Who knew you can be an inventor with 7 patents (and more pending), a CTO, fencing and rowing enthusiast, world traveler, and a high-powered executive all at the same time? It’s possible. Meet Monique Morrow:

Q 1:  Who was your first female mentor and how did she help you?

A 1 :  My mother. She was my advocate from the very beginning.  She told me that whatever you do, be candid to you and don’t lose yourself.  She really (was) my anchor and that’s important to have.  Also, not many know I used to struggle with stuttering. Just learning to speak in front of an audience was big deal.  She always said that we could move through this together as a family. She is my greatest advocate.

Q 2:  You are currently CTO-Evangelist of new frontiers for Cisco. What does this mean and how did you land the role?

A 2:  It’s actually CTO of my brand, New Frontiers that is defining the intersection with the economy, technology, and research, to what could lead to new portfolios for Cisco. What is important here is that you have to have economy and technology. One example, is, what do we do with circular economy? Take the reusability of materials– what if we created a new model of consumption for our channel partners? This is precisely what I’m talking about.

The inverse is something that’s interesting. The exponential economy.  Could we imagine creating more jobs faster than losing them? There would be implications to education, a company, to governments, and the industry overall.  I think its pretty forward thinking. 

I am in Cisco’s Chief Technology and Architecture Office Engineering Team with overall charter responsible for defining the architectures for the company, to include all of the business possibilities, focusing on our customers and partners within diverse ecosystems. We establish technology, vision, and strategy for Development through cross-functional engagement, close customer interactions, and external out-reach which enables revenue opportunities, leads disruptive innovation transition, and captures customer mindshare.

Q 3:  You are speaking at the upcoming Catalyst Conference! Give us a glimpse of what you will be discussing.

A 3:  I’m going to dive into the importance of STEM. It’s a SHE economy. We know the numbers.  It’s not about the encouragement of stem in education, but how do we retain and grow women technologists? … Especially if you have women joining established firms, you have to start with the stats,  We posted our numbers of women growing in engineering, and examined how we grow up the ranks. In 10 years we haven’t moved that much.  

Cisco believes we need to move faster on the overall issue. It’s a universal topic, so how do we create nurturing environments that are welcoming unbiased behaviors so that everyone is heard? We’ve got to do it together as an industry. We have to be willing to show that it progressively gets tougher. We have the data. I believe we need to review the system overall e.g. it’s about awareness to unbiased behaviors overall.  

The other thing is this:  If you use an iPad or an iPhone, why not create a fun app? Why not be the inventor?  You can be a part of that and more, the more present you are in the field.  The bottom line is if you are passionate about something, it’s gonna carry you. For instance, I work with a lady who is a classical musician by training, but a top employee in security and data government. Go with what you’re passionate about and you can’t fail.

Q 4:  So you’re also an inventor…is this true that you have 7 patents? Congrats on this!! What patent are you most proud of and why?

A 4:  Yes, I have a few patents and I am very proud of that! It’s been great doing this with co-inventors and looking at the possibilities.  I am most proud of the patent, “Collecting network performance data from multiple autonomous systems,” – Patent #8,265,074. This one is very applicable for federation cloud constructs.   

Q 5:  You also know 4 languages…Okay…what do you do for fun and what’s been the best fun venture to date?

A 5: I love that question!  There are two things:

1. I row when I am in Zurich for the Zurich Rowing Club. There is a group of 4 of us ladies in the industry.  We meet up on Sundays to row 11 KM, then have brunch.

2.  Learning to Fence Sabre! I’m learning with a 4-time, 2004 Athens Hungarian Olympian Silver Medalist, Zsolt Nemcsikcirca.  I just love the fun of the sport itself. Of course there’s lots of coordination activity, and footwork.  We have a group of two of us who meet  for an hour training, then it’s match time!  It’s fun repeating exercises.

…and of course, I also love to attend movies and the opera.

…And we are loving that you will be at Catalyst.GirlsInTech.Org (25% off with gitccmem25 code) to speak to us in more depth! Thanks for the interview, Monique and we’ll be tweeting @MJMorrow & @Cisco soon.