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Jacqueline Guichelaar – CIO for CISCO shares with us Cisco’s response to Covid-19 and a whole lot more

Jacqueline Guichelaar , a South American, Ozzie expat lives and works in the valley In one of the top jobs as the CIO of Cisco.

She shares with us  Cisco’s response to COVID-19, 

what it means to be an effective tech chief today and a bit about  the importance of diversity, inclusion and balance.

How did this CIO facilitate a secure remote working for all of the company’s 140,000 staff – as well as some 30,000 contractors and an entire community of supply chain workers within 10 days? ( up from between 10,000 and 20,000 prior to the crisis.)

Without Cisco’s own deep expertise and technology would take 6-12 months to achieve the same “without the right underlying technology platform.”

“We’re using some SaaS offerings we don’t build ourselves. We’re buying more commodity software and infrastructure where we need to,” she says.


Invariably being the CIO of a technology firm demands that you have some part in actual product development.

Guichelaar is one of the key voices in Cisco’s  ‘Customer Zero’ initiative, which brings her and the IT team together with all the engineers bringing ideas to life in the labs, and then figuring out how to scale them for customer deployment.

“I’m injecting the team further into the development life cycle.”

This in turn ensures she has a complete understanding and hands-on experience with every aspect of the portfolio, knowledge she is frequently asked to draw on in yet another role as an enterprise solutions consultant.

The concept is that all products and services Cisco sell to other CIOs around, Guichelaar – and Cisco – are also customers.

“We could potentially provide advice on things that don’t look like they’re working,” she explains, adding “CIOs often ask questions like ‘how did you deploy App Dynamics’?”

Previous  experience

From IBM to banking , holding positions at major banks From Deutsche Bank in Europe, London and New York for three year, to Lloyd’s Bank in London, then back to Melbourne as GM for NABs technology operations. 

She reflects that while the finance sector is clearly at the vanguard of digital transformation and innovation, its inherent regulatory and security constraints contrast sharply with the tech sector, making it relatively harder to drive change, finding a balance between security, speed and agility.”

Now with over year in the top tech job at Cisco Guichelaar says: “I’ve found a nice convergence of how tech companies run their organisations and how banks run their organisations and how to bring both worlds into one.”

It all about customer experience, networking, security and collaboration 

It’s all about creating a great CX. How to give customers what they want and need in an easy way. It’s about putting the customer first 

“ it’s the concept of self-service CX and how to you allow a customer to buy solutions that make it really easy for them to buy, download and implement,” she says.

Guichelaar has been closely involved with the development of Cisco.com, and notes the power of one its simplest capabilities.

“If a small customer in Australia goes onto Cisco.com, we should be able to identify them and send them to our people in Australia. A big enterprise customer on the other hand will likely be routed to the international sales team.”

Looking ahead to the next five years, Guichelaar believes that conversations about technology will be even more dominated by networks, collaboration and security.  

“The ability to be able to transact in a digitised way means we design our networks, security and collaboration to be at the centre of everything we do,” she says.

COVID-19 will accelerate this transition even further.

“More people will communicate and collaborate via the internet into the future – and we need to make this easy for them to do in a safe secure way” 

Diversity Inclusion and Balance 

Fighting for her own voice – whether in English, Spanish and Italian – has always come naturally for Jacqui Guichelaar – an Ozzie , born in Uruguay, working in the male dominated IT field in the Valley has become one of the  highest profile – and influential – CIOs working today. 

According to the 2018 ‘Harvey Nash KPMG CIO survey’ women held just 12 per cent of senior IT roles across the globe.

Jacqui cautions against forms of affirmative action such as quotas, arguing that organisations need to think more in terms of ‘diversity of thought” 

Music is a way of life for this South American Ozzie Female! 

When not working , you can see Jacqueline grooving to the tunes  as a DJ spinning the decks , creating the vibe!!!

For full article click here to CIO magazine 

Posted on May 3, 2020

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