The Cisco Designated VIP program recognizes exceptional contributors among Cisco online communities, including the Cisco Learning Network and the Cisco Support Community. With this program, Cisco formally recognizes the positive contributions that these excellent individual members make to the Cisco Learning Network and to the greater Cisco Certification and IT communities.
Anyone can become a recognized VIP on the site as long as certain requirements are met: Cisco Learning Network VIP requirements and benefits. Commonly, VIPs are first recognized on the site in our Community Spotlight Awards program and then move onto VIP status later.
Aref Alsouqi is a Cisco network and security engineer with 16 years' experience who lives in Italy, where he works as an IT consultant for his small company. Aref is the man of "Hmm, what if I do that instead…? Let me try to change that and see what happens…!! Why is that working that way and not the other?!!" Aref spends his days and nights digging deep and immersing himself into Cisco technologies. As well as being a Cisco fan, he also works with other technologies, like Windows and Linux servers, Mac OS X, VMware, and Exchange servers. Aref considers himself a troubleshooter, and VPN troubleshooting is one of his favorite things to do. He studied on his own and gained experience in his own small lab with real Cisco devices.
Aref really enjoys working in the IT field, especially with Cisco technologies, and he always tried to convince his customers to replace their non-Cisco devices with Cisco ones! He has worked, and provided support, for customers in many countries around the world, including the USA, UK, Italy, Germany, Dubai, Sweden, Jordan. He has also provided technical solutions to Internet Service Providers and telecommunication companies over the world. Typically he used remote technical support sessions to accomplish his job. Recently he moved on to work in different multi-national global companies in the network security teams.
Aref is always an active member on CLN (though he may be a little quieter during his final preparation for Cisco exams!) and he won the CLN Spotlight Award on May 2014. He enjoys participating and giving support on CLN and he considers that an important part of his continuing learning as well. Aref believes that CLN is an important technical and professional resource for all IT technicians since it has a lot of very well qualified people from all over the world. He also believes in sharing his IT experience with the others and learning from them at the same time as well.
Aref started his journey toward his CCIE Security exams. After that he will be working toward his CCDE. He is looking forward to mastering IPv6, FirePOWER, ISE, TrustSec and MPLS. Aref believes that he won't ever be finished with learning about technology as there are always new things to learn. He also believes that a lot of undocumented things are learnt only by sharing expertise with others and by building scenarios in lab environments. His dream is to reach a master level of expertise and knowledge within Cisco! When Aref has free time, he enjoys swimming and traveling to discover and explore the beautiful world, people and their culture.
I started out back in the nineties as a desktop guy; back then that was how it went, and graduated into networking operating systems from there. Cisco came into my work life about the mid 2000's as part of a district wide upgrade and I never looked back. The certification pieces grew from that exploration, as well as a desire to get a stamp of approval on the knowledge I was gaining.
I've worked on networks large and small since but always with a keen eye towards keeping aligned with a Cisco path.
The Cisco Learning Network became an outgrowth of that. I found CLN to be a perfect forum, what with the wealth of knowledge that seemed to be constantly waiting in the wings, and the networking rock stars that would pop in from time to time. At first I was hesitant to chime in, answer questions, etc, but after a while that became more comfortable as I became more comfortable, and I found I had something to share from time to time.
I love movies and music and I am also an avid chess player.
I keep a blog on my progress towards CCIE and also have a Youtube channel mostly geared towards certification.
Chandan Singh Takuli is a (CCIE) Voice #41344. He is also a Cisco Designated VIP of 2014 for the Cisco Learning Network and a Community Spotlight Award Winner for August 2013 – October 2013. He also holds his Juniper Certification in JNCIA-JUNOS & JNCIS-ENT. His work experiences include Managing & Maintaining the PepsiCo India networks across India with PepsiCo WAN connectivity, where he also Received Star Performer of The Year Award 2011-12. His other job roles also include HCL Infosystem Ltd as Network Engineer *** Team Lead for National Informatics Centre (India), and he holds a Certification in Linux for RHCE Module 033 & 133
During his early years, after earning his B.Tech in Computer Science, Chandan was inspired by a CCIE to work towards his own certification. This is when his future course of action became clear. While incorporating an absolute method to reach his goal, and finding an approach for himself, he spent countless hours studying, researching and pondering, which led him to leave his job to devote his time more fully to preparing for his CCIE voice. “Everything is possible when you fuel yourself with curiosity of “why’s and what’s” he says. “Many doubts will arise as you work towards your goal, but that should only inspire you to further research. Networking can be learned & excelled by any individual with the right amount of fire and passion.”
