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A driver in London blasting American country music from their car is about as rare as a Wi-Fi signal in the wilderness. But if you do encounter it, there’s a good chance the man at the wheel is Cisco’s John Maynard. Especially if he’s singing along — badly.
“Country music is not really a thing here in London,” says John, who was born and raised in Southampton on England’s south coast, and acquired a taste for country while living in the U.S.
“So, people do give me funny looks.”
John’s first-ever job was as a paperboy. He worked hard at it, at one point doing three routes and picking up routes for others as well. He had a lousy bicycle that kept breaking down and routinely called on his dad to help him deliver the newspapers by car.
The gig taught him that hard work leads to more work or the next challenge.
“And to lean on other people,” he notes.
“It’s the balance of doing more and asking for help if you need it.”
But the best advice John was ever given came from a previous boss, “Just be yourself and don’t overthink it.” He says the words gel well with Cisco’s culture of bringing your whole self to work.
John joined Cisco in July 2018 and runs our global security sales organization. It’s the latest highlight in a career that has followed an unusual path. After graduating with an Economics degree from the University of Sheffield in Northern England, John spent several years in the world of corporate finance.
He advised large technology companies with KPMG and JP Morgan Chase, knee-deep in mergers and acquisitions, joint venture partnerships, alliances, and divestitures.
“It was a good learning experience straight out of university,” he recalls. And it was a foundation that became his springboard into the cybersecurity space with IT services firm Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).
The transition to security fulfilled his desire to “build something rather than to see others build something,” he says. It was at HP where he had the opportunity to move to Singapore as the head of cybersecurity in the APJC region. Two years later, he moved to Silicon Valley to oversee the company’s global security and product strategy.
John isn’t the type to pass up a new challenge, so when the opportunity to join Cisco arose, he made the leap – back across the pond.
The new job returned John and his family to England. Today, he lives outside London with his wife, Louise, and their four children.
John got the travel bug after spending six months at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark as part of his undergraduate degree. Later, EDS sponsored him to get an MBA at the London Business School.
“I can’t relocate any more as it generally results in having another baby, and I think we’re done at four!” John quips.
When asked what most attracted him to Cisco, topping the list were our size, scale, and the momentum of our security business; but what struck him most during the interview process was the people.
“The people are second to none,” says John,
“And now that I’ve been here for almost two years, I’ve seen how our Teams consistently want to go the extra mile. Even our customers want to help us be successful. The Cisco brand is very powerful.”
It only takes a few minutes of chatting with John to feel his passion for cybersecurity. He loves solving complex problems and believes securing our digital world is a mammoth challenge that requires a different approach.
John believes we can’t keep tackling security in a patchwork way, which is what the industry has been doing until now.
“Leaders today have changed philosophy and understand that it’s not about point product solutions but rather an integrated platform — and no one can do that better than Cisco,” reflects John excitedly.
A huge Marvel fan, John’s office is plastered with posters of Captain America, Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk. If he were a superhero, he’d want to be Ironman. John explains,
“Being able to fly and do everything that Ironman can do with technology and artificial intelligence would be phenomenal!”
Those who know John would say that he’s a “Tony Stark” at heart since they both share a love of technology and a desire to use it to save the world.
Making a difference was another key aspect that attracted John to Cisco. Recently, he brought the GSSO team together before IMPACT in Las Vegas for a giving back activity with Rise Against Hunger. The team packed 285,000 meals for communities in need in the Philippines.
It was the largest meal packing event by a tech firm ever.
Not only was the team able to fill an entire shipping container with food, but they also helped Cisco reach the incredible milestone of 2 million meals packed with Rise Against Hunger. John and 10 team members will use their Time2Give days to help deliver the meals — in person — to the different schools and charities in the Philippines.
“Being able to see the communities we help firsthand is a life-changing experience and something I am looking forward to sharing with my team,” says John.
With his down-to-earth leadership style, it comes as no surprise that his two favorite Cisco principles are “Give your ego a day off” and “Take accountability.”
“You spend a lot of time at work in the trenches with your team, so there’s no need to have ego there,” John shares.
“Accountability and trust are fundamental to any high performing team.”
John’s global responsibilities mean he travels often, but he’s made a commitment to his family to be home at the weekends whenever possible – even if that means extra travel for him. While on the road he’s got his library of wide-ranging musical tastes including ’80s, trance and dance music, not to mention his favorite country playlists.
He’s also a big podcast listener. His current favorite is “Hardcore History.”
So next time you see John around the office, make sure to ask him for a song! He’s been known to give public performances outside his car every now and then.
What you’d never guess about John:
- When John was 12, he won a local county high jump competition.
- The best trip he ever took was a safari trip to Kenya, but Italy is especially close to his and Louise’s hearts since they were married there.
- Besides being Ironman, the other talent he would wish for is to sing. “My kids always tell me to stop singing” — which is why he’s relegated to singing in the car.
- His favorite restaurant in the world is a hole-in-the-wall joint in Silicon Valley called Orenchi Ramen.
“I could eat tonkotsu ramen every day,”he says.
- His time in California led him to love green juice, enjoy cross-fit, and become a “competent” surfer.
Have you heard? October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Check CEC for articles and resources throughout the month to help you stay informed and empowered.
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