My Unlikely Cisco Tech Profession Began with a Detour

When you have been to return in time and ask 20-year-old Robert Yee the place he can