Cisco Culture: It’s About More Than Just the Numbers
A construction crew in Gainesville, Georgia – a crew unlike any other you’ve seen – just did something amazing. They’re all Cisco employees who came together over the course of 12 weeks to change a family’s life for the better. Cisco and Habitat for Humanity teamed up to build the Americas House, a home that is 100% funded and built by Cisco’s Americas Sales team, from the first nail to handing over the keys to the new owners.
How it began
Eight months ago, the concept of the Americas House was just an idea. “Time and again, I’ve heard remarkable stories of Cisco teams across the Americas working to provide housing for the most vulnerable in their communities,” said Joy Bradley, Cisco’s Americas House program manager. “We realized there was a great opportunity to bring all of our Cisco resources together to impact the future of families across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America.” From there, the Americas House was born.
A real house built for real people
Cisco volunteers built the first Americas House for Jeremy and Jennifer Stephens and their five children. The Stephens have been living in Forsyth County for 15 years and currently live in a home that their family has long since outgrown. Their dream is to provide a warm, safe home for their children, two of whom have special needs. Together, Cisco and Habitat for Humanity are the Stephens family’s bridge to making their dream possible.
Cisco isn’t like most companies
The Americas Sales team at Cisco donated the funding for the land and materials to build the home in Gainesville and committed volunteers to staff the 12-week build. Giving back is a core part of Cisco’s culture, and the Cisco team answered the call to support the Americas House and the Stephens family. Over 200 employees across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America registered to volunteer.
Cisco employees are no strangers to volunteering
Will Ash, Cisco’s Senior Director of Cybersecurity for U.S. Public Sector, has been active with Habitat for Humanity for 15 years in Massachusetts and Virginia. He brought 14 leaders from Cisco’s U.S. Public Sector Security team down to Gainesville to work on the Americas House. “In Public Sector, we pride ourselves on serving those who protect, serve, and educate,” he said. “It’s important to lead by example and give back. It’s part of what makes our culture so great.”
William DeKnatel, a Client Services Director for Cisco in New York City, has been a champion for Habitat for Humanity for the past 10 years, through his church in Westchester County, New York. DeKnatel recruits church members, Boy Scouts, neighbors, and Cisco colleagues from the tri-state area, and even customers like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley. “I organize volunteer events, get the word out, and what happens next is people’s individual desire to make a difference in their community.”
Great company, great people
When DeKnatel invited the tri-state area team to join him for a week on the build, he was overwhelmed by the number of people who raised their hands to help. He had to break them into two teams of 20 over the course of two weeks. “You are seeing a lot of leadership going down to do their part,” he said. “There are some really high-quality people here at Cisco, regardless of position, who understand the value of small acts of kindness and the impact it can have on people.”
In building this home, Cisco volunteers helped write a new story for the Stephens family. The keys were presented to the family on February 23 with an audience of volunteers including Americas Senior Vice President Jeff Sharritts and the dedicated volunteers from Habitat for Humanity. “Watching the Stephens family receive their keys to their forever home was something I will never forget,” said Bradley. “The Americas Cisco community really rallied going above and beyond to change lives. That speaks volumes about what makes Cisco so amazing.”
And Gainesville is only the beginning. Cisco will launch the second Americas House in Latin America in spring 2019 and another in Canada in the fall.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that helps people around the world build or improve a place they can call home. Are you interested in helping to build a house with Habitat for Humanity? Sign up to volunteer.
See what the Americas House volunteers are up to here.