Cisco Champions 2017 – A reason to reflect

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tl;dr – THANK YOU ALL!

Yesterday morning I opened up my Spark app and was surprised to see I was added to the Cisco Champions room. I checked my e-mail and saw nothing. I knew it was being announced soon do to some twitter chatter. After validating with members it was true. I was selected as a 2017 member of Cisco Champions. I’m going to say I’m blown away even still today. I am absolutely honored to be part of such an amazing group of individuals. It has caused me to sit back and think about how I even came to know the people I look up to. So how did it start?

My path to working with Cisco has the typical I.T. back story. To start I grew up around technology. My father has over 30 years in with the same telco so I was already around the Central Office with it’s big networking and telephone switches. I took it for granted back then but being around that technology shaped me into the love for gadgets and tech that I have today. In fact, being around the telco industry is what caused me to get my Associates degree in network administration post high school. My father also taught me the importance of continued education. To this day, at the humble age of 63 he is studying for his CCNA Wireless simply due to his passion for learning and interest in wireless technologies. I’m glad he’s passed that learning desire onto me. Thanks Dad!

During my time at my community college studying for my degree I came across my most influential teacher. He ran the entire program and curriculum for the Network Administration degree. He was a seasoned veteran in running computer networks. He passed on some of my favorite concepts about learning that I still use to this very day. However, the part I reflect most from him was one day in class he went around and asked every student how far they wanted to go in their career. He asked things such as “Do you want to be a bench tech?” “Do you want to be a help desk / support center technician?” Most importantely I recall him coming up to me and asking “Would you want to run a network?” I remember my answer to vividly I laugh at it to this day. My response: “I would never want that much responsibility. It could cost companies way to much if I screwed something up”. Thanks to his dedication to helping students learn and gain confidence and carry that forward throughout their career I can only say this. Thank You Ken!

Skipping all of the food industry and physical labor jobs after college I’m going to jump into when I started retail at Staples. I started in my home town as simply an electronics sales associate. I wanted to be a technician though. I was lucky enough to have some very support managers and co-workers that were willing to push me to learn and back me in studying for CompTIA’s A+ during bits of downtime at work. This was a major step in my career path. Thank you Don, Jeff, Dan, Todd, Scott, and David!

From my home town I transferred to a Staples near my current residence. Once again, I worked with an awesome group of people who eventually made me the resident technician at the facility. It was here that I was taught how to interact with customers that needed technical advice and assistance. I learned how to simplify concepts not only for them but for myself. I was once again supported by a group of peers that were interested in seeing me expand my career where I continued to learn and study for a couple of other CompTIA certifications. Thank you for the continued support and life advice Steve!

It was at this point where I transitioned to a small healthcare provider group as a help desk technician. Here is where I first started learning anything Cisco. Answering phone calls and trouble tickets I eventually asked to be educated on simple things such as VLAN changes and Voicemail resets. I was lucky to have my fellow help desk team member support me learning and taking more of the networking role as opposed to answering general hardware/keyboard/mouse tickets. Pushing each other to learn and obtain certifications in our respective areas of interest (Cisco for myself and Windows Server for him) we both pushed through small staff and political issues to progress forwards. Thank you Jason for allowing me to take time to learn Cisco!

At this point in my career I had gained more and more experience in the Cisco field doing both Route/Switch work as well as Voice work. Luckily, my small 400 employee company was purchased by a local hospital system that employees nearly 8000 individuals. I ended up on a small but highly skilled team of network engineers and voice engineers whom all pushed me to get better and learn new things. This is where I was introduced to the world of SE’s, PM’s, AM’s, Partners, VAR’s, etc. I was pushed to do implementations and planning. Own changes and projects. Thanks for the push all of the Chris’s, Lori, Mark, Jason, Matt, Travis, and all of the engineers on that infrastructure team!

It was between those last two paragraphs where I started interacting in the communities online. Most notably I started participating on twitter and blogging. This is where a lot of fun began. Between snarky bantering back and forth about voice and faxes with @amyengineer and single malt discussions with @silviakspiva. The help in testing implementations I got from the likes of @CdnBeacon and @th1nkdifferent. The ridiculousness or the Arby’s jokes and fry challenge with @JSDavenport, @network_phil, and @matthewnorwood. The Brewery swag airdrops with @highspeedsnow and @k00laidIT. Amazing support from @MsJamieShoup with books for learning, and @matthaedo helping push me towards my CCIE dream. @joshuarkittle and @Renegade604 for being my friends during my first CLUS and pushing me to move my career foward. There are so many I can thank for so many reasons in me being where I am at today! The list goes on and on but it’s too long for a blog post.

None the less THANK YOU ALL!!! Thank you all so very much!

tl;stbadr (Too Long; Scrolled To Bottom And Didn’t Read) – THANK YOU ALL!

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