getting to know people on a deeper level.”

Ask for what you need

Sammy believes that achieving a successful career isn’t down to luck. Instead, “it’s about hard work, dedication, and showing up and asking for what you need to become successful.” 

“My favorite saying is ‘open mouths get fed.’ If you want it, you need to make it known and ask.” 

Mentorship and support have helped Sammy to get to where she is today, and she encourages everyone to develop a strong network:

“Find those mentors or people you look up to and respect, let them know what your goals are, and have them in your corner to make it happen.”

Be your own superhero

Sammy has lived by her own advice throughout her career and advises others to take their futures into their own hands too. Reflecting on her professional journey so far, she says:

“I look back on my experiences and realize so much has happened for me because I wasn’t afraid to go for it – or I just pushed through the fear. You create your own destiny when it comes to cultivating the career you want – and that is super-powerful.”  

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About the Author
Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job. Check out the latest job vacancies with Cisco Meraki