Sales Associate Program at CISCO – A life changing adventure

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When you are a student, you’re never quite sure where you’re going next. Yes, you have dreams and ambitions of where you career might take you, but life is full of unexpected twists and turns. For Ida and Maarten, one of those turns led them to join CSAP (Cisco Sales Associate Program). Let’s hear what they have to say about this experience. First, let’s meet Ida. She is an Account Manager in Denmark.

So,– Ida tell us a few words about you – your studies, why exactly did you choose to work in sales and how did you find out about CSAP?

Ida: I took my Master in Economics and Business Administration, so the job opportunities were quite wide for me, particularly industry wise. Therefore, I considered a lot, which journey should be the beginning of my career. I looked at different graduate programmes and came across Cisco’s CSAP. When learning more about CSAP I was mostly attracted by the international opportunities, the great training and the emphasis on social skills in a sales organization, moreover the future prospects of joining a global IT company. Hold! Have you met Maarten? Maarten is a Systems Engineer in Belgium.

Maarten – tell us about your background and why did you choose Cisco.

Maarten: During my M.Sc in electrical engineering, I realized I wanted a job that combines my passion for technical and business work. I didn’t want to spend my days behind a computer designing the next chip or algorithm! Then Cisco sent out an email advertising their CSAP program. After looking into CSAP and Cisco, I found the program to be a good match with how I see my future.

What about the recruitment process? Was it easy or scary?

Maarten: The recruitment process consist of 2 steps.

  1. Short video interview in which they asked me questions like – what’s your profile, how do you deal with team work, what are the accomplishments you’re most proud of and then you talk about a chosen technical topic. In my case, I talked about ‘connected cities’.
  2. Round 2 is an on-site assessment day. During this day, you’ll talk with and present to management, CSAP graduates, and HR. During these sessions, Cisco really tries to get a sense of who you are, what you want to achieve, how you communicate ideas. There’s really nothing to be afraid of, I found the atmosphere to be relaxed and the people you meet are extremely nice!

Ida: I will just add that I did not find it scary at all, during the process I was informed about the next steps and what to prepare. I found that the assessment day was a great opportunity to sense the vibe around the office. It’s also a chance for you to see the inside of the company.

Oh, great! And what happened then, I’ve heard you get to spend one year abroad, how did you like it? Where did you go? How did you spend time there? Meaning during working hours and after, of course 🙂 

Maarten: I really liked my year in Amsterdam. During the training program, you work together with great colleagues from all over Europe, Africa and the Middle East. You get introduced to Cisco technologies, but you also learn how to present and sell these solutions. After just a couple months, you’re already helping our customers further digitize their business using our solutions. On top of that, there’s a great atmosphere between all the trainees. And Amsterdam is an amazing city to live in!

Ida: I spent this year in another great city – Stockholm. I can only agree that it was a great introduction to Cisco. Especially coming from a non-technical background, the skills (and network) I have learned during the time in Stockholm is super valuable. The program was both intense and fun, it was full of different tasks, which really led to self-development. Outside Cisco there were also great possibilities to discover more of Sweden and the Nordics, I finished 90km cross-country skiing with some of my colleagues during the time there and joined a local football team. Swedes love being healthy and work life balance, so there is a great environment for doing more of that.

And how about your daily work now after your graduated from the program? Can you tell us more about what your work looks like?

Ida: Today, I work as an Account Manager in our Danish Enterprise Team (covering the 40 largest enterprises in Denmark). I am responsible for a number of those accounts, which includes engaging the right technical resources, strategically advise customers in their digitization process, and of course position Cisco solutions and agree to purchase models. In order to do that successfully it is important to have a great relationship with the customers, the different Cisco teams and our partners. Thereby a lot of my time is also spent on connecting these resources, aligning and understanding their different viewpoints and motives, and how we together can create the most valuable solutions.

Maarten: As a Cisco Systems Engineer specialized in our collaboration portfolio, I talk with customers to figure out how their employees work and communicate. We discuss how we can work together to make their employees more productive and give them extra flexibility. For example, we can fully enable remote working and globally distributed teams. Since we sell our solutions via IT partners, I also regularly work with them. I deliver technology update sessions, help them with their technical questions and work on initiatives to expand and develop our business. I have a lot of flexibility to work when, where and how I want, as long as I achieve my set out targets.

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