It’s a real honour when you get to help a company that has pledged to positively impact 1 billion people by 2025. That’s Cisco’s goal, and it reflects its mission to be the bridge between hope and possible. At Gotara, we’re helping the STEM+ women at Cisco discover what’s possible in their careers with our in-depth nano-learning STAR programs. In this Q&A conversation, Puja Jaspal—the Senior Vice President, People & Communities at Cisco, shares with Gotara’s founder and CEO, D. Sangeeta, how the in-depth nano-learning STAR leadership program made a difference for STEM women at Cisco.

Q & A | Gotara + Cisco

What’s your company’s strategy for attracting top STEM+ women?

“Our talent strategy overall at Cisco, and especially in engineering, is to enable our people to thrive and to drive excellence in their work and specifically in driving innovation at Cisco. And the only way we’re going to do that is to get the best and brightest ideas from all our people. I believe inclusion, collaboration and diversity is a key enabler to innovation.

 We’re spending a lot of time thinking about our entire population, especially our underrepresented minorities and our women. Every individual needs to feel heard and feel like they have a path and a place in the organization; in particular, the women in engineering and STEM fields are an area where we’ve seen quite a bit of attrition and turnover. I think every company is facing a challenge in retaining top women and women in general, so they develop their careers and stay in their careers in STEM. We have to give them the right opportunities and make sure that our women are in career paths and places where they don’t get stuck.”

How did Gotara help you with your talent strategy with STEM+ women?

“It has been a fruitful partnership so far. I’m looking forward to the work that we’ll do in the future in enabling our women to be successful, to connect to role models, to have their questions answered in real time and to get the advice that they need to ask the right questions to get the right opportunities to pull their careers forward with the right support, sponsorship and mentorship. We all know that that moves the needle, and we have to do more of it. I see the ability of connecting Gotara to our women in STEM and our women in engineering at Cisco as really a key enabler to helping them succeed.”




What feedback have you gotten from the Cisco talent enrolled in Gotara’s in-depth nano-learning STAR program?

“Overall, it’s been really strongly positive in terms of the experience.”

In addition to the in-depth nano-learning, participants in the STAR program have 24/7 access to our “just-in-time” nano-learning platform where they can confidentially ask for advice and guidance on matters that are urgent, as well as tactical and strategic. What do you think of this additional service that we offer?

“Just-in-time—real-time— interventions as I see them are really critical. I think one of the things that oftentimes people struggle with is [finding] in-the-moment real-time guidance that’s needed. When you don’t address those questions properly, that’s when we come up with stories in our head about, ‘Okay, this is happening, and this is why,’ and it may not be true.  It might be self-sabotaging in some ways, and it’s that point of interception that so critical.”   

Do Gotara’s STEM+ advisors offer something unique on the market?

“I think so, absolutely. Just the fact that they approach coaching by identifying the root cause analysis behind the participant’s goals and issues shows that you’re taking an engineering approach to coaching, which is great. You need those role models inside and outside the company to stay in the ring and to stay the course in an engineering world.”

Cisco was named the best place for women to work in India for the second year in a row, and you’re No 1 in Fortune World’s Best Workplaces for two years as well. What makes Cisco’s culture attractive for STEM+ women?

“People often say our culture is positive, and there’s a real sense of collaboration. I think this is a place that values individuality, authenticity and diversity of thought and diversity of people. I think these are the cultural underpinnings of Cisco that stand out for people.”

Interested in learning more about Gotara’s STAR Programs? Let’s connect.