Community Spotlight Awards - Congratulations To Our WinnersGreetings everyone,


We’re up for another round of Community Spotlight Awards. Each quarter the Cisco Learning Network team spotlights a handful of outstanding members for their contributions and efforts on the site. The awards help highlight the reason why our Cisco Learning Network community is one of the very best in the Cisco Certification and IT world. These amazing members volunteer personal time to share their expertise, experience, and knowledge, and they motivate their peers to do their very best. Today, it is our honor to welcome three new individuals to the family of Community Spotlight Award recipients.


Our awesome community also plays a significant role in selecting our Members’ Choice winner, so THANK YOU for taking the time to send us your nominations.


Without further delay, it is time to meet our winners:


Members' Choice: Robert Drysdale

Technical Excellence: Ramon Gonzalez

Rookie: Anthony Barat


Please take a moment to view the short video below for a word from each of our winners, and then scroll down to read more about them. Congratulations to our spotlight winners.





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

Robert: A lot of what I know about IT came from me breaking something first - especially the family PC. It's amazing how fast you can figure out how to fix a computer when parental wrath hangs over you like the Sword of Damocles. My sense of curiosity has never left, and much of what I have learned over the years has been self-taught.  I hold the CompTIA A+certification and am studying for the CCNA Routing and Switching and CCNA Cyber Ops certifications. After which, I will start looking at options to pursue an Information Systems or Cyber Security degree.


Ramon: I have a bachelor degree in Electronics and communications; also I have training in VSAT communications system.

I hold Cisco CCNA R&S and CCNP R&S Certifications, currently working on CCNA Collaboration certification.


Anthony: I've long been a 'computer buff', since the days of the Commodore 64...even creating my own text-based games...but my career aspiration was to become an architect. During college I had a few courses in computer programming but it really didn't grab my interest at the time, although amongst my friends and family I've always been the informal "IT" guy. After a few years working in construction/ home remodeling I decided in 2003 to attend a technical school 2 nights a week, for a year, studying Information Technology. This sparked my interest in Networking and Server administration. I then wound up starting my own business with an old friend, as painting, remodeling and minor construction contractors...although a total was an opportunity that presented itself and a chance to own my own business. After nearly 10 years I decided to get back into my IT studies and took the "self-study path" while using my old notes and texts to earn my Network+ and A+. An acquaintance I'd made through the contracting business (a client I'd done a lot of work for) happened to work in IT and had his own consulting company and after learning of my interest in IT picked me up as a field tech. It is he who told me about Cisco certifications and helped me on this path. A little more than 2 years later and I now hold the ICND 1 (CCENT), CCNA Routing & Switching, CCNA Security, and have been accepted into the Cisco Cyber-Operations Scholarship Program. I've also taken computer based training courses for a variety of IT domains over the past two years and I've even taken an interest in coding/computer programming languages (which were such a determent to me ages ago LoL) and have been learning the basics of a few of them.


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

Robert: Today I am a Legal Hold Subject Matter Expert and Senior Technician for a 400 person corporate legal department of a global manufacturing company. The best part of my job are the people I have opportunities to work with; this includes executives, research scientists, attorneys, and support professionals from across every business function such as legal, finance, auditing, research and development, security, human resources and especially IT. As an extra bonus, I have also been able to meet people from around the world including Brazil, China, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland to name only a few.


Ramon: I work as a Radio Communication Engineer in a government institution who rules the Aviation Industry of the country.


Anthony: At the moment I am a field Networking Technician for a consulting company working on mostly small and home business networks, although I am actively pursuing a new opportunity as either a Network Engineer for an enterprise network organization (joining the "big leagues") or doing something in a security position, whether as a Network Security Engineer or as a Security Analyst. I've become greatly intrigued with all things security related over the past year and I feel it's an extremely important field these days. 


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

Robert: Since I a child, my two passions have always been learning how things work and solving puzzles. My parents frequently came home to find me with a television or a stereo broken down with all the parts meticulously laid out; most of the time I was even able to put them back together. Over time figuring out how electrical components fit together wasn't as interesting to me as understanding why a device worked a certain way, and I started focusing more on solving problems people would have with their electronics. I won't bore you with the details of all the mundane problems I solved, let's just say my parent's VCR didn't have a blinking "12:00" for the current time. Over the years I began solving increasingly complex problems, and eventually, I realized IT was a natural fit for me.

I was late in realizing a career in IT, and I didn't make the switch until I was in my late 20's. My IT career began a little over 10 years ago when I joined the web services team at a local college. I was only a student trainee at the time, but I was hungry to break into IT. It was a big risk for me at the time, but the decision has paid off very well.


Ramon: Since my beginnings in secondary school I was always curious about these two facts:

-How my voice could be heard miles away 

-And how is possible to see a graphical representation of something happening real time in other place around the globe.

These two facts mainly trigger me to start finding out the answers to this questions. Of course IT had to be the career I should be for not just to learn those facts but also to get involve on them.

