Luis Martinez de Carvajal, digital strategist at Cisco, tells us about his career. He’s vocal on IE University, Richard Branson, Google and making enough noise to be heard at the top.
When speaking about his early career, IE University alum Luis Martínez de Carvajal quoted Richard Branson: «If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes—then learn how to do it later.»
During his last year at IE University, BBA student Luis Martínez de Carvajal first heard about Cisco from a professor. He decided to apply for an internship, was selected, and then offered a position in their graduate program, which he joined after his 2018 graduation. Currently, he is still working at Cisco as a digital strategist.
Throughout his time at IE University, Luis also interned at Google in Dublin, carried out various other internships related to digital marketing, and participated in an exchange program at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.
What can you tell us about working at Cisco after two years there? What role do you occupy, and what does your day to day consist of?
Cisco is a leading company in its sector, offering IT solutions through its vast range of products. For many engineers this company is a dream, because not only do they have the best technology, but also the best employee treatment. We can work from home, the remuneration is very good, and there’s a pension plan. They even give us five days a year to be dedicated to an NGO.
In my case I work in the most technical part of the least technical department, so to speak; marketing. I work as a digital strategist in a role that consists of a mix of data analysis and strategy planning. I’ve joined the Global Advocacy Team, a recently created team that’s already making a lot of noise and winning prizes. We are dedicated to empowering the voice of the consumer, because we believe their message about us is even stronger than ours. I am more convinced by a satisfied customer than the best sales pitch I could ever hear—that’s the basis of our team, and my role is to develop our digital strategy.
How did you find out about the internship opportunity at Cisco while still at university? What about it appealed to you?
I have to be honest, I didn’t know what Cisco was before I applied. I had already signed for another summer internship when our Human Resources subject professor, José Miguel Sánchez, started talking about the best company to work for according to his personal research. As he’s an expert in the field, I started to investigate and realized how wonderful this company was. I found it was the most valuable company on Earth back in 2000, and one of the top ten Nasdaq companies by market cap, right after Google and Amazon. I saw they had won many awards for the best place to work in Spain and worldwide. So I applied, and here I am. This is the great thing about this university—professors add their personal value. They bring their knowledge and it’s up to us to take advantage of it.
We know you also interned at Google Dublin prior to your Cisco internship. What can you tell us about your time interning at Google?
I only have great words for the company. I have wonderful memories of my time there and I truly enjoyed it. Google is an amazing company. In order to get there you need to be what they call a “Googler”, which means you’re thrilled to make an impact in the organization. They have understood that the digital revolution is not about having the best product today, but having the best people and internal processes that will also enable you to have the best product in the future.
I worked as an online consultant for a portfolio of clients, including digital agencies and accounts that Google offered premium support for. I learned the basics of client management, gained some expertise in several Google products like Analytics and Adwords, and led a mobile optimization project that was praised by the leadership team.
My fondest memory is how great my team was, how efficient the internal processes were, and how a company should be run. They say that you learn a lot from failure but I contend you can also learn a lot from successes. You learn how to throw a three-pointer when you hit, not when you fail. I learned much more from Google than the rest of the companies, because I’ve been able to see how efficiency in a team can bring results.
How do you feel your IE University experience and the support of the IEU Talent & Careers team helped you secure both of these internships while studying, and perform during the internships? What do you think are the biggest assets you have taken with you from your time at IE University?
I would rather speak first about the careers team. Since the first day I stepped into this university until the day I left, they were the most useful, helpful and supportive department. They showed me how to write a CV in my first week. They introduced me to the consulting world. They taught me how to interview and how to find or apply for the best opportunities. Furthermore, for every opportunity I had, they always helped me beforehand, connecting me with former students who worked there. And their tips were essential for the interviews. I would like to give a special mention to Victoria Tornos and Laura Simon for their help.
IE University has been extremely important in my professional and personal development. Any business degree should be focused on teaching skills rather than theory, and IE University embraces this. There is no book that will teach you how to run a meeting or overcome the frustration of a difficult project. There is no subject that will show you how complex structuring your time with clients is, or how hard it is to ask your vice president for a larger budget. IE University teaches you thinking methods, hard work and business attitudes, which at the end are all that matter.
How did you secure the full-time opportunity at Cisco after your internship? What has your path at Cisco been like since you started?
I started as an intern and, after six months, I was hired full-time into the graduate program. My role, data analyst, consisted of delivering execution plans and identifying insights for the South EMEAR team. I had to understand what worked well, what didn’t, and make recommendations for improvements. During this time I learned a lot of IT skills, but also got to know the company’s idiosyncrasies, which is key if you want to grow. When I worked with my previous team, I used to support my current team by working extra hours. Over the months, a fantastic opportunity arose and I was lucky that the team stood up to be counted with me.
Richard Branson said, «If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes—then learn how to do it later.» I like to think this is the mindset anyone should develop if they want to be retained by a company. Nothing is based on magic—AI and machine learning follow logic, and we can now text someone 13,000 miles away. The world runs thanks to individuals who have dedicated their time and effort to make things like that work. They are not 30 times smarter than you, they’ve just sacrificed more hours.
Say yes to every opportunity that comes up in your work environment and dedicate as many hours as you can to learn from that experience. In the future, a big opportunity may arise out of those extra projects you dedicated your time to.
What advice would you give to other students interested in interning or working in the sector, and at Cisco specifically?
Grow your IT skills and focus on developing a critical mindset. If engineering students are learning business skills, then why shouldn’t business students learn engineering? The era of a businessperson leading a group of engineers is over, and everybody should have a decent level of programming and data science. Nevertheless, it’ll be on you to study those skills in your own time.
Dedicate the rest of your time to adding value through the concepts you can bring to the table. Everybody can execute an order from his or her manager, but only those who “deep dive” and see the unseen make enough noise to be heard at the top.