Simmons Leadership Blog

Celebrating Your Success with Debbie Dunnam

dunnam.jpgDebbie Dunnam, Senior Vice President of Americas Services Sales at Cisco, leads a diverse organization with responsibility for all technical and professional services sales, channel partner sales, and field marketing in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. During her tenure, she has steadily advanced through several leadership positions, including heading up the Go To Market Shared Services organization, the Worldwide Customer Operations team, Cisco Services Sales in the US Enterprise, Commercial, and Canada customer base, the Inside Services Sales team, and the US Cisco Services Partner Organization sales group. Dunnam participates in multiple inclusion and diversity efforts, both inside the company and within the partner community. With more than 25 years of IT experience, she has held executive positions in other industry-leading companies including HP and Dell.

Debbie took the time to answer some questions about jumping the curve, work/life balance tips, and much more!

What woman do you most admire? What has she taught you?
My mother. She taught me about hard work, perseverance, independence, and how to be a self-starter. She started her career after she had successfully raised most of her 4 children. She first started a catering business, which became very successful. Then, she became a real estate agent in Michigan and one of the top agents for 25 years. When she and my Dad joined us in Texas, she launched her business from scratch yet again. Within two years, she was a top-producing agent. She currently has had her Texas real estate business for 14+ years. I learned a tremendous amount watching her start and build a business - twice!
Was there a turning point in your career when you "jumped the curve," breaking an old pattern to change the course of your career? What did you learn from that experience?
I've had a few twists and turns in my career, and many were made by choice. Throughout my career, I've focused on building a diverse set of experiences by participating or leading cross-functional efforts that drove innovative new business approaches. Each opportunity has been an incredibly rewarding experience. It's the one piece of career advice I often give to others - build a diverse set of experiences and functional skill sets and exposures.
I've always found rotations to be a wonderful way to expose myself to new perspectives, experiences, and ideas, while allowing me to bring my expertise and perspectives to a larger effort. One of the most rewarding turns I made was a rotation opportunity to lead the creation and pilot of a global go-to-market shared service for Cisco.
In this role, our team created and executed global processes designed to maximize efficiency and drive optimization within Cisco, for our customers and for our partners. We provided high-quality, consistent services that made it easier for our customers and partners to do business with Cisco.
This opportunity was extremely rewarding because I could help Cisco's customers and partners, an area I'm extremely passionate about. Equally important, the pilot's success spearheaded Cisco's decision to develop broad-based global shared services throughout the company.
What was the last book you read?
The China Study - the biggest, most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted on its impact on long-term health. I'm always interested in the latest findings related to diet and health. My husband and I try to lead a healthy lifestyle - in the natural and organic ingredients in our cooking and our focus on fitness.
Any tips for work/life balance?
A few tips I would provide to achieve work/life integration:
  1. Know your goals and objectives to achieve happiness. It's important to know what makes you happy and make that a priority in your life.
  2. Build and support the community that you need to achieve your goals. Your friends, family, and community not only can support you along the way, they can be your biggest collaborators, partners and encouragement.
  3. Prioritize, commit, execute, and celebrate your success. You can't do it all, so select the few things you are most passionate about, commit 100%, deliver results and most importantly, celebrate your success! Be proud of what you've accomplished. Prioritize.
If you could dine with anyone, past or present, with whom would you dine and what would you order?
Albert Einstein, because he's Jim's (my husband's) favorite scientist and I could ask him all the physics questions Jim is interested in. I would bring him to my favorite restaurant in Austin - Uchiko. They make the most amazing and innovative sushi.
Fill in the blank. People would be surprised to know that..
  • I never go anywhere without sparkling water, especially Pellegrino (preferably with ice), my iPhone, and my iPad.
  • I was the 1977 Bavarian Princess in Frankenmuth, Michigan, for our annual Bavarian Festival in June. I rode on parade floats and introduced Marv Harzog and the Polka Boys to the crowd at the festival.
  • If I could have any talent in the world, it would be singing. I love music of many, many types and love to sing along, but only when no one else is around because my singing makes my cat howl, small children cry, and adults run away!

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