Francine Katsoudas, the Executive Vice President and Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer at Cisco, is a trailblazer in the tech industry, known for her unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive future for all. With 27 years of dedicated service to Cisco, her journey exemplifies the power of continuous learning and belief in one's potential.
Starting her career at Cisco's contact center over two decades ago, her initial role involved providing first-level technical support, despite lacking technical experience. She attributes her success to Cisco's belief in her capacity to learn and grow. Her career trajectory is a testament to the principle that experience is the cornerstone of empowerment. Each role she undertook was a learning opportunity, and she approached it with the question, "What have I learned, and what do I still need to learn?"
Fifteen years into her journey, she ascended to the role of Chief People Officer, where she now spearheads crucial functions in the People, Policy,and Purpose Organization. Her purview includes people and communities, sustainability, social impact, government affairs, policy, workplace resources, and country digital acceleration. This strategic alignment reflects Cisco's holistic care for its people and its aspiration to be a trusted global partner, impacting communities worldwide in line with its purpose.
In recent years, Katsoudas’s focus has been on hybrid work models and work-life balance. Cisco, which had already embraced virtual work, seamlessly transitioned to a remote setup during the pandemic. Data showing that promotion velocity remained constant regardless of whether employees worked remotely or on-site supported this shift. She underscores the company's commitment to decentralized decision-making, emphasizing the importance of leaders making team-centric choices and fostering a culture of experimentation.
Moreover, Cisco's conscious culture plays a pivotal role in empowering women in their careers. She believes that every employee contributes to the company's culture, making it essential to openly address what needs improvement. A significant stride towards employee well-being has been the inclusion of a mental health professional in monthly meetings. This initiative has normalized discussions about mental health, leading to empowered employees who prioritize their mental well-being at work.
Looking ahead to 2023, Katsoudas has set three ambitious goals. Foremost among them is her dedication to facilitating leaders in making informed decisions regarding hybrid work. Additionally, she is committed to building resilient communities by ensuring Cisco's involvement in sustainable success. Lastly, she aims to elevate the discourse on well-being and career advancement by placing a renewed focus on people.
Beyond her professional achievements, Katsoudas is a social justice activist, championing causes such as women's leadership, homeless youth, and Latino rights. Her journey is a testament to the transformative power of continuous learning, advocacy for inclusivity, and the prioritization of employee well-being. Residing in the Bay Area with her family, including her husband and two children, she is a beacon of inspiration for both the tech industry and the broader professional landscape.