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Alessandra (Alex) Sapiz

Cisco’s Experience Maker.

By Gloria Romano-Barrera.

Joining Cisco in 2011, Alessandra (Alex) Sapiz is the Sr. Director, Global Sales Events and Talent (GSET). She is responsible for leading a number of high-profile, strategic partner and sales events. These include Cisco’s annual global sales conference (GSX) for some 18,000 field employees, its Worldwide Partner Summit, as well as the Chairman’s Club and Sales Champion Winners Circles recognition programs. Her team is part of the Sales Strategy and Operations organization.

Sapiz grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, surrounded by creativity and the arts. Her grandmother taught music; her grandfather was a writer and a book critic for the city’s major newspaper. “My roots—my upbringing—taught me to be resourceful in the creative and expressive realms,” she states. “I was always fascinated by language and words, so a life creating content was also a possibility. And here I am today — in many ways, at the intersection of those worlds — designing and producing experiences, which are, in their essence, performances, rich in original and inspiring content.”

With a drive to explore the world beyond her home and family, Sapiz left Brazil when she was 20 years old, to attend an International School of English in Boston.

“I saw learning a new language as critical to continuing my personal growth and spending time living overseas convinced me that life abroad, versus my native Brazil, was a real possibility for me,” she shares. “Even today, in my role at Cisco, designing and producing very large global experiences, I feel I am still applying that resourcefulness that I learned as a child. My success is a function of how I am able to move people, touch their hearts and minds, and inspire them. This has been an important aspect of my entire life.”

Early in her career, Sapiz was given a great leadership lesson during a job interview.

“To say I was nervous would be an understatement,” she shares. “But this woman went out of her way to give me a confidence boost. I was new to the country, the language — and she had many more reasons not to hire me than to go forward. But she said, “I don’t know what it is Alex — but there’s something special about you, and I am going to give you a shot.”

Sapiz never forgot that moment, and today she pays that lesson forward by mentoring several female leaders. For her, collaborating, advising, and mentoring are a vital part of the job. Leading teams to imagine the impossible is the most rewarding part of her day.

Cisco’s strong culture of recognition: Alessandra was called on stage at this year’s GSX and had her team recognized for their significant contributions. Las Vegas, NV, August 2016. Photo by David Shultz.

San Francisco, Calif. November 2016.
Photo by Bart Nagel Photography.

“I work for a company where we are proving every day that culturally diverse teams are higher performing than those who are not,” she states. “And research proves this — a commitment to diversity correlates directly to higher company performance. Cisco’s culture is innovative, entrepreneurial, collaborative. It stimulates creative thinking and rewards risk taking. These values first attracted me to the company and are the reason why I’m here today. I work with the most amazing people and teams every day, travel the globe, and get recognized for my efforts. I have the flexibility to work from home for a company that understands my need for work/life balance.”

Never afraid to take on a new challenge, Sapiz works hard, plans extensively, and assembles world-class teams so she can be confident exploring the unknown, ready for any eventuality.

“Leaving my family, my roots, and core identity behind at a very young age was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she states. “But the experience taught me so much and made my life much richer. A few years ago, I was involved in a large and risky project, and I came across a quote that stuck with me and quickly became my inspiration: “Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor. That has been my north star since then. Rough seas? Bring it on, I’m ready!”

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