As a proactive and a contributing member of the Cisco Learning Network, he dedicates a portion of his time to making positive contributions. As for his future ventures, his next step would be to attain his CCIE R&S, amongst others. As SDN is making a bigger place in a Network Engineer’s life, he is also looking forward to going deeper into programming as he has experience as a C/C++ programmer. Chandan is located In India. (UTC+05:30).
Daniel Larsson is a Senior IT-consultant within a small group of IT-specialists that work with IT-Infrastructure projects. He spends his days working with complex projects that involve looking at the IT-Infrastructure architecture as well as the underlying network that taps into it. He grew up during the years when IT was becoming a major profession and during this time he developed programming skills. He also started working with IT early on as a programmer at the age of 16.
Then he had to experience the "IT-Bubble" and during this time he decided to try something else and started to work with electronics & hardware engineering. Eventually he found his way back to IT and networking again around 2010. He holds a degree in Information Technology Engineering, and it was during his University time that he came in contact with Cisco Equipment "for real" and started to work towards obtaining his CCNA via the Cisco Networking Academy-program.
He kept studying and quickly obtained his CCNP & CCDA and during his CCIE-studies he's been known to scavenge books from all the Cisco Certification Tracks available. He's knowledge-thirsty and likes to read technical books on new topics, even though he actively denies it among his friends - it's his fetish. He's currently pursuing a lot of certifications, but his main focus is the CCIE R&S.
He is actively participating in discussions at Cisco Learning Network that involve helping other students achieve their first Cisco-certification and he often tries to give helpful career advice - or in any other way give his objective opinion about related topics. He strongly believes in that sharing knowledge with other people is the key to success. He would like to someday be more actively involved in teaching other students in a class.
Working with IT is a demanding business so during his spare time he likes to "disconnect" and watch movies, take a walk, spend time with family, play fisbee-g olf and go fishing.
Daniel Dib, CCIE #37149, CCDE #20160011, is a Senior Network Architect at Conscia Netsafe. He works with creating scalable, modular and highly available network designs that meet business needs. Daniel started out in implementation and operations and got his CCIE in 2012. In May 2016 he became the second person in Sweden to get CCDE certified.
He often acts as a subject matter expert for his customers with deep expertise in routing, switching, multicast and fast convergence. He is an active person in the networking community and believes in helping people reach their full potential. He writes technical articles, blogs and holds member led study session for the members of the Cisco Learning Network.
In his spare time he enjoys the company of his two children and his wife. He likes to work out and is a big sports fan. Daniel lives in Sweden and is located in UTC+1 time zone.
My IT story began when I was in 6th grade working learning HTML and Web Design for the first time. It was at that point I knew my future would be in computers, just not sure what exactly I would do.
It wasn't until I reached College at Jacksonville University, pursuing a degree in Computer Science, that I found my niche, Network Engineering. I had heard my father talking about Cisco Certifications at some point in the past and was curious to find out what it was all about. I saw the video from Jeremy at CBT nuggets on ICND1 for the first time and I guess you could say fell in love with Networking. I had no idea how much went into sending information from one computer to another in a timely fashion. The whole thing fascinated me.
I powered through ICND1 and ICND2 during college graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science and a CCNA. I was fortunate enough have been offered a job at the place I innterned as their Network Engineer. There is nothing like that shock of your first networking job after achieving CCNA. This motivated me to keep going with my studies finally putting the pin in my CCNP certification for R&S earlier last year.
In my spare time I enjoy Classical Music, Audio Engineering, Video Production, Dance (not that good yet but working on it) and more.
I've always had an insatiable curiosity to know how things work and what can I do to improve them. Growing up, I was always breaking stuff and asking my parents "why?", they even bought me a book called "The Why of Things" – because I was asking too many questions. So I broke and repaired my computer several times just to know how it was working, what was inside. When I was at the university, a friend told me about studying in a Cisco Academy, that networking was amazing, but I didn't know how cool it would be. I started as an Academy Student, then became an Instructor, playing with switches and making jokes with my students.
