War of The Worlds: Athina Pachatouridi and Leo Knoertzer

By Charles Wahab and Elena Trifonova

Tom Cruise did not study at the LSE. Had he been to the LSE IS department, he would have probably found a better way of beating alien cyborg ships. However, there is a different War of The Worlds going on at the department, with intense battles happening every September, when graduates choose the path to their future careers. And the class of 2013 is no different.

LISA has interviewed four students who have chosen different career paths. Two of them, Athina PachatouridiĀ and Leo Knoertzer have chosen to deep dive into the corporate world, joining Cisco as their newest addition to their sales team. They spoke to the Editorial team and told us about their experience.

Ed.: How was the application process?

AP: It was a long process. First we had to fill in the online application, then record a video talking about our self, before getting to the final stage which is the assessment centre (AC).

Ed: The Assessment Centre is always the most difficult stage for candidates. How was Cisco’s Assessment Centre?

AP:It was a positive experience. Throughout the whole day, the thing that really surprised me was that after every single activity, such as the interview, role play or presentation that the candidates had to complete, the assessors gave us really constructive feedback that made us aware of things we have to change when presenting or when trying to persuade “a client” in the case of the role play. Comparing this experience to other Assessment Centres I’ve been to, the atmosphere was very relaxing and all the assessors were friendly.

Ed: So it was a good experience…

AP:My experience at Cisco has been very positive and I would definitely recommend candidates that are interested in IT to apply. I was alerted about things I have to work on which is something really important to me and something that not all companies do.

Ed: Any advice you’d give future graduates?

AP:A tip that I would give to other candidates is to remember that what the assessors are looking throughout the recruitment process, is for candidates to actually “sell” themselves and to be very confident about the skills and talents they possess. In addition, I believe that it’s really important to show the assessors that you are very interested in the company. Since the AC is also an opportunity for candidates to see if they really “fit” in the company’s culture, I believe that it is essential to ask questions.

Ed: This is going to sound cheeky but how did you find out about Cisco opportunities?

AP: I actually applied to Cisco after LISA invited them to come and give us a presentation šŸ™‚ I don’t think I would have applied if LISA hadn’t organised that.

Ed: So Leo, is your story similar to Athina’s?

LK: I knew of Cisco before their presentation at LSE (I had even sent my application before I knew they were coming) but the presentation was great in as far as it reinforced my desire to join them. I was really compelled by Luke’s presentation on the Internet of Everything –Ā  and he’s actually turned out to be a great boss!

Ed: Interesting, you seem to have had Cisco on your radar early on. Why so?

LK: Cisco are a leader in their industry –Ā  uncontested leader even, some might argue. They offer an incredible training program which is rare today , and very costly for the employer. I think a good graduate training program is extremely valuable for our own career in the long term. The IT industry is undergoing lots of changes so I wanted to be on the forefront of it , as opposed to the “observer” view that most consulting firms offer.

[Editor’s note: Cisco operates in a rapidly changing environment and need to constantly re-invent itself to keep up with the fast pace and exponential growth of the internet infrastructure.]

Ed: So what do you think of their recruitment process?

LK: Application process was (relatively) short and quite straight forward : CV, phone interview, video about yourself, Assessment Centre. It took a long time for Cisco to answer between each stage, but it was very personalized : the HR staff and my future manager knew my first name before even meeting me! The AC was what really made me want to work for Cisco.Ā  I already had an attractive job offer from Deloitte but their AC tipped the balance. It asked to demonstrate varied skills, really challenged me and most of all I received invaluable feedback on my strengths and weaknesses from the managers.

Ed: Did the MISI program help you in the recruitment process or did you have to rely on your charm and good sense of humor?

LK: Mainly charm, but MISI definitely played a huge role on me getting this role, and has already helped fast track my learning on the job, by introducing us to the hot topics in the IT industry (think Cloud, Big Data, Virtualization, Software defined network, etc.) and getting us used to learning lots in a small time frame. But most importantly MISI makes me more likely to succeed with Cisco in the long term by preparing us to bridge business problems with technological solutions.

Ed: So I guess since you are staying in town we can count on seeing you get involved with LISA?

AP: I would be more than happy to get involved with LISA !!

LK: Let’s see how the job goes!

Athina and Leo joined Cisco as an Associate in their Sales team in July 2013. LISA wishes them all the best in their new career, and hopes to see them at future events.


Athina and Leo with the Cisco Graduate class of 2013






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About Charles

Charles works as a business analyst in the financial derivatives sector. He has worked in market data and electronic trading as a software engineer and was recently involved in a startup company. Within LISA, he mainly focuses on building relationships with industry helping current and recent graduates in their careers. Charles is always on email.

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