Yvette Kanouff, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco Service Providers, sees her role as making sure people stay connected, whether through web, mobile, or automation. But she’s just as passionate about her job as she is about promoting diversity in technology. Focus Magazine recently got the chance to get her views about 2018 trends within services providers and the industry as a whole.
Focus Magazine: Tell me about your role as SVP/GM of Cisco Service Providers. It’s a big title. Tell me about your responsibilities.
Yvette Kanouff: I head up the routing, mobile, cable, video, and optical products and P&L for Cisco’s Service Provider business – this includes Web, Mobile, Satellite, and Cable operators worldwide. It is an exciting business, especially given the ongoing bandwidth growth and new areas like 5G, automation, and virtualization.
Focus Magazine: 2017 was a big year—especially with the new portfolio of predictive services powered by AI. Is that where you see the future in machine learning and AI?
Yvette Kanouff: These are critical in the networking space. As our networks are constantly growing (8x Increase in mobile data traffic globally by 2020), we need to enhance our operational tools such that networks can self learn, self manage, and self heal. Machine learning and AI are key factors in this area.
Focus Magazine: know you were just at CES and talked a lot about automation – and connected cars. Tell me what excites you so much about this space.
As the world is digitizing, automation is the key tenant – how we manage and automate manual processes.Yvette Kanouff: Connectivity is expanding to connected lives – connected cars, manufacturing, mining, retail, fulfillment, and so much more. We offer solutions to enable connected ‘things’ as well as manage them. As the world is digitizing, automation is the key tenant – how we manage and automate manual processes. Cisco’s solutions for IOT and management and networking are critical in this transition.
Focus Magazine: Now let’s look ahead to this year—I’ve heard you say that we’re in a transformational time. What trends do you see rising up in the service provider industry?
Yvette Kanouff: With the growth in IP traffic, which is moving closer to the customer (metro from 22% in 2016 to 35% in 2021) – as a result we have some major industry transitions – moving from a hardware centric approach to a more software, virtualized, and automated approach to digitizing. These allow us to embrace scale and simplification.
Focus Magazine: Now let’s talk about gender equality – it has been a huge issue and will continue to be one in 2018— You’ve been a leader in promoting diversity in tech—and taking real substantive action. Tell me about some of the work you’ve done in this area that you’re most proud of?
Yvette Kanouff: I have participated and created various mentoring programs, and I am executive sponsor for our Latino ERO, but I am the most excited about our new sponsorship program called the Multiplier effect. Sponsorship is so much more powerful than mentorship – this is what we need for all forms of diversity.
Focus Magazine: I’ve heard you talk about not just being a mentor and sponsor of emerging leaders, but actually becoming champions. Tell me what that means exactly.
Yvette Kanouff: A mentor gives great advice. A sponsor takes ownership – helps a person over their hurdles and helps them get that next role.
Focus Magazine: Let’s also talk about your commitment to overall diversity in tech— and your involvement in HITEC. Tell me what that organization is and why it’s important for you to be a part of it.
Yvette Kanouff: HITEC is the Hispanic IT Executive Council. It is a global organization comprised of senior business and IT executives focused on helping build executive leaders, teams, and organizations in an increasingly IT-centric world. It is important for all of us to participate and help others – especially in environments where such help does not come naturally, or which is under represented.
Focus Magazine: You have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics- did you grow up with a passion in science and math?
Yvette Kanouff: I did not. I learned to love mathematics from my 8th grade Math teacher who made me solve an algebraic equation on the board in front of my class. He showed me how fun and easy it is. I think of this often – it’s a great example of how every individual matters and how we can all help in simple ways.
Focus Magazine: Senior VP is just one of your many titles—you’re also a Mom. What are some of the most important values you that you try and impress upon them?
Yvette Kanouff: Self confidence in what they wish to pursue. Our next generation is so innovative and creative, they look at problems in a whole different way – this is so important to harness and encourage. I look forward to seeing how they will make everything we have worked so hard to create become better, faster, easier.
Focus Magazine: When you’re not leading Cisco’s SP business and raising your family—what do you do to unwind?
Yvette Kanouff: I love to read – I also love to fish and ski. Mostly I cherish getting to spend time with my family – even if it is not doing anything special at all.