Cisco's Yvette Kanouff: sponsoring minorities and women.

Position:Interview
 
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In March 2016, Yvette Kanouff was named the Senior Vice President/General Manager of the Service Provider Business. Kanouff leads the development strategy for Cisco's Systems, Inc. Service Provider segment, including core routing, switching and optical networking, network and service virtualization, service provider access networks for mobility, cable, wireless, cloud, and video software and solutions. She leads a global team of engineers, architects, product line managers, technical marketing engineers, and business development managers delivering innovation for the service provider customer segment.

Previously, Kanouff was the Senior Vice President/General Manager of Cloud Solutions, where she led teams focused on cloud virtualization, cloud infrastructure services, and service provider video. She joined Cisco in 2014 as the Senior Vice President/General Manager of Cisco's Service Provider Video Software and Solutions Group.

When and why did you start collaborating with Cisco? What has the experience been like? I was a Cisco customer when I was at Time Warner and at Cablevision. Cisco has always been a technology partner, involved in many innovation projects and technology shifts.

What was given to you in terms of advice or mentorship that pushed you to where you are today? I have been fortunate enough to have many mentors and champions. It is something I am very grateful for. I remember my first mentor--he introduced me to his entire network within our industry. He gave me that open door and it was my responsibility to walk through it. It was very special for him to take the time to give me that level of exposure. This is the type of help we need to give to people we mentor and champion.

There are many lessons I have learned from people I admire--too many to mention. But the key to mentorship is sponsorship--not just giving advice, but helping someone along their career journey. I strongly recommend we all help sponsor more minorities and women instead of just mentoring or speaking at events--it will change the numbers and make an impact so quickly.

More on Mentoring: In the past, we have all been focused on being a mentor,--meaning, we touch base and provide advice to one or more individuals. We need to change to becoming champions. This is a very different level of interaction. Imagine the person you are championing as being your daughter, your sister, your close friend--it's a different engagement level in that you really help their...

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