Cisco Systems helped build the internet. Now the company has asked Naveen Menon to launch offers designed to ensure a more accessible and equitable future internet. By Cecilie Oerting and Michael Kearns.
In November, 2021, Naveen Menon began a new chapter at Cisco Systems, the multinational tech conglomerate that decades ago helped pioneer Silicon Valley. Having served as Cisco President for Southeast Asia, he now took responsibility for delivering two of the global company’s six pillars—the Internet for the Future, and Capabilities at the Edge. These missions go beyond the technical aspect of constructing the next generation of the internet to taking a critical look at how technology can be upgraded and deployed to address pressing social issues.
Menon has been passionate for years about the role technology can play in providing greater equity, stretching back to his previous workplace, the global management consultancy, Kearney.
“When I launched the Social Impact Practice at Kearney in 2012, it was all around trying to use the power and influence of CEOs and boards to change things and address inequities in their own businesses,” he says in an interview with the Brunswick Review. It is a sensibility that he brought to Cisco, where he could leverage the company’s legacy, profile and technological expertise. “I found a similar kind of opportunity to use the power of the company to help raise big issues that we can address through technology.”
In his new role, Menon says he is bringing together the best parts of Cisco and its technologies—those that exist today and those being developed in-house, along with future technologies to be acquired. For the next generation of the internet, his goal is to design a new architecture. Yet it is bigger than that. “I’ve never actually seen my role as operating within the boundaries of a single organization or institution.” Rather, he identifies as an activist within this space, spotlighting the significant barriers that currently exist and working to chart a path towards a more equitable and sustainable internet. “The more attention we can get on these issues, the better it will be for citizens, communities, and society.”