Congratulations to Our New Community Spotlight Awards Recipients!

It’s time to celebrate YOU. Every quarter, we give three different awards to deserving members of the Cisco Learning Network. These individuals have gone above and beyond in their contributions to our community by sharing their time, knowledge, and experience in an effort to support fellow community members and hone their own skills. They are valuable assets to our community, and this is our way of giving back to you who make the Cisco Learning Network so special.




It is my honor to announce our new Community Spotlight Awards recipients:


Members' Choice: Juan
Technical Excellence: Augusto Carlson
Rookie: Michael McKenney






One of my favorite parts of this awards process is learning more about our Cisco Learning Network members. I hope you’ll take the time to get to know Juan, Augusto, and Michael a little better by reading through their Q&A below. Continue the conversation in the comments below with your own thoughts about these questions, and please join me in congratulating our new winners.



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

Juan: I hold an MSc. in Telecom Engineering and several Cisco certifications, including CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE Routing and Switching.

Augusto: I hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree in electrical engineering. I'm a former CCNA NetAcad student and now a NetAcad instructor for CCNA R&S and CCNA security. I hold both certifications. I have some other training in other IT areas - storage, virtualization, networking, etc.

Michael: I hold my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Detroit Mercy.  I have held various certifications from Cisco, Microsoft, VMWare, and others.   I am currently working on my CCNP, CCDP, VMWare VCP, and ISC2 CISSP.


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

Juan: I work as an engineer for a service provider. It’s a very dynamic job providing customers with high quality connectivity, digital platforms, and innovative end-to-end solutions.

Augusto: I'm an IT analyst as my main job, with a focus on the networking field.  I also teach NetAcad courses. What's cool about my job is that I need to always be learning new technologies and facing new challenges.

Michael: My job title is Information Systems Manager. I deal with all aspects of the data center from design to implementation.


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

Juan: I have been working in IT for the last 14 years in a service provider environment, and a lot has changed during that time. I could say that working in IT is what I was preparing for during my university studies, but it’s not. During my time at the university, there was a very clear line between communications and IT stuff, and during that time, my focus was on communications. Nowadays, with the system hyper convergence, all integrated technologies by a complex system are managed as a single system through standard interfaces to make possible the communication with another system, and that has changed the previous view of isolated systems.

Augusto: When I saw my older brother creating computer programs, I became interested in computer programming and decided to study computer science. Before I entered the university, my father interconnected two desktops and a notebook in my house, and I decided that I would focus on networking. I’ve been working in IT for 14 years.

Michael: I started in IT in 1982. I thought it would be a career that would continue to grow and change.

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

Juan: I have had the opportunity to work with an impressive professional team in one of the best companies I have ever met. During my time with them, we have provided the best possible technical solutions to clients in the public sector and companies for which I have been responsible. What I am most proud of is the honesty and transparency I've had with the customers with whom I have been working all these years, linking in a sustainable way business needs with state-of-the-art technological solutions.

There is a real need to expand the base knowledge we acquired in the networking field. In my humble opinion, it's not about learning some new programming language, but it’s about learning new ways to do the same things in a more efficient, flexible, and responsive way. I think that SDx, DevOps, Big Data, and IP transition to v6 are going to be points of major interest in the years to come.

Augusto: I'm proud to have a solid career and to be recognized by my peers as a good person to work with. I'm studying for CCNP R&S. Next I'm going to direct my career towards CCDA and CCDP.

Michael: I have spent time mentoring young women in STEM and network engineering. My mentor said this was the most important role of being an engineer.


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

Juan: CLN community is a great learning platform with many experts with lots of professional experience answering questions about technology and helping other users to solve problems. I try to answer some questions daily, and I've found that I learn myself as much as I try to help to solve other members' questions. The free webinars are great too and I always try to find time to attend live.

Augusto: The discussion forums and study groups are an amazing place to learn and to share knowledge. It's a place with skilled people willing to help each other to solve problems, learn and share ideas.

Michael: The discussion groups provide knowledge to everyone involved.


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

Juan: I used to answer similar questions about that in the CLN as well as in real life. To anyone going for an expert-level certification, I would recommend three points: be patient, make a plan and stick to it, and focus on the basics. Be patient because it will take some time to understand any technology and you will need some extra time to become an expert. Make a plan and stick to it (credits to Fabien Dugouet), because with a plan, you can better track your progress and set deadlines in your studies, including exam dates. And last but not least, it’s important to be very focused on the technology basics because from that solid foundation, you will be in good shape to easily understand some specific vendor implementation or market trending application. The way is fun, so enjoy the walk.

Augusto: Do not try to learn too many things at the same time and do not delve too deep into a topic at once. Be sure that you know the basics before getting deep into your studies. Practice with labs and packet captures with Wireshark. Try to understand protocols and how things work, and do not focus on learning commands. Assess yourself to be sure that you know each topic. Participate in the CLN community.

Michael: I would say get your degree in computer or electrical engineering to start. Then get every certification you can think of.

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

Juan: I’m more into TV Shows than movies. Lately I have been watching Suits, and I’ve enjoyed it very much.

Augusto: I can’t choose a favorite!

Michael: My favorite Movie: Colossus: The Forbin Project. This movie should be required by anyone thinking about artificial intelligence taking over the world

Favorite Books: Sun Tzu: The Art of War and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Sun Tzu is an amazing book on how to deal with people and train them.

My favorite song: The Mummer’s Dance by Loreena McKennitt