Cisco Canada president Bernadette Wightman with Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Published: March 4th, 2016

SAN DIEGO, CA. – Cisco Canada president Bernadette Wightman was in Ottawa recently and presented an opportunity to meet with Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada.

Wightman told CDN she felt privileged to rub shoulders with the newly-elected leader.

“Mr. Trudeau was very gracious with his time and we had a little chat. He understands our company and the importance of digitization and innovation, which being at Cisco is part of our DNA. He said its going to be an area of focus for the government and the country.

Wightman has been very open about her desire to help make Canada the first digital country in North America.

A big step in that direction was opening of the new Cisco Canada offices and the Innovation Centre in downtown Toronto earlier this year. The Cisco building is the smartest building in North America, she said and its been getting a steady stream of visitors daily. More than 100 customer visits have been planned for March and April and those include American companies who wish to see the Toronto facility over the one in San Jose.

The next phase of Wightman’s plan to digitize Canada is to build innovation rooms at Cisco offices in Vancouver, Halifax, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa.

Prime Minister Trudeau has give his voice to furthering the digitization strategy of cities and smaller communities. In 2015, Trudeau said the government needs to look at ways to expand the network of smart cities across Canada.

He said, “the future of our communities – and by extension, the future success and prosperity of Canada – relies on the smart adoption and deployment of data and technology. I would even argue that in 2015, it’s impossible to have good government without good data. Successful organizations collect data so that they know what is working and what isn’t. They set targets, measure progress, assess the effectiveness of programs, report publicly on results, and adjust, renew, cancel or expand programs based on evidence.”

Wightman also wanted to point out about the Trudeau meeting that it wasn’t just about her. “I represent the whole company in Canada and the employees. This is important to me and my team who do a fabulous job and this meeting was more about the company and not about me,” she said.

Early in career

Besides digitization Wightman is also working to improve diversity programs at Cisco Canada. She recently to hire 30 people who are 27 years-of-age or younger with diverse backgrounds.

The initiative is called Early-in-Career and the strategy behind it is to bring in the next-generation of workers. These new hires were part of Cisco Canada’s summer internship program. “They are the future. They have energy and passion. We have a fantastic workforce and it’s already a diverse team but we want to create a special magic and these 30 interns we are going to take them in full-time into the business and sort of create the diversity ourselves,” she said.