Empowering through technology: Laura Quintana: vice president, corporate affairs Cisco.


Laura joined Cisco in 1999 and currently leads the company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) field operations worldwide. She and her team, based in 40 countries, help shape and drive public-private partnerships to design, implement, and operate strategic CSR programs in the areas of IT education and economic empowerment in 170 countries around the world. These programs reach well over one million beneficiaries each year with annual in-kind contributions valued at over $240M USD. Laura holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Stanford University and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their three children.

What was given to you in terms of advice or mentorship that pushed you to where you are today?

The best advice I ever received was from my mom. She passed away 21 years ago, but the values she taught me are still with me. My parents immigrated as adults to the US from Mexico and my mother never studied past middle school because she had to go to work at an early age. She did not speak English well and never learned to drive so I was her primary interpreter and we took public transportation everywhere together. I was extremely close to her growing up. She encouraged me to soar by emphasizing the value of education and the importance of working hard to achieve your goals, and always told me that "querer es poder" (where there is a will there is a way) and "nadie te puede quitar tu educacion" (no one can take away your education). She also taught me to treat everyone with respect and dignity, and if I ever strayed from this, she was quick to put me in my place. Thanks to her guidance I was the first in my family to go to college and studied engineering at Stanford. Even today, I look at every big challenge as an opportunity to learn something new and to make an impact.

What are your most important work and professional values?

To have a career where I can provide leadership and work with people and teams in a challenging and exciting environment (1 get bored easily); to provide value that is appreciated by others; and to do work that feeds my soul and benefits people and their communities. I feel very fortunate to be working at Cisco, within a culture that enables teams to thrive, and in a position where my team positively impacts over 1 million students annually.

What is it like being a woman in the Tech field?

There's never been a better time for women in technology! As a woman, Latina, and mother of...

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