After university she pursued her engineering dream, relocating from Jordan to Poland to become a Network Consulting Engineer within Cisco CX, putting her expertise to work for Cisco customers. She’s also a tireless ambassador for women in technology, visiting schools across the region to help girls find their own career paths.
Whether you’re an aspiring engineer yourself, or a CIO keen to nurture your employee’s talent, Aseel’s story shines a light on the curiosity and social purpose driving the next generation of engineers — and the kinds of environments they need to make the most of their talent.
The power of passion
At the heart of Aseel’s journey is one word: passion. Hers has burned brighter with every skill she’s learned, every certificate she’s cleared, every challenge she’s overcome. She understands that passion is the key to any successful career.
“After I got my CCIE I became a Cisco Academy Ambassador,” she explains. “I started going to schools and universities in Jordan, where I share with them my story, try to inspire them and motivate them. I know it’s cheesy, but I always used to tell them to find their passion and pursue it.”
That early passion needs careful nurturing if it’s to develop. Aseel’s father encouraged her interest in networking, but many girls don’t have that support.
“For me it’s really important to get other girls into the STEM field. I found my passion when I was 12 years old but there are girls out there who are still wondering what they want to do.”
Results matter, not appearances
Even as a CCIE, Aseel experienced first-hand how hard it is to be a female engineer.
“Before joining Cisco, I worked as a pre-sales engineer. Nobody expected a girl to go to meet customers or work in the data center. They thought girls belonged at a desk. But I did not like that idea at all. And I remember that I gave my manager a big headache about it!”
Naturally, Aseel looked for a culture that valued results, not stereotypes.
“Part of the reason I wanted to join Cisco is that many of the executive managers are women, including the most senior leaders in CX finance, HR, sales and marketing,” she says. “It shows me that Cisco believes that women are capable of doing anything. At Cisco they don’t care about your gender, your sexuality, whether you have tattoos, whether you have piercings or whatever. They care about what you have in your head.”
The right culture delivers the right results
“It was a goal for me to work at Cisco ever since I was 12 years old, because of the environment they have for their employees and the work they deliver for their customers.”
For Aseel, it was important that the culture was authentic. “I remember I used to check #lovewhereyouwork and #wearecisco on social media and I could see how the Cisco employees actually enjoyed working there.”
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And when she graduated and made the leap to Cisco? “Moving from Jordan to Krakow was a huge step, obviously,” she says. “I was leaving my family, my friends, my work and everything back home, and moving to a whole new journey, but I knew that I was doing the right thing because I was achieving my goal.”
Aseel joined Cisco as a Network Consulting Engineer, in the SD-WAN team. As an NCE, she’s responsible for designing, testing and implementing SD-WAN solutions for customers — putting her on the cutting edge of real-world networking. The approach to getting the job done struck her instantly. “For example, you could have a Webex call with a customer or a partner and you would have a TAC engineer, product managers from Cisco engineering, and Network Consulting Engineers like me, we’re all working to help the customer. There are no siloes here.”
See behind the scenes of the CX Center in Cisco Krakow, where Aseel works.
Customers are part of the team
To Aseel, Cisco has a responsibility to make customers and partners successful — and that’s not just about delivering designs and implementations, but knowledge and skills, too.
For any IT leader struggling to overcome an industry-wide skills shortage, Aseel holds a ray of hope.
“Of course we have our training services and events like Cisco Live, where we have technical sessions dedicated to new technologies,” she says. “But I have calls with customers every day who are struggling to understand a new technology. I believe it’s my job not only to do their configuration or their implementation, but to bring them along with me.
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Continuously learning, continuously innovating
Aseel’s passion for learning is as strong as ever, and she believes that it’s vital for engineers to keep developing their skills as technology evolves. As well as frequent training, the right culture and team practices are key.
“All of the engineers here are eager to learn more about new technologies, such as automation. We have knowledge transfer sessions where we gather every week to share problems and new ideas. When internally we’re working in sync together, I believe our customers can really see it.”
But guided learning is only half of the story. Good engineers need to explore and innovate.
“When I came here, I noticed that the engineers are given the space to be innovative. Cisco encourages us to explore and come up with new ideas, especially with all the innovation challenges.”
Innovation on your mind? Check out the MACRO podcast from Cisco’s innovation team.
“Whenever I come in to work there are emails, seminars, events that we’re invited to, to make sure we’re not only focused on the work we’re doing, but on innovation within our teams. And if I came up with a new idea and went to my manager? Ah! I think my manager would be over the clouds!”
Aseel Othman has come a long way since making her first network connection aged 12. And one thing is clear: the journey’s not over yet.
In Cisco CX, more than 27,000 passionate experts just like Aseel are working every day to help customers turn technology into business value. Check out our customer stories to see what we can do for you.
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