NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / January 11, 2023 / Cisco Systems
2022 Cisco Live Dream Team
This blog is part of our series focusing on The People Behind Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Each blog highlights a different Cisco employee whose work has had a positive impact on people, communities, or the planet.
Cisco Networking Academy is one of the world’s largest and longest-running purpose-driven IT skills employment programs, impacting the lives of more than 3 million learners (17.5 million since inception) in 190 countries each year. 95% of learners attribute their participation in the program to helping them get a job or education opportunity.
On October 18, 2022, Networking Academy celebrated its 25th anniversary and announced an ambitious goal to equip 25 million learners with digital and cybersecurity skills training over the next ten years for in-demand jobs be prepared. Networking Academy aligns with Cisco’s purpose of building an inclusive future for all, one learner at a time.
In 1999, in the early days of the program, as an instructor teaching Cyber Academy courses to college students in the Rhode Island community and in her current role as Director of Business Operations – Lynn Bloomer’s service and commitment to empowering learners through technology and education has been profound. Recently, I met with Lynn to learn more about her story.
Can you share with me some of your early background? Who/what are your biggest influences?
Lynn: I grew up in a small coastal town in southern Rhode Island. There is an endless stream of tourists who come to our town for vacation, but there are not many residents who live all the year round. I went to Kindergarten with the group of kids who graduated from high school. It’s the kind of town everyone knows.
My immediate family is small with my dad, mom, sister and me. Growing up, I admired my sister who was four years older than me. She was very protective of me. My parents have always supported me. I have a large family – my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins also provide a great support system. My family has had a huge impact on the decisions I make and the direction of my life.
What sparked your interest in technology?
Lynn: I left Rhode Island to attend college at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, where I completed my BS in Electrical Engineering. I followed in the footsteps of my family – my father was an electrical engineer and my sister also got her BSEE at Villanova University. My first job out of college was as a litigation consultant in New York. Most of the work I do has nothing to do with my educational background.
The company I work for in New York has six offices across the US, and this was before we had email. That was the time when the internet was just starting to take off. If my office in New York is working on a case and we need help from someone in another office, we have to save the file on a floppy disk and send it to them via FedEx so they can make changes.
When I started thinking about doing a master’s degree, I was really interested in how we could use technology to connect all these offices over the network so that people can collaborate more effectively no matter where they are. I went back to Villanova University and decided to finish my MS in Computer Engineering.
How did you join Networking Academy?
Lynn: When I got my master’s degree, I had the opportunity to teach review courses for engineers and training exams. All goes well and I love it. So my chair invited me to teach a full advanced electrical engineering course. As a graduate student, my day job was to maintain the University’s laboratories, and my night job was to teach students as a part-time lecturer.
Ultimately, my husband and I decided to move back to Rhode Island after being away for about a decade. It was my husband who encouraged me to apply for a full-time teaching position because he observed how excited I would be to be back working the night shift at Villanova. Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) is the perfect choice.
When I was teaching at CCRI, Cisco came to sell us their new Networking Academy program. The course was shared with us on floppy disk so we could evaluate it and decide if we wanted to take it. We decided to move forward with the program. CCRI becomes the first college in Rhode Island. I taught my first Networking Academy course in 1999.
Tell me how your role at Networking Academy has changed and developed throughout your career.
Lynn: Since the Networking Academy program is just getting started, Cisco will bring in a lot of instructors for help. I was still teaching full-time at CCRI when I was invited to intern at Cisco for a few hours a week writing assessment questions. The program grew rapidly and I was hired by Cisco in 2000 for a full-time position as CCNA/CCNP Product Manager.
It took me almost a month to decide whether to leave teaching because I enjoyed working with students and planned to retire. But Cisco’s opportunity appears unique. I love making an impact in the classroom, but being part of the larger Networking Academy team is attractive as it will allow me to expand my reach and increase my impact. Also, I was able to stay at CCRI as a part-time lecturer. Although I work full-time at Cisco, I went on to teach at CCRI for over 15 years.
I later transitioned into Networking Academy’s Business Architect and Process Manager, which allowed me to represent the needs of the instructors as well as the needs of the business, and then take a few years off to stay home with my young daughter. In 2008, I returned to Cisco as part of another team. In 2012, I got a call from a colleague who invited me to interview for the position of Program Manager, Strategy and Planning, Corporate Affairs.
By 2014, I was back at Networking Academy. In a sense, I feel like I’m at home. I am currently working as Director of Business Operations. I drive strategy and lead a team responsible for the delivery of several Networking Academy services. Other key responsibilities include providing client support, legal support, student career services and business transformation. Annual planning, budget management, talent management and forecasting are also part of my scope of work.
Has being a woman in tech affected your experience? how so?
Lynn: When I was in college, there weren’t many women in electrical engineering. Out of 55 to 60 students, we were like 4 or 5 of us. My school was very supportive and the teachers did not treat us differently than our peers. I never felt out of place. I think a lot of it goes back to my early influences – my parents instilled a lot of confidence in me and my sister. While I admit that I’ve always been part of a minority as a woman in tech, I’ve never felt like anything was beyond my reach.
My advice to young women interested in a career in technology is to realize that you can be anything you set your mind to. Otherwise don’t let anyone tell you. If you work hard, if you have determination and commitment – you will succeed.
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Speaker: Cisco Systems, Inc.
source: Cisco Systems
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