Cisco's Nina Lualdi: balancing innovation and culture.

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NINA LUALDI is Cisco's Sr. Director, Strategic Innovation and an advisor to start-up companies in Silicon Valley and Latin America. In the past three years, she has helped lead the Latin America strategy to develop new markets and drive transformational opportunities through customer, partner and start-up co-innovation.

She is the recipient of the 2016 HITEC Top 50 award presented to the most influential leaders in Latin America and Spain's IT industry. With more than two decades of experience managing complex, multicultural and multi-geographic transformation initiatives on a global scale, Ms. Lualdi has managed some of the most critical strategic initiatives within Cisco. Here she shares her thoughts on how to effect change in an industry driven by constant innovation, while staying firmly grounded to your roots.

High tech is at an important inflexion point today, primarily driven by the advent of cloud and cloud-based applications in conjunction with the Internet of Things and the rapid evolution in artificial intelligence. But unlike previous technology waves that focused mostly on back-end processes and business models, technology today is much more about the human experience. Almost everything we know and do in the larger world is technology-driven in some way. The result is a more consumer-driven society that is more and more dependent on technology every day.

All of this makes it extremely important that technology companies understand the customer; and more and more, the customer is diverse--coming from different parts of the world, with different cultural backgrounds, and different life experiences. This is where diversity and inclusion in your employee population is a huge advantage.

Latinos represent a large and growing percentage of the US population, and Latin America is an increasingly important and lucrative market. Because of this, it is important that Latinos are represented in the companies that are creating technology solutions for these markets.

Companies that truly understand the significance of diversity and the importance of diverse perspectives are the ones that will succeed. And the most successful companies will be those that not only seek diversity, but create an inclusive environment where every employee can bring his or her whole self to work.

There is a unique and historic opportunity in high tech today because of the fast pace and global nature of technology solutions. For employees willing to gain the...

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