“I am passionate to serve in a capacity to positively impact one billion lives by 2025,” declares Naveen Menon. Rather than any delusions of grandeur, his statement is based on Cisco’s ambitious mission to help the world’s most disadvantaged thrive through opportunities offered by digitisation.
Changing the lives of a billion people is a big undertaking, but if any firm can do it, it would be Cisco. The technology giant, with its 274 offices in 96 countries worldwide, saw US$49.3 billion in revenue last year. According to its 2019 corporate social responsibility report, it has already touched the lives of 469 million people. Menon, as the firm’s ASEAN president and a board member of Cisco Foundation, is one of those leading the charge.
A chemical engineer by training, he started his career in strategy consultancy before making the transition into the technology industry, where he quickly found a purpose. “Our technology has the potential to transform entire economies, businesses, people and communities,” he says passionately. “I would like to see a world where there are fewer inequalities and less concentration of power and wealth. A world where more opportunities are opened up and systematically available to a wider group of institutions or people could potentially solve some of the biggest issues we are facing today.”
Although Menon appreciates technology’s potential to change the lives of many, he doesn’t believe that it is the solution to everything. According to him, the human touch is still important. “The most common misconception is that technology is the panacea for all problems,” he says. “I see the industry rapidly embracing the rise of exponential technologies, but it’s up to us, the humans, to make difficult decisions that will shape humanity. Success is when future generations can benefit from the tough choices we have made.”