August 15, 2019
10 Questions with Rola Dagher, the President of Cisco Canada
Rola Dagher describes herself as a proud Lebanese and grateful Canadian.
Dagher, who recently joined LebNet’s Senior Advisory board, began her career in technology 30 years ago and her focus on customers, people and leadership continues to define the leader she is today – a servant leader. She was the Director of telecommunications company Bell Canada for 15 years before leading the enterprise solutions area for Dell in Canada.
In 2017, she became the president of Cisco Systems Canada. Dagher oversees all facets of Cisco Canada’s business, including sales operations, engineering, services, finance, and marketing, backed with over 25 years of experience driving growth, establishing impactful partnerships, and achieving aggressive targets.
At Cisco Canada, Dagher aims to create the best place to work for employees. She truly believes that in the digital age an empowered, inspired, inclusive, diverse and adaptable workforce is fundamental to any company’s success.
If you had a rewind button, what would you change about your journey?
Taking care of my health and making sure to put myself first. Your mental wellbeing is your superpower – don’t discard it. I use the analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first. When you are on a plane – the first thing they tell you is in case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first before helping others… that stands true for life. If you are not investing and nurturing yourself, you won’t be able to grow.
What are your 3 biggest accomplishments?
My Children. They make me want to be a better mother everyday.
Transforming Cisco Canada’s culture because culture is the backbone of success. It is the ultimate enabler and when I came in to Cisco Canada it was my number one priority. Because of that, we were the fastest growing country for Cisco in 2018. Today, Cisco Canada has been named the Best Place to work in Canada from an inclusion perspective, a young perspective and from a giving back perspective.
I am one of six girls and back in my village they would question my father’s decision to leave Lebanon and take six girls to Canada. We all proved everyone wrong and today I am proud of the daughter I am to the father who had six girls.
What’s the best lesson you learned?
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Even if you make a mistake, get back up and use the opportunity to learn. If you have a victim’s mentality you will never go forward – you need to have a winner’s mentality.
Who is your role model?
My father for his strength leaving Lebanon with nothing to provide a better life for his children. His vision, his sacrifice and his attitude has been my inspiration.
How did surrounding yourself with a good support system help you advance in your career?
Family played a huge role – mother and father were instrumental in helping me with my children that allowed me to grow. My mentors/sponsors were my accelerators. They saw something in me that I didn’t even see and pushed me to be a better leader and to do things I would never think possible.
What is one habit you worked hard on breaking to improve your life or career?
Learning never stops and there are always habits you need to unlearn. One of the main habits is listening to listen and not to react.
What characteristics do you look for in people you choose to work with?
Hungry to learn: If you are not willing to learn no one can help you, but if you are hungry to learn no one can stop you.
Humble to work with: I don’t care how smart you are, if you aren’t humble there is no place for you.
Emotional Intelligence: Hire for EQ and train for IQ… that is the future in the Era of digital transformation.
What skills did you work so hard on acquiring?
Being able to translate technology into business impact.
Listen to listen not listen to speak.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Life owes you nothing. Life is a chance to make something of it. Be more confident and don’t focus on the negatives.
What excites you and what worries you about the impact of technology on the future?
Technology is intrinsically neutral. It’s how you use technology that defines its position as good or evil. I’ll give you an example of mental health – through tech we are working with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to transform mental health services. On the other hand, social media has become a tool for bullies. We need the right people driving the progression of technology.