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 tries 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 uses remote technical support sessions to accomplish his job.
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 is about to start his journey toward his CCIE Security exam. After that he will be working toward his CCIE R&S, where he is looking forward to mastering IPv6 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 travelling 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 Dib is a Senior Network Consultant and CCIE #37149 (RS). He spends his days working with network design, architecture, and as a subject matter expert, but also network design implementation. He has been in the networking industry since 2007 and is a former student of the Cisco NetAcad. Daniel holds a degree in network engineering, which is where he first got in touch with Cisco equipment. 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. He is currently studying to become a Cisco Certified Design Expert.
In his spare time he enjoys the company of his two children and his fiancée. 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.
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.
Jon K. Johnson (Jay) retired from 20 years service in the U.S. Air Force as a Senior Manager (E-7/MSgt) from the communications career field. During this time, he earned the Air Force rated "Network" prefix (“N”) for continued demonstration of excellence regarding his network skillset. Over this 20 year period of service (Nov 1990 – Feb 2011), he was not only fortunate enough to see the beginnings of technological advances that have become a staple in today’s society, (e.g., open internet access, electronic communication/storage/records management), but to have also played a part in their implementation on the Air Force network during various parts of his active duty service time.
Since retirement, he's worked in the position(s) of "Information Assurance Network Manager for the Army (under the company "Data Tactics Inc."), Voice and Data Network Technical Manager for HCL Technologies, and Datacenter Implementation Manager for a P3I Inc. He's currently working for Arma-Global as a Network Engineer. Within the next year or so, he hopes to have his CCNP Voice and ITIL certifications completed.
Jay is most recognized for providing his own self-styled videos to assist other learners (and himself) as they make their way through Cisco's evolving technologies. As a lifelong student, Jay understands that there's "many roads to the top of the mountain" and all we need to do is "find one" that's appropriate for our current situation.
Currently, Jay holds Cisco certifications for CCNA (Voice, R&S, Security), CCDA, CCNP (R&S), and CompTIA (Network+, Server+, Security+, I.T. Project+). Additionally, he holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Psychology.
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 working areas, covering anything from basic office LAN’s to large-scale enterprise data centers and service provider networks. He is a 3xCCIE: R&S, SP & DC (#34763). At work, he spends his time doing network design, implementation, troubleshooting and network architecture for clients. He is often seen hanging around at CLN 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. And as if being a 3xCCIE isn’t enough, he is currently studying for the CCDE exam - and everyone that knows him tends to agree that even that probably won’t be enough for him. 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 possibilities that previously have been difficult to achieve.
His spare time 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 mostly active when he is in the CET timezone.
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. As a result of his efforts and dedication, he now works as a Network Administrator at Himalayan Bank Ltd, one of the most reputable commercial banks in Nepal.
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 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. As the representative of NCUG, he delivers speeches regarding the importance of the Cisco Learning Network and the Nepal Cisco User Group. Milan is currently working hard for his CCIE and spends his most of his spare time on the Cisco Learning Network. His dream is to set up a perfect networking platform for the upcoming generation in Nepal.
Riikka Sihvonen, often also known as "Sir", "Mr. Sihvonen", or "She's the man", is a Network Engineer and overall technology aficionado. She currently works as a Data Center Technician for a local service provider. Her main responsibilities include maintaining and developing data center operations. Riikka received her Bachelor's degree in 2012, and academic success earned her an honorary scholarship. Riikka was first introduced to the industry in 2008, when she was a student of Cisco Networking Academy. Seeing the Cisco certification pyramid at the first lesson, she was instantly enthralled and determined to reach the top one day. The journey continues but Riikka currently holds four Cisco certifications: CCNP, CCNA, CCDA, and CCNA Security. Riikka is tirelessly working to obtain more, and is now pursuing her CCIE. In addition to being an avid learner, Riikka is an enthusiastic teacher of networking technologies. She strongly believes in education, and she likes to share her knowledge by replying to questions in detail, producing technical content, and contributing to a blog.
When not immersed in professional development or contributing to the Cisco Learning Network community, Riikka enjoys photography and sports. Recently she has also become more involved in non-profit organizations and voluntary work, trying to contribute to charities whenever possible. Riikka resides in Finland and is located in the UTC+2 time zone.
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