Connecting computers and companies

In a casual bistro near Picasso’s house, Le Bistrot d’Henri, Syed Hoda ’96MBA relaxes with a glass of wine and recalls his days at Emory.

“Roberto Goizueta gave me my degree,” he says. “He was a good ambassador for the business school. The way he smiled and said hello, there was a lot of warmth.”

Hoda is now a managing director at Cisco Systems in Paris, a $20-billion networking technology company with thirty-five thousand employees and offices all over the world. He directs a division of the Internet Business Solutions Group, which helps companies be more successful at applying the technology they already have, such as encouraging them to “go paperless” or to use e-learning.

“We help people gain competency at getting the most out of their IT investment–to maximize its potential,” he says. “They don’t have to use our products. But if Nike helps to turn someone into a marathon runner, and they discover that they need newer, more advanced and complex shoes, guess where they will go? Nike. When we become a trusted adviser to large, global companies, it creates brand loyalty for Cisco.”

In the mid-’90s, Hoda was working for IBM in Atlanta when he decided to take advantage of the company’s offer to pay for him to get his MBA at Emory.

When he accepted the international assignment at Cisco, his wife, Sahba, was delighted.

“I probably couldn’t have said anything better than that we were moving to Paris!” he says. “Our boys, Shaan and Kamran, are seven and four, so our personal and professional lives kind of lined up.” They settled into a large apartment in central Paris, near the Arc de Triomphe. The boys sometimes miss having a big backyard to play in, says Hoda, but he and his wife love the city.

“It’s like when you’re a kid, thirteen or fourteen, and you have your first crush,” he says. “And then, imagine your first crush never ending. The way of life, the food, the wine, the fashion. . . . I’ll start walking home from work on the street where we live, maybe I’m stressed out, in a bad mood, but I’ll be walking and by the time I get to our apartment, I’ve forgotten about it.”–M.J.L.



© 2005 Emory University