Five Questions with Ruwani Biggers
Get to know Her Spark’s new president, Ruwani Biggers, who serves as Strategy Lead and Chief of Staff at Cisco.
Q1: Can you share a bit about yourself, and the path you took to arrive at your current role at Cisco?
Back when I was in high school, I focused a lot on math and science. When I went to UNC-CH for my undergrad, like most of my peers, I thought I would be pre-med, and I started off with a lot of science courses. However, after going through five different majors, I ended up graduating with a B.A. in English and an Asian Studies minor. I used that to get a job with the Japanese Ministry of Education through the JET program. After teaching English in Japan for two years, I returned to the U.S. to get my MBA from Wake Forest. My love for technology was what first introduced me to Cisco, but I joined them because of their culture. Since joining Cisco in 2007, I’ve held a variety of positions from training in Sales to global IT program manager to people manager to my current position as Strategy Lead and Chief of Staff.
Q2: What drew you to Her Spark initially, and what are a few of your favorite memories from working with the organization?
I joined Her Spark while I was a people manager in Cisco’s TAC organization. While I had amazing opportunities to work with many talented engineers, one thing that I wished I could fix was how few female candidates there were. So, I began to explore ways to get women interested in STEM careers at an earlier age. Around that time, I was asked by a colleague at Cisco (and former Strategy Lead Chris Myers) to join Her Spark’s second Summer Summit as a volunteer. Since then, I’ve been hooked, and I soon after joined the board as their first Events and Programs Lead.
Q3: What inspired you to take on this leadership role?
I am so honored that the Board of Directors elected me to take on the role of President of Her Spark. When the opportunity was first presented to me, I was extremely excited. Ever since my daughters were born 10 and seven years ago, I’ve made it my mission to do all that I can to make the world a better place for them as they grow up and move into the careers of their choice. Being able to be a leader within Her Spark helps me to work on that goal.
Q4: What are a few key goals you have in mind for Her Spark?
Right now, Her Spark is working hard to adapt to more of a virtual-only environment since we’ve suspended all in-person activity through August 2021, at the very least. Other big plans for this year include doing an overhaul of our website so that we can create a community space for all of our girls in Her Spark. Right now, we provide great programs, but we’d like the girls to be a part of an alumni group where they can gain access to the other women in STEM and STEM-related fields, as well as each other in a Her Spark community.
Q5: What advice would you give to girls interested in a career in STEM?
Explore and learn about what opportunities are available to you. While some areas of STEM are fairly static, others are quite dynamic, and the industry will change significantly year over year as the world changes. If you love STEM, continue to pursue it, and don’t be afraid that you may not love it all, but find those areas where you can best express your passion.