Eventually, realized that CCNA was not enough, that I wanted to know more. I started to make personal goals, most of them big goals, but I divided them into smaller, achievable goals, where every triumph is a joyful checkpoint. Got CCNA Security, CCDA, CCNP R&S and CCDP. And, now pursuing CCDE! Yeah, its awesome to know how things work and how you can play with them - and being certified for doing that is even better! Nothing of this could be possible without support of my friends, family, CLN and my co-workers - I have learned A LOT from all of them!
CLN is full of amazing people ready to give you a hand and guide you without asking something in return. When someone explains something to someone else, you can follow the thread and learn things right along with them. It's a win-win situation! This is a BIG family and always waiting for you to ask: "What's next?"
Currently I am working as a network engineer at IBM (since 2016), and our team supports a client with a challenging transition project involving massive migrations and consolidations of DCs. My daily responsibilities include working with Nexus platforms and DC technologies in ACI and non-ACI environments mixed together, along with Load Balancers and some other devices. We support an environment that always needs more and more integration, which can be a challenge to accomplish sometimes.
I currently live at Brno, Czech Republic, I'm a latin guy that just turned 25 years old on December 31st, trying a new city and a new life. In my free time I try to learn new stuff, support the staff of my university in Caracas with networking advice, also try to update my blog, go out with some friends that I've met here, watch series, anime and movies I can find. I am trying to improve my Czech too, and that's a big challenge, indeed.
I believe it's important to make an impact in peoples' lives and make a difference wherever you are, whatever you do. Think different, be curious, don't be afraid of being yourself, stand in front of the crowd, learn as much as you can, and "pass the ball" as I tell to my students, to help another player to go onto the field.
Elvin Arias was born and raised in the Dominican Republic in the town of San Jose De Ococa. As a child, he envisioned working in science or economics. All that changed after he received a scholarship to study technology, specifically networking. The scholarship provided him with the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and start his career in IT where he has been working since 2008. Currently Elvin works with a group of Network Technicians and Administrators for a government entity, where his primary focus is network security. He enjoys the daily challenges of troubleshooting, monitoring and maintaining the network and the supporting environment.
With the training in networking that he received, reading blogs, using videos, and being an active member of the Cisco Learning Network, Elvin passed the CCNA exams in Route and Switching, Security and also maintains a CCNP certification in Routing and Switching. Elvin is proud to work as an IT professional and hopes to earn additional certifications though continued study.
"I like being able to collaborate with other people on different technologies. I've learned a ton here on the Cisco Learning Network," he says. Elvin has some sound advice for those who are interested in pursuing a certification: "Find what you would like to do and start building your professional career based on that." When it comes to choosing a path in networking, he also notes: "…there is a plethora of possibilities: routing & switching, security, voice, wireless, data center and more." He adds, "Finding a mentor is always a good idea, too. Be patient and never give up!"
When not involved in networking, he likes to listen to music, study math, play with his dogs, watch movies and catch up with his favorite TV series - Game of Thrones and Dexter.
Kevin Santillan is a technology enthusiast who enjoys sharing his knowledge and experiences and has a knack for teaching and mentoring others. As a Network Engineer for a multinational company, Kevin spends his days working on network design, implementation and support. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering in 2012 and earned his professional license that same year. Currently, Kevin holds four certifications, namely: CCNP, CCNA, CCNA Security and ITIL v3 Foundation. He strives to learn more and is preparing to become a CCIE. Kevin strongly believes that good discussions can be a powerful tool for learning. He contributes to the Cisco Learning Network community by providing concise answers to questions and producing online technical content.
In his spare time, Kevin can be found reading, learning new technology, listening to music, or hanging out with his family and friends. Kevin resides in the Philippines.
Mark Holm is a Network Consultant with many different areas of work, covering anything from basic office LANs to large-scale enterprise data centers and service provider networks. He is a 3xCCIE: R&S, SP & DC (#34763) and CCDE #20160020. At work, he spends his time doing network design, implementation, troubleshooting and network architecture for clients. He is often seen hanging around at Cisco Learning Network to assist other candidates in reaching their goals by participating in discussions and writing technical documents. He really enjoys the time he spends there, and finds it extremely rewarding as it helps him stay sharp on all the small details of networking technologies and terminologies that are easily (and quite often) forgotten. Always seeking to extend his knowledge, chances are that he will pursue even more certifications in the future. Learning new technologies and getting into new areas of work is simply a big driver for him. He advocates for SDN (ACI in particular) because he finds it is a technology that is cool to work with and that it provides new exiting possibilities that have been difficult to achieve with classic networks.
His spare time (he actually does have some) is spent working out, playing online games, photographing and enjoying life in general. He is a tech aficionado and gadget freak, both of which requires some time to keep up at especially finding the next gadget to buy can be (and often is) a time-consuming process.
He lives in Denmark and is as such most active during the day time of the CET time zone.
Martin Losik is former small business owner, now co-owner of family business and an independent IT Consultant with over 20 years’ experience in IT working in USA and Europe. Working as an independent contractor, Martin had opportunity to handle all aspects of computing. His recent projects were large Windows 7 migration and end-user support, Networking infrastructure replacement, HP server consolidation and migration.
After graduating Capella University with Bachelor degree in Networking, he began his focus on networking filed. Martin would like to move from “Jack of all trades“ IT person and focus on particular field, toward being in charge of providing networking solution for small and medium businesses. His goal for 2016 is obtaining CCIE R&S certification.
He is an active member of the Cisco Learning Network since 2009 and has been awarded the Cisco Support Community badge in 2012. Besides satisfaction of helping others, CLN provides a lot of problem solving opportunities, an helps him in retaining knowledge, and learning technologies and concepts from others.
Currently Martin holds CCNA and CCNP (Routing and Switching), CCNA Voice, CompTIA A+, Network +, MCSA, and various HP certifications. He passed CCIE Written exam in 2015; planning to take CCIE lab in 2016.
Mike is a Sr. Enterprise Network Architect for a multinational beverage corporation and manufacturer. Mike spends his days working with virtual networking devices to see if NfV viable for his company, Network Segmentation, Network Automation and anything around the Nexus platform.
Mike holds the following Cisco certifications: CCNP Data Center, CCNP: Security, CCNP: R&S, CCIP(retired) CCNA: DC, CCNA: Security, CCNA: R&S as well as a handful of Cisco Certified Specialist certifications. Mike is currently in the process of studying for Cisco’s new cloud certification track, the CCIE Data Center exam as well as teaching himself Python.
Mike is also a MCITP: EA, MCSE, Citrix Certified Administrator: Access Gateway and a Citrix Certified Professional: Networking and also holds a Masters of Science in Information Systems.
Whenever Mike has free time, he likes to blog about anything in the networking / Cisco technology world at https://www.routedinterface.com, as well as spending time with his wife, son and two Boston Terriers, Fenway and Chloe. One of Mikes favorite quotes is by Walt Disney from the movie Meet the Robinsons, "Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
Milan Rai is from Nepal and started his career as a Desktop Support Technician for a small computer shop. Graduating in management, but with an interest to learn about networking, he enrolled in studies for CCNA. Milan now holds global certifications in MCSE, CCNA & CCNP R&S. Right now, he is based in Australia, and he works for one of Australia's best women's fashion brand as a head of IT department.
After beginning his career in networking, he came to realize that the condition of IT in Nepal often made it hard to get good career counseling and support. Knowing this, he began Career Counseling sessions to talk about the importance of IT careers for school and college students. "Motivating youth towards the IT profession can bring big development for the nation", is one of the quotes that he loves to use as a motivational speaker. And his dream is to set up a perfect networking platform for the upcoming generation in Nepal.
Milan was a Cisco Learning Network Spotlight Award Winner in November 2013 for being an active member of the community. He is currently involved as Community Administrator of the Nepal Cisco User Group (NCUG), an open community for Cisco Certification students from Nepal. Everyday lots of student approach him with theirs lots of question regarding Cisco certification and Milan gives his best career counseling to them. Milan is one of the recipient of Cisco Global Cybersecurity Scholarships so he is eagerly waiting for his class to commence. Cyber security being one of the favorite topic for him, he wants to start his career in Cyber security and wants to educate normal users and prepare them as one of the best human firewalls.
After graduating college, I ended up picking graphics design as a career choice. However I soon found myself mystified with the magical world of internetworking on many occasions. I did a little looking around and happened to stumble upon Cisco Learning Network. Studying for the Cisco Certification matched both my desire and priorities. It seemed an obvious choice from there on for me to get fully involved in the networking world. Currently, I hold my CCNP in R&S and am working towards CCIE R&S.
Since then I have dedicated myself entirely to studies. I'm highly motivated and also enjoy looking into other tracks specifically Data Center and Design to upgrade my skills. I believe the most important thing I have learned over the course of my studies is one shouldn't expect to have a complete, revealed understanding of anything at once. Each new concept learned is a building block towards full understanding. In this way, looking into the design and data center track has given me a better perspective and provided deeper understanding for various concepts relating to R&S and has been rewarding. I believe combining this concept along with critical thinking, reasoned arguments, and logic is the most efficient way to understand technology.
Cisco Learning Network is a repository of valuable technical knowledge. There are some amazing members here who post their applied knowledge. Learning from their experiences has helped me progress in my studies and will help all who seek answers to their questions while studying.
During my spare time, I catch up on TV shows, music, and movies. I have a strong passion for all animals and their welfare. I also enjoy browsing the support community forums and read responses on various subjects by the professionals there as well.
Ever since I was 7 I knew that I wanted to be in IT but it wasn't until high school that I discovered Cisco and the world of Networking that I knew exactly what I wanted to do. The school I went to was a registered Netacad and allowed students to take the CCNA as a course however being young and naive I never actually took the exam. Between high school and actually getting my CCNA I had several IT jobs in various fields of IT ranging from help desk to administering Windows and Linux Servers and also Voice services however I am currently working as a Network Engineer for a State Government organisation which allows me to get my hands on some pretty cool stuff.
After 10 years of putting off my CCNA I was encouraged by some work colleagues to just go for it. So I did and obtained my CCNA in R&S which was followed by my CCNP in R&S 11 months later. I have also obtained my CCNA SP and am currently working towards the CCNA Wireless and CCDA with plans to continue on to CCDP, and one day the all mighty coveted CCIE in R&S.
My spare time is taken up by my 4 kids, camping, fishing, Martial Arts, Studying and Labbing for my next exam and the CLN forum. I find the CLN forum is not only such a great place to meet all kinds of people from all different backgrounds but to learn from those very same people as well.
I started my computer education and moved from BASIC and then Pascal programming in my teen years to professional IT career as a PC assembly technician. But it was when I discovered networking, I decided that this is what I want to excel in. I started playing with Cisco topologies in GNS3 instead of computer games and watching Wireshark captures instead of cartoons. In 2011 I finally made a "leap of faith" and went into a networking-only role. I've never regretted it and always found it challenging, interesting and rewarding.
I like spending my time reading posts on CLN, trying to help other people understand technology and solve entertaining challenges that other members design and publish.
I've been registered on CLN since 2010, but started actively participating more recently. And I've found that giving something to the community has benefitted me too, every single time.
Sean is currently working as a technical architect for a large IT service provider. He has more than 10 years of Cisco experience. This includes broad experience in cloud computing, data centre, routing, switching, firewalls, wireless and security technologies. His proudest achievement to date was to successfully to lead a team of network engineers to design and build a Cisco based network for a $2 billion public hospital.
Sean has provided networking solutions to address business challenges for a variety industries including health, banking, mining, oil and gas, insurance and state government.
He is tertiary qualified in IT from a Sandstone University. In addition he has completed four Cisco Network Professional and five Cisco Associate certifications. In 2016 Sean plans to continue with his certification journey by completing additional CCNPs.
In his spare time Sean enjoys catching up with friends and trying to keep fit.
Steven Davidson has over twenty years of experience in the field of Information Technology. The last eight years have been spent working almost exclusively with Cisco products and technologies in the area of IP telephony, security, and data center. He spends his days working on a test and certification team and collaborates with architects and other engineers to integrate and evaluate new products and technologies in a large-scale lab. He holds certifications in CCNP Routing and Switching and CCNA Voice. He is currently studying for his CCIE in Routing and Switching and hopes to pass his written exam before the end of June with an eye on his first lab attempt before the end of 2016. His spare time is filled with family time, raising two small children with his wife in the Upper Midwest. He also enjoys staying physically active and recently completed his first marathon, the Twin Cities Marathon, in the fall of 2015.
VIPs from previous years