Driving Transformational Change at Cisco

Francine Katsoudas is the driving force in transforming human resources and creating an innovative experience for 73,000 employees at worldwide technology leader Cisco.

Katsoudas’ colleagues describe her as an agent of change in driving large scale growth, talent acquisition, leadership development, and succession planning. They say she’s taken the company on a journey of incredible change, moving traditional human resources into an innovative, strategic partnership with its employees.

As Cisco’s senior vice president and chief people officer, she drives a more inclusive culture. Katsoudas says she strives to scale inclusion and collaboration in everything the company does. “Part of being a leader is empowering your teams, eliminating bias, and ensuring that everyone feels welcome, valued, respected, and heard,” Katsoudas said. “My role is to create the leaders and environment that recognizes the power of individuals, diversity, and teams.”

During her 20 years with Cisco, Katsoudas is known for taking risks for Cisco to be competitive and attractive to current and future employees. She spearheaded one of the company’s biggest internal transformations, eliminating the traditional performance management system and moving to a more informal approach focused on employee development and creating opportunities.

Katsoudas says all leaders require followers. “To me, the qualities that differentiate leaders are self-awareness, greater purpose and vision, and building amazing teams,” she said. “I greatly respect leaders who put their teams first.”

As a member of Cisco’s Executive Leadership Team, she partners with the company’s top executives on business and HR related projects. Within the company she’s known as a strong believer of listening, and the driving force behind an environment where employees are heard by executives, managers and their teams.

Katsoudas serves on the San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum Board. She holds a B.A. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. Words she lives by – gratitude, learning, sisterhood and empathy.