So, since a finish my degree I’ve been working in the IT field for more than 7 years.


Anthony: I've long held the belief, forged through my years of using a wide range of various tools to address projects I was involved in, that the internet is the single greatest "tool" invented by mankind. Anything a person may want to learn how to do is 'out there', and can be accessed pretty much anywhere. This belief is what drove me in this direction of becoming a network engineer, to bring the World Wide Web to everyone. It's been a little over two years since I've been in this role full-time, although I performed quite a few IT and Networking related projects for clients I was doing other work for, in a freelance role, over the past ten years.


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

Robert: My proudest achievements are the Two Carat award, and the subsequent promotion, I received for my part in rolling out a global legal hold application. The project was the biggest I have ever worked on and required working with teams across several different functions. Today the application is being used in 48 countries.

Next, I want to dive deeper into our electronic discovery processes and start implementing automation. A lot of low-value work could be removed to make better use of everyone's time. Improved productivity and efficiency would be a win-win scenario. It would also make my job a lot easier.


Ramon: I think that my CCNP R&S certification has been a remarkable goal in my professional career.

In the next years I would like to get my CCNA Collaboration certification and start my journey into the CCIE R&S/Collaboration certifications. Also learn some scripting skills like Python and Shell-Scripting. 


Anthony: I've worn many hats over the years, but finally getting into IT was a proud moment and has re-ignited my passion for learning. I look forward to applying myself towards the CCNA Cyber-Ops courses and exams with great anticipation, for I've become very interested in this field and am hopeful for the opportunity to work within it. In regard to the current events, and incidents over the past few years... the need for talented Cyber-security professionals has never been greater. The path that has led me to here and now certainly hasn't been atypical...but here I am, here and now, and I am grateful to Cisco for the opportunity!


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

Robert: The people. I am always amazed at the breadth of knowledge everyone brings to the Cisco Learning Network. I don't think I have interacted with a more skilled group of individuals. On top of that, the willingness of the community to share their knowledge and experience makes me want to learn more so I can be a resource for those who come after me.


Ramon: Without doubt the Discussions Section is the most useful alongside the Community Study Groups.


Anthony: The thing I find most useful regarding the Cisco Learning Network are the like-minded individuals who make up the online community. The convenience of online/computer-based training in general is awesome...being able to rewind and rewatch a particular section to better understand is something I can only wish we'd had in physical classrooms...LoL. The thing that sets the Cisco Learning Network apart is the people involved in it...whether the moderators, instructors, or fellow excellent community of highly motivated, talented people with a wealth of knowledge.


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

Robert: My approach to IT has always been different than most other people. I have some college certificates, but I don't have a bachelor degree which is almost a prerequisite for any job today. It was less than a year ago when I earned my first professional certification - CompTIA A+. Despite this, I have managed to work my way up to supporting a corporate legal department in a global manufacturing company. I can barely comprehend what I accomplished, and I won't lie, it was hard work.

I learned a long time ago to admit when you don't know the answer to a question. It is always better to admit I don't know and commit to finding the answer than it is to try and talk my way out of the situation. Taking the time to find the correct answer grew my base of knowledge. At the same time, it proved my commitment to helping others and went a long way towards building goodwill. In a moment I'll show you why this is important.

Don't underestimate the value of helping people. It's easy to fire off 100 resumes to 100 companies, but the best job opportunities will almost always be the ones you hear about from friends or acquaintances. Building a social network, and I don't mean Facebook or LinkedIn, is hard. It is especially hard for me, but it can be easy. Remember all that goodwill I mentioned was worth building? All the people I took the time to help were my social network, and they didn't forget what I did for them. It was recommendations from people I had helped which secured my current position.

There were probably easier ways to get where I am today. I could have finished my bachelor degree. I could have earned professional certifications sooner. What I want you to take away from this is success is possible if you are willing to put in the work. Hard work will be rewarded, but not always as fast as we would hope.


Ramon: To those considering a networking career, I encourage them to get involved in the Cisco Learning Network; this is the best place in the globe to start up and to continuing your career path.

Been honest a Networking career is a tough one but is fascinating too, so getting along with the right people is key in your success and every member in the CLN is very willing to help.


Anthony: Work on those subnetting skills until they become nearly automatic! And don't hesitate to ask questions on forums, seek out advice or answers from your peers. We all started out the same in the beginning, afterall!


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

Robert: My favorite anything switches from day-to-day. Lately, I have been listening to a lot of Slowdive, The National, and Minor Threat. However, my single favorite song has consistently been "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Iron Maiden. Take one of the greatest English poems and then set it to 13+ minutes of heavy metal, how could it be anything other than awesome?


Ramon: All time favorite movie: The kiss of the dragon (love action!)

Favorite book: the Bible

Anthony: I have a wide range of interests when it comes to movies, books and music, and could never pinpoint any 'favorite'...though recently I've really been enjoying William Gibson's works.