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Company: Cisco
Category:Recruiting or Talent Acquisition Professional of the Year

Nomination Title: Cisco's VP Global Talent Acquisition Kelly Jones



Kelly Jones’s career at Cisco could be the textbook definition of talent agility. She is always looking for the next opportunity to use her skills to help the business be its best self. She’s held many roles, from leading the University Recruiting function to then leading the talent strategy for the Sales business. Then getting promoted this year to the new VP of Talent Acquisition, which she is now calling Join and Connect – looking at the entire candidate process. During the last year, however, she modeled the “agile workforce” goal that Cisco’s Chief People Officer has put forth, taking on a half- year stretch assignment to become the interim Chief HR Officer for Global Citizen, through Cisco’s partnership with the non- profit.

This all happened during a time of change at Cisco – a new operating model was in the works. Kelly didn’t approach the opportunity from a place of wondering what her role would be when she returned, she knew Cisco had her back, and she approached the new role with her former- business- owner, start- up mentality. She was also able to implement new projects for Global Citizen using her insight into Cisco’s successful strategies.

Those at Cisco know about Kelly’s passion for activism and social justice, which is why, when Global Citizen approached Cisco’s Chief People Officer about needing help with their HR function, Kelly got a phone call. Kelly has also expressed interest in becoming a CHRO herself someday, so in the two weeks after that call, Kelly had set up a succession plan for her Cisco role, worked out a travel plan with her family, found a place to live in NYC (she calls Denver home) and had started to work on Global Citizen’s workforce planning, the search for a permanent CHRO and stand up a recruiting function that addressed world- wide challenges.

As is often the case with “givers” – the focus is externally on how they can help, and often not on internal needs. Kelly came to Global Citizen and helped them focus on the people first – she met with nearly all of the 120 global employees to get their input. A top- down vision statement existed, but Kelly helped with “mission involvement” from the employees to discover the differentiator for their talent.

Global Citizen’s plan for 2020 (pre pandemic) was six fundraising concerts/event in September, and each event creates a “leave behind” workforce to continue the work. Kelly had to look at the composition of the workforce in Nigeria, Lagos and other key geographies to see what roles were needed, how many roles, etc. She brought in Randstad as a key partner for the recruiting piece (which ramped up within two weeks) so she could focus not just on the work, but the people at the non- profit. She implemented leadership development programs with Global Citizen’s CEO Hugh Evans, bringing a version of Cisco’s successful “Leader Day” program and leadership training to help them learn to turn their focus internally to help with their external mission. Additionally, she helped with executive training. Kelly also identified the non- profit’s new CHRO within 4 months, staying on while the new CHRO onboarded.