Time To Meet Our New Community Spotlight Award Recipients
The Cisco Learning Network team and community enjoy recognizing members for their contributions and support by presenting them with a Community Spotlight Award. This round, I am thrilled to announce the winners, three exceptional contributors of our amazing community. A big thank you to the rest of the community for sending us their nominations. You can read all about our new recipients below.


We would also like to give honorable mention to the members who earned an Awesome badge this quarter:


    - Kev

    - Sonia

    - Ri0N

    - nicolas

    - Peter Paluch

    - Jennifer

    - Steven Davidson

    - Keith



Please join me in congratulating and celebrating our Community Spotlight Award winners by posting your comments.


Technical Excellence

Ismael da Silva Mariano

Members' Choice

Tshwarelo Joel Mooke


Jack Walker

What education and training (including certification) led you to where you are now?


Ismael: Well, I have college degree in electronics engineering, graduation in computer science, official training courses of providers such as Digital, Cisco, IBM and HP; completed CCNA R&S Network Academy, CCNA R&S Certification (2003), CCNP R&S Certification (2007), CCIE Written Exam (2009), CCNA R&S Certification (2015)

Tshwarelo: After doing my Secondary education, I did business administration course (certificate level) and Certificate in PC application. I worked a couple of Admin jobs until 2009 when I became unemployed. In 2010 I started studying for A+ but didn’t write the exam. The following year I did ABE Business Information Systems Course at the same time working as a volunteer junior System Administrator. It was only last year when I decided to concentrate in networking. I then did N+ early last year to get a firm networking foundation before starting my cisco journey. I wrote my ICND1 in May and currently working towards seating for ICND2 before end of year.


Jack: I studied CCNA using CBT Nuggets for the overview of the concepts and lab training. I also studied the CCNA Study Guide by Todd Lammle for the in depth explanation on every topic.


What's your job title now and what's really cool about your job?

Ismael: I work as a specialist network engineering at Claro S.A., a mobile operator company in Brazil. My responsibilities are the maintenance, operation, installation and design in the corporate network.

It's amazing to deal with everything that appears day-by-day, each time at work is different. We have access to high technologies and I feel really proud to see things working fine. But whats really cool at our job is to see how we can help people to make their work easier! We work hard, study hard to turn things easier to other company´s departments people.


Tshwarelo: I’m currently working as IT Infrastructure Consultant for a small IT company. We get subcontracted by other big IT companies on their projects which is so cool as I get exposed to different network setups and implementations from different Professionals.


Jack: My current job title is Systems Administrator, but it's misleading. What I really am is the go to guy when something breaks and the get dirty guy when nobody else can do it. Oh, and throw in some Cisco troubleshooting! The coolest aspect of my job is the fact I get to help a wide variety of users in our network! At times I'm helping our accounting department by troubleshooting communication issues with our online banking system, and then I switch gears to help a Warehouse supervisor fix user logons!

Why did you decide to go into IT as a career and how long have you been working in IT?

Ismael: When I was 12, I decided to study engineering and things went in this direction. My first job was in the installation of ethernet cards (NICS) at PC2001 personal computers to build 10BaseT/10Base2 Novell ethernet networks. I became in love with networking and here I am after 28 years! During this time I worked 13 years at Embratel (our most important telecommunications company) and others 13 years at Claro.


Tshwarelo: I’ve always had the love for technology from an early age and wanted to go into IT but didn’t get a college scholarship after completing my High school. I later enrolled for a business administration course but deep down I knew one day I’ll have to do what I’ve always wanted to do, which it having a career in technology (IT). This led to my decision to take in a voluntary work in 2009/2010 working as an assistant to the System Administrator while self studying A+ and Windows Server 2003, I also had a voluntary work as Linux System developer (Jan–May 2012) before getting my current Job end of May 2012.


Jack: I decided to go into IT back in late 1999. I was talking with my dad and he suggested that I become a LAN Administrator, so I started looking around at different Computer Training schools in New York city where I was living at the time. I found a school that advertised low enrollment fees and tuition assistance. When I walked in the door the sales lady asked me what I wanted to do and I replied, "I think I want to be a LAN Administrator". She said, great! You should start with Or-Ahkle! I said what's an Or-Ahkle? (Oracle) .. She said it's a good step to becoming an administrator! hahaha... Then she handed me their course catalog, which was a 3 ring binder with Vendor logos scotch taped to different pages within the binder. She suggested I look through and decide what path interested me the most. I saw things that said: Administrator, Engineer, but one caught my eye- EXPERT! I asked about it and she said it would be too difficult because I had no experience. Finally she offered me a low cost "starter" course that included A+ and MCSE. She assured me that if I could complete those courses then I would be qualified to study to become an Expert. I rushed through A+ and began MCSE NT4 by February of the following year. I received a job offer and went to work, sadly I did not complete my training for MCSE (and still haven't to this day). That same story repeated itself 2 more times over the following years. Although I was working in IT, was on the Help Desk side and was never allowed to touch the green devices in the IT room, because I didn't know enough. I was brain washed into thinking that I would not be qualified to learn Cisco unless I learned MS first! In January 2015 I was working with a Network Engineer and he suggested that I study Cisco. He is a CCIE and he was telling me that! So here I am now. I have the first step completed on my journey to becoming an Expert! I don't care how long it takes to get there, but I will! I've waited 15 years on Help Desk, so the amount of time to study for and prepare for the CCIE exams will be easier than the last 15 years!

What professional achievement(s) are you most proud of and what would you like to learn or do next in your career?

Ismael: Well, I took part in many projects:

1) Installation of the first Data Corporate Network of Embratel, a DECNET/IV and DECNET/V network with sites spread all over Brazil; 2) Migration to a TCP/IP network, adopting Cisco equipment multiprotocol routers; 3) First Internet connection in the data corporate network; 4) Took part of the STM400 team, a value added network (VAN) with many services of MHS/FAX following X400 recommendations and based in a public X25 network (RENPAC); 5) Migration of STM400 to a TCP/IP network with connection to the INTERNET and adopting EDI services to customers, the product was named EmVIA; 6) Migration of data corporate network backbone of Claro from ATM to MPLS; 7) Implementation of the new Data Center tier 3 of Claro; 8) When I began at Claro, it was called ATL, a much smaller mobile operator at Rio de Janeiro state. Now our company is spread all over Brazil, and I was there helping to build the network


With 51 years old, I have many new objects on my sight: 1) CCIE R&S; 2) CCNA/CCNP Data Center; 3) Become a CCAI (want to teach networking); 4) Learn about SDN/ACI


Tshwarelo: Being able to pass my first ever cisco exam 6 months back was a major achievement to me. My plan is to keep going with my networking/cisco journey, get my CCNA before end of 2015 and go for CCNP RS next year. I also plan to get a new job where I’ll be concentrating more on networking as currently most of the work we do here on mostly server deployment with only few networking jobs.


Jack: I'm most proud of hearing the companies I work for say "We can't believe you're leaving, we'll never find another you"! That makes feel proud to know that so many people depend on me. I'm still working toward my ultimate goal of becoming CCIE, currently on CCNP Switch. Other than Cisco Administration and Engineering, I would like to become CEH certified. I like the idea of being able to uncover vulnerabilities in network security.

What have you found most useful on the Cisco Learning Network?

Ismael: Around March, this year, I was surfing the Internet, looking for material to study for my certification when I found CLN site. What was my surprise when I saw I had a  user registered in the site. I logged in and since then I frequently come back. The study groups, webinars, MLSS, learning materials used by TAC, authors live sessions and the premium subscription.


Everything at CLN is devoted to education, to help people fulfill their dreams. Everybody together helping, participating in the discussions, the managers with close attention to everything and even an IT Career session you put here. Self-study here is not a problem, here we have plenty of material to study; just follow an Study-group and begin posting questions, answering and making researches to answer a question. But here, most important are the friends we make during our journey at CLN.


Tshwarelo: The humble/family like community we have here. I’ve never came across an online community like CLN. Everyone here is always willing to help be it technology or general life advice; you’ll get it here on CLN.


Jack: The most useful part of CLN is the community! I cannot find any other place where someone studying ICND1 can ask a question and receive answers and advice from a CCIE! Trust me on that one, I've looked around at other forums, but none have CCIE's and CCNP's waiting to help someone else!

What advice would you give to someone considering a similar career / certification direction?

Ismael: Keep in mind that the better things in life are the most difficult to achieve. Its hard, you will loose nights of sleep, will have to study a lot, will feel disappointed sometimes but it deserves. The reward will come! Fight to fulfill your dreams, never give up. Be strong. It's endless, we will never stop studying, trying to know more. Its not just certification, build your network, build a solid background (college), read books and be humble to listen the others. Nobody knows everything. WHEN YOU THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING YOU STOP LEARNING...

Tshwarelo: In IT you’ll never finish school. You’ll be learning for the rest of your career. It’s not like other career field where you get your Degree and then you are done with school. If you choose this career field be ready to study everyday of your life and be willing to help others as you might need their assistance the next day, that will also help you understand the technology as you need to have a good understanding of what you are trying to explain to someone else.


Jack: My advice to anyone considering a career in IT would be to not listen to anyone else's opinion of their abilities! Too many times people with great potential are brain washed into thinking that there is only one way to get ahead and that way is the one that someone has pre-planned for them! Find your own path, don't take their word for it! For anyone studying Cisco: use multiple resources. Do not just rely on videos or just books, but use all resources together! Think of it this way: in order to learn just enough to pass any exam you will need to build a learning tool-box. The more variety of tools you use, the better your chances are of passing the exams! Also add the fact that you will probably need those tools once you start working on a Network! Building a strong set of tools will help you grow beyond just the knowledge required to pass the exam!

Bonus Question: What is your all time favorite movie, book, or song?

Ismael: Movie - "A insustentável leveza do ser"("The unbearable lightness of being") - Romance, wonderful city and a great script. Book - "A história da riqueza do homem"("Man´s Worldly goods") - Leo Huberman; this book made me understand a lot about how things work on earth and "Brasil nunca Mais" ( "Brazil  never"- Paulo Evaristo Arns and jaime Wright; deals about political era of 1964-1979 in Brazil the military government. Song - As a "carioca da gema", I love to listen and dance samba. One of my favorites is "The girl from ipanema" ( Vinicius de Morais and Tom Jobim)


Tshwarelo: Movie: My favorite will be the whole Fast and Furious Series (from 1 all the way to the last) Song: Wiz Khalifa – See you again ^ Books: I only read networking books


Jack: Favorite movie: Top Gun! I always wanted to fly like that!