Winners Announced!
Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2021

$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 Yoo Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)



    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 Centoni Senior Vice President, Strategy, Emerging Technologies & Incubation



    As SVP, 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. 

  • Senior Director, Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
    Mary de Wysocki Senior Director, Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)



    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.

  • Distinguished Services Engineer
    Phillip Remaker Distinguished Services Engineer



    Phillip Remaker is a Distinguished Services Engineer and has been a leader at Cisco with his work in technology adoption, software quality improvement, and defect tracking systems and processes. In addition to developing the Intellectual property strategy for Cisco, he helps to nurture innovative ideas and mentor inventors, as well as to analyze, evaluate, and rank new ideas for Cisco’s Intellectual Property and patent portfolio. Phil co-authored RFC 4335 and holds six patents with two more pending.

  • Program Director, Innovation & Entrepreneurship
    DeShawn S. Spellman Program Director, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

    Thurgood Marshall College Fund


    DeShawn Spellman is the current program director for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship division. With nearly 20 years of work in higher education, specifically with students from underserved communities, he believes its lifeblood to help individuals reach their full potential in life. Spellman has successfully helped create positive outcomes and has launched unique programming with brands such as Ally Financial, The National Basketball Association (NBA), and GUCCI to name a few. He has also been a champion in helping to diversify Silicon Valley by his work with tech and social media giants Apple and Facebook. His work in diversity and inclusion fosters positive change and creates access to top companies for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

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

    Global Citizen


    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.

  • Founder and Principal Analyst
    Zeus Kerravala Founder and Principal Analyst

    ZK Research


    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.

  • Founder and Principal Analyst
    Carolina Milanesi Founder and Principal Analyst

    The Heart of Tech


    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 Law Global Head, Financial & Strategic Investors Group

    Standard Chartered Bank


    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 Tavernise Corporate Affairs Director, Community Development



    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

  • Regional Manager, Corporate Affairs
    Murugan Vasudevan Regional Manager, Corporate Affairs



    Murugan leads the Social Innovation Group for Cisco in South Asia. His team is responsible for directing Cisco’s social investments around human capacity building, workforce development, and community enablement. This includes programs such as the Networking Academy and CSR investments. Cisco Networking Academy, a public-private partnership approach to tech skills development, currently reaching ~150,000 students annually in South Asia has set a goal of training 1M students by 2025. On the social investments, Murugan leads overall CSR strategy helping to establish the investment framework and strategic partnerships in India with a key focus on digital, sustainable, and scalable solutions. Cisco has set an audacious goal of positively impacting 50 million people in India by 2025.

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



    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.