Winners will be announced on August 23, 2022!
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Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2022

$1 Million USD in Prizes

Calling All #TechForGood Startups

How can your early-stage innovative technology solution solve the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems?

  • Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
    Tae YooSenior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

    Cisco

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    Tae leads Cisco’s social investments and stewards CSR and sustainability across the business. She directs Cisco's business, technical, and financial assets to accelerate global problem solving to positively impact people, society, and the planet. 

    Under Tae’s leadership, Corporate Affairs strives to inspire, connect, and invest in global problem solvers to nurture innovative solutions and catalyze an entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports progress and inclusive growth. Corporate Affairs also invests in developing digital skills so everyone can participate in the digital economy and become a global problem solver. Corporate Affairs has committed to positively impact 1 billon people by 2025.

    A founding Cisco employee, Tae pioneered Cisco’s Business Development – establishing new markets through partnerships for joint product and market development. Under her leadership, the Cisco Networking Academy program has become one of the largest ICT education programs worldwide, helping 1.2 million get jobs from 2005-2013. She is a Trustee of the Cisco Foundation, a member of the Service Year Alliance Board and of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Education, Gender, and Work.

  • Senior Vice President, Strategy, Emerging Technologies & Incubation
    Elizabeth CentoniSenior Vice President, Strategy, Emerging Technologies & Incubation

    Cisco

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    As Senior Vice President, Cisco Strategy and Emerging Technology & Incubation, Liz Centoni leads the team that incubates new business opportunities working on breakthrough, emerging solutions outside of the core and creates new markets and businesses for Cisco. She is partnered with the Executive Leadership team, General Managers, and functional leaders to drive the company’s overall strategic direction. She is a voting member for Cisco Investments group which directs company’s efforts with startups and the global venture community.

    Liz is an accomplished business leader with deep technology experience and has transformed large-scale and highly complex businesses. She is recognized for developing and executing strategies, growing multi-billion dollar global businesses and teams. 

    Prior to this role, Liz was Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco's Cloud, Compute, and IoT business where she drove the business and engineering strategy for this global portfolio. Liz was instrumental in developing, executing and evangelizing the strategy for Cisco’s IoT portfolio in Industrial IoT, Edge Intelligence and SaaS based cellular connectivity platform for devices ranging from Connected Cars to Smart meters, driving it to profitable growth and a leader in Digital Transformation. In the Cloud and Computing Systems area, Liz led the team to define and execute the strategy to enable our customers operating model needs in Hybrid Cloud. This included building the SaaS hybrid cloud platform, expanding into adjacent markets such as Hyperconverged and leading the industry in cloud managed solutions for the compute market. 

    She also led the Service Provider Access Group as Vice President and General Manager, responsible for strategy, marketing direction and engineering efforts to grow Cisco's portfolio of Carrier Ethernet Access solutions.

    Prior roles include: Vice President of Engineering Strategy and Portfolio Planning and multiple engineering roles leading global teams building software and central engineering services, executing engineering plans with feature velocity, quality and focus on getting it right for the customer. 

    Mentorship, talent development and leadership are an important priority for Liz, and she is an active mentor and sponsor of underrepresented groups. She is the Cisco Global Executive Sponsor for the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program. Liz serves on the Board of Directors for Ingersoll Rand Inc. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for The Tech Interactive.

    Liz holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Mumbai and a M.B.A. from the University of San Francisco. 

  • Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
    Mary de WysockiVice President, Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

    Cisco

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    Mary has over a decade experience leading various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and education initiatives for Cisco. She currently heads up Corporate Affairs Strategy, including new program development, Public Benefit Investment and the Cisco Foundation, and Research and Insights. As technology rapidly changes the world of work, local communities and our daily lives, Mary’s team is proactively creating initiatives and supporting innovations that leverage technology and Cisco’s expertise at making connections to enable opportunity for all. By equipping a new generation of “global problem solvers” with the skills they need to survive and thrive in an increasingly digital future, Corporate Affairs hopes to impact 1 billion lives around the globe by 2025.

  • Director of Strategy and Planning
    Phillip RemakerDirector of Strategy and Planning

    Cisco

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    Phillip Remaker is a Director of Strategy and Planning at Cisco, focusing on technology transformation and business evolution. He has led intellectual property development and innovation initiatives, authoring 8 patents and an IETF RFC. He mentors inventors and innovators, and helps to bring ideas to reality. Phil is an IEEE Senior Member and the longest active multiply certified CCIE.

  • Co-Founder and Managing Director of Campaigns
    Simon MossCo-Founder and Managing Director of Campaigns

    Global Citizen

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    Simon Moss is a Co-Founder of Global Citizen, and is currently the Managing Director of Campaigns. He's another Australian living in New York, has been campaigning on global issues for more than a decade, and writes and speaks regularly on the role of global citizens in ending extreme poverty.

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  • Founder and Principal Analyst
    Zeus KerravalaFounder and Principal Analyst

    ZK Research

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    Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research, and provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long-term strategic advice. Kerravala provides research and advice to end-user IT and network managers, vendors of IT hardware, software and services and the financial community looking to invest in the companies that he covers.


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  • Founder and Principal Analyst
    Carolina MilanesiFounder and Principal Analyst

    The Heart of Tech

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    Carolina has over 15 years’ experience in the consumer technology industry most recently at Creative Strategies where since 2016 she has been focusing on a broad range of consumer technologies and services including those that have a deep impact on user behavior in an enterprise context. 

    In 2019, Carolina founded The Heart of Tech, her newest endeavor aims to help technology providers with their corporate social responsibility efforts. Two areas are particularly dear to her, because of the impact on society as a whole: education and diversity and inclusion.

    Between 2013 and 2016, Carolina was Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech where she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTech’s longitudinal studies.

    Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. 

    Carolina is a regular contributor to Tech.pinions, Forbes and Fast Company. 

  • Global Head, Financial & Strategic Investors Group
    David LawGlobal Head, Financial & Strategic Investors Group

    Standard Chartered Bank

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    David is the Global Head of Standard Chartered Banks’ Financial & Strategic Investors Group and a member of the Global Banking Management Team. He has over 20 years of commercial and investment banking experience and has held a variety of leadership positions throughout his career. Prior to joining Standard Chartered, David worked as a Managing Director and Chairman of Investment Banking for the Middle East and North Africa at Morgan Stanley. David graduated from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand with a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Accountancy and Finance in 1991. He is admitted to the bar as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.

  • Corporate Affairs Director, Community Development
    Peter TaverniseCorporate Affairs Director, Community Development

    Cisco

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    Peter Tavernise is the Executive Director of the Cisco Foundation and Director of Cisco Public Benefit Investment. Peter brings over 25 years of non-profit fundraising, private family foundation, and corporate funding experience to meeting the core mission and strategy of Cisco Public Benefit Investment. He helps empower global problem solvers to innovate as technologists, think like entrepreneurs, and act as social change agents in ways that can be replicated, scaled, and sustained. Peter is currently a Trustee of the Cisco South Africa Education Trust, a board member of the Giraffe Heroes Project, and an advisory board member of GreatNonprofits.org.

  • Chief Executive Officer
    Murugan VasudevanChief Executive Officer

    Veddis Foundation

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    Murugan Vasudevan is the CEO of Veddis Foundation. Veddis invests in organizations working at the intersection of tech, policy, and social impact. Veddis also partners with governments on policy implementation, effective public service delivery and governance. Previously, Murugan led Cisco’s social innovations group, investing and building solutions in the areas of critical human needs, education, and economic empowerment. Prior to his move to the impact ecosystem, he helped build several multi-million dollar businesses for Cisco as part of the emerging solutions group. Murugan is an Aspire Circle Fellow, is on the boards of Common Purpose and the Alliance for Scaling Policy Impact through Research and Evidence (an initiative of J-PAL South Asia), and advises several social impact startups on strategy and partnerships.

  • Vice President, Product Operations Emerging Technologies & Incubation
    Sanjeev MervanaVice President, Product Operations Emerging Technologies & Incubation

    Cisco

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    As Vice President, Product Operations, Emerging Technologies & Incubation (ET&I), Sanjeev leads the team in sourcing, generating, screening, and managing new innovation and incubation ideas that ultimately fuel growth for the company. The ET&I team establishes and advances new technologies and business models, or “the Bold Bets” that can solve problems our customers face in the most agile, ambitious, and entrepreneurial way possible. 

    Sanjeev has as long history of accomplishments, specifically around product management, competitive differentiation and building successful global teams. Sanjeev is recognized as a proven business leader with a strategic, innovative, and collaborative lens in approaching business needs and requirements.

    In his previous role as Senior Director, Cloud Infrastructure & Business Solutions Marketing, Sanjeev 

    was responsible for driving demand and positioning for Cisco products and solutions around Cloud, Data Centre & Routing Infrastructure, SDN/NFV based Solutions. He managed a global team of product and technical marketing managers representing customer care-abouts, business cases, innovation, competitive differentiation, and market share management around Cisco's Products & Solutions.

    Sanjeev’s prior roles include: Director, Product Management, Service Provider and Technical Marketing Lead. Sanjeev is certified in CCIE 4006.

    Sanjeev holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics from Vishwakarma Institute of Technology, University of Pune.

  • CX Chief Technology Officer
    Carlos PignataroCX Chief Technology Officer

    Cisco

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    Carlos Pignataro is the Chief Technology Officer for Cisco’s $13B Customer Experience (CX) organization. In his current role, he is charged with leading the CX innovation work, driving technology delivery standards for excellence, and developing the career paths for current and future technical talent.

    Carlos has built a 20+ year career driven by a passion and curiosity for technology excellence, outside-in thinking, and creating opportunity for technical professionals. He likes to think of innovation as a movement, and he cares deeply about making an impact for his customers, his teams, and the global community. He values being a mentor and working for a more diverse and inclusive workforce. He is the Cisco RTP site executive sponsor for four organizations: the Innovation community, the Conexión LatinX community, Women in Science & Engineering, and Emerging Talent at Cisco.

    An innovative network thought leader, Carlos contributes to the networking industry across many areas. This includes co-authoring or editing more than 50 Internet RFCs, four networking books, and co-inventing over 180 Issued US Patents.

    Carlos is a HITEC 100 awardee, a Fellow at the National Academy of Inventors, and he spreads the wealth, serving as an adjunct faculty at North Carolina State University.

In addition to the executive judges show above, hundreds of Cisco employees volunteer their time to review and rate Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge applications over multiple rounds of competition.