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My Unlikely Cisco Tech Profession Began with a Detour

Robert Y. and his wife, Sara.In the event you had been to return in time and ask 20-year-old Robert Yee the place he could be working in 2023, Cisco would have been an unlikely reply. Working in any technical discipline would have been an unlikely reply. Why? As a result of I made a decision to alter majors from Chemical Engineering to Asian/Asian American Research. I wished to know the wants of my neighborhood and assist these like my mother and father. And talking of my mother and father, this choice was simply the newest in a string of minor disappointments. Regardless of this modification in majors, my mother and father nonetheless supported me.

Upon commencement, with my newly minted Bachelor of Arts in Asian Research diploma, I discovered a full-time job at a regulation agency … in accounting. My purpose on the time was to review for the LSAT and go to regulation college. However life had different plans for me.

The regulation agency was going by way of a expertise migration however didn’t have a techniques administrator. With some luck, I used to be provided the chance to separate my time between accounting and IT work. It became a full-time position, and I formally had my first IT job. I picked up the brand new abilities rapidly however knew if I wished to proceed on this profession, I would wish to review. This was the beginning of the certification growth.

Whereas learning for my first certification, I got here throughout an article on-line from somebody in Hong Kong that talked about this tremendous onerous certification known as the Cisco Licensed Internetwork Knowledgeable (CCIE) and the frilly testing course of. This “Cisco” factor actually intrigued me. I filed that thought away however by no means forgot it.

In 1999 (pre-Y2K), I had my first alternative to deploy an end-to-end Cisco community. Up till this level, I had by no means touched a router, a swap, or a firewall. It was all on-the-job coaching, I needed to be taught quick, and I had a number of assist from companion engineers that put up with my many questions. When the venture was completed, I spotted I LOVED networking. I doubled down on my learning. I earned many Cisco Certifications, however that CCIE nonetheless appeared simply too daunting.

Robert, Jason, and Joe.That very same yr, I attended my first native Cisco Customers Group assembly. It was wonderful to be with a bunch of like-minded people who additionally wished to be taught Cisco expertise. Members of this group began to earn their CCIEs, and their tales impressed me to provide it a shot. I met my good associates Jason Bomar and Joe Younger right here, and we shaped a research group. We met many weekends to review. Jason was the primary to cross his CCIE. Then, Joe and I handed our exams inside one week of one another in Might 2003.

In 2008, after years of hesitation and interviewing with three completely different groups, I lastly made it to Cisco as a pre-sales Programs Engineer on the Industrial workforce overlaying Los Angeles. My very first day at Cisco was my birthday. It was a profession change, and I struggled to know the gross sales cycles, discover inner assets, construct trusted relationships with clients, and perceive and venture “my model.” These had been all essential to achieve success, they usually had been all new to me. With a number of assist and help from teammates, mentors, managers, and particularly my spouse, Sara, I used to be capable of finding myself on the opposite aspect of this wall.

Being a Cisco SE was the toughest job I’ve ever had. Studying new options and applied sciences challenged me continually. I needed to be proficient with the portfolio, perceive how my clients’ companies labored and clarify in easy phrases how an answer may gain advantage them. Nonetheless, it was additionally essentially the most rewarding and satisfying job I’ve ever had. The outcomes of my work had been tangible. I might see the belief I constructed with my purchasers and the outcomes of months or years-long tasks.

Robert and other CAAN members volunteering at a food bank.

It’s onerous to think about that I’ve been at Cisco for 15-plus years in 4 completely different roles. I began as a Programs Engineer, have been a Technical Options Architect, and my final two positions have been in management. I’m presently the Programs Engineering Supervisor for a workforce of Knowledge Middle Networking Technical Options Architects, and I’m really grateful for the dedication, information, and talent this workforce brings to the desk. Amongst them are one CCDE, two Cisco Press books, one upcoming Ph.D., and ten CCIE certifications.

Although my profession path took me in a special path, I’ve by no means absolutely forgotten my unique intent after I modified my school main to Asian and Asian American Research. Cisco provided me the chance to make a distinction in my neighborhood. In 2020, I began the Southern California chapter of Related Asian Affinity Community (CAAN), an ERO/ERG/Inclusive Group for AAPI and AAPI allies at Cisco. We’ve grown the chapter from about 30 to start with to over 90 members presently. It’s been an excellent alternative to showcase and share AAPI cultures and provides again to my neighborhood. As nice as my time at Cisco has been, I’ve seen all through my profession there haven’t been lots of people who appeared like me, particularly in gross sales management. I believe there may be actual alternative to alter that. This has been an incredible alternative to attach with and spotlight AAPI expertise, encourage them to contemplate management at Cisco and assist open these doorways for them.

Some individuals might imagine that 15 years at a single firm is a lifetime. For me, it’s occurred in a blink. On daily basis brings completely different challenges and new alternatives to be taught or train. I’m grateful that Cisco has provided me the chance to develop my profession and pursue my ardour all inside one firm.

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