Vanessa Beauparlant, Tech Sales

Associate Sales Representative, Cisco

“To work for a company like Cisco, that provides the technology to fuel the things we love like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, is really rewarding!”

“I’m really proud of my first sale ever!” Five months into the Cisco Sales Associate Program, Vanessa sold a video conferencing solution to an accounting firm. The firm had four offices in Northern Ontario and wanted them all to be connected. Vanessa, with her sales and technology knowledge, worked the deal from start to finish. This was the first video conferencing deal for the inside sales team in Canada! (Inside sales representatives call up prospective clients to learn more about their businesses. Then they determine if the prospect can use Cisco’s products or services, to better their business, and attempt to close a sale. An inside sales rep typically does not travel to the client. Instead, the rep does most, if not all, of their sales presentations over the phone or through web conferencing.).

Vanessa's CareerMash

Vanessa mashes up sales and technology. She always loved sales and saw it as an opportunity to join the ever growing tech world. After graduating from university, in communications studies, she was accepted to the Cisco sales associate program. This is for new graduates that are looking for a career in IT sales or engineering. They recruit around 100 university grads from around the world for a one-year extremely intensive training program. After Vanessa completed the program she was field ready (as in ready to go out and talk to real customers). She had learned Cisco technology, selling skills, and the ins and outs of the tech industry.

A Day in the Life

“Every day is different but for the most part I’m calling customers and trying to generate new business.”  Once Vanessa connects with a customer she’ll set up a time for them to talk to her and a Cisco systems engineer. Vanessa’s customers are usually IT directors and business owners. These customers know technology and know their systems! So, Vanessa brings along an engineer for the first sales call.

“It’s most effective having a engineer on the call. We get right to the heart of our customer’s technology needs.” For example a clothing company needed new networking gear including switches and routers to connect its retail stores across Canada. After working with the customer and Cisco engineers, Vanessa engages a partner (Cisco doesn’t sell directly to their customers. They partner up with thousands of big names such as Bell Canada, Telus, IBM and Allstream to name a few). From there she and her team build a suitable networking solution for the customer.

There are many solutions that Vanessa and her engineers can implement to help customers reach their technology goals. Whether it’s to enhance collaboration capabilities amongst their employees by means of video, voice, or Cisco borderless networks architecture or if they need more functionality from their phone system allowing for a more productive workforce. She can even suggest consolidating to cut costs in the data centre by means of virtualization.

Why this Job Rocks

“I like helping someone’s business and also making someone’s job easier.”

Vanessa learned many skills in the training program that she now puts into practice being a full time sales rep. And she can really do the tech talk.  “I learned about cable! How it works. What goes on inside that router. It’s not just about plugging it into a wall!”

Cisco is a worldwide company. “If you put your time in and really learn you can go anywhere you want. You can explore opportunities in other parts of the world.”


  • Vanessa graduated with an honours bachelor of arts in communications studies from Wilfred Laurier University.
  • She began her university studies majoring in economics for the first two years. However, she found that she didn’t love it. “It just wasn’t fun and seemed dull to me.” Vanessa switched to communications studies as she had taken a few communications classes as electives. She discovered she really liked it. “I liked the diversity in classes that I could take.”
  • Vanessa interned at Bell Canada during her first summer at university. She went back to Bell every summer until her fourth year because she had been accepted into the Cisco sales associate program.
  • Vanessa graduated from the training program and has been at Cisco full time since 2010.

Speed Bumps

Vanessa chose a major at university that didn’t turn out to inspire her. She switched two years into an economics degree and went into communications. “The switch was tough but I was determined to finish on time! I worked really hard.”

Tips for Success

  • Stay open. Unless you’re planning on becoming a doctor, what you study doesn’t always define where you end up. “I studied communications. I had no idea I would get into IT!” So don’t limit yourself. Just because you study one thing doesn’t mean you can’t explore other careers.
  • Stay informed. Be willing to learn and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. “We did a lot of role playing during the training at Cisco. And we had to do presentations on tons of new material. We were  constantly put on the spot!” Vanessa said this was excellent training for sales. A customer will throw out a question and you have to be ready to answer anything.
  • Stay organized. Time management is important in sales jobs. Vanessa can be doing up to fifteen deals at one time! 
  • Stay busy. Make your summers count while at university. “I love sales but I explored law for a little while.” Vanessa’s summer job during university was essential to figuring out what she wanted to do.