A 25-year IT veteran and 20- year Cisco executive, Talreja has extensive experience in general management, strategy consulting and operations, and she has helped guide Cisco business teams through many inflection points. In 2009, she ran and launched the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition. During her leadership, the VblockTM Infrastructure Platforms—the jointly developed VCE solution—helped propel VCE to $10 million in business in just four months, along with a pipeline of $100 million in deals.

What’s the definition of diversity in 2014, and how can the cable industry do better in the area of inclusiveness?

Diversity today is no longer defined in the traditional ways of gender, race or capabilities. Rather, it is more an inclusive mindset and an appreciation for diversity of input, experiences and of course always a global perspective.  With the rapid-fire pace of today’s business environment – including the cable industry – we can all do a better job in having a consistent, inclusive lense into our daily work life and as we interact with our colleagues, customers and business partners.

What’s been your company’s biggest innovation this year? 

Without a doubt it would be Cisco’s Intercloud announcement earlier this year.  Cisco Intercloud enables enterprises and providers to create flexible and agile hybrid clouds by allowing the seamless movement of workloads — such as storage, compute, and applications — across different clouds, as needed. Cisco Intercloud is a breakthrough hybrid-cloud solution that paves the way for interoperable and highly secure public, private, and hybrid clouds.

Who has been your strongest mentor, and why?

I have been fortunate to have many mentors throughout my career, but I would say my best mentor came into my life at a major inflection point when I had the opportunity to move out of information systems and build my skills to become a General Manager. This leader was direct with me on how to grow myself, coached me on navigating through the corporation as a woman, internalize my strengths and build my brand. I continue to be true to who I am versus trying to be what I am not.

What qualities do you look for when making a new hire?

The pace of change and innovation within the IT and cable industries is faster than ever. So it is essential that a new hire embraces change, is comfortable with business agility, is smart and understands the importance of applying technology solutions to help our customers rapidly achieve positive business outcomes.  At Cisco, we believe everyone can and should be a leader and we have a leadership framework called C-LEAD for Cisco which provides a blueprint  to help all employees develop what we believe are key leadership skills.

Name one emerging trend in cable we should all have our eye on.

I would say opportunities around Smart + Connected Cities, because this is where Cable will have an advantage because they have a powered network.  The inherent scalability, flexibility, reliability and time and cost savings of Cable can help accelerate the growth of many types of ‘smart connected’ solutions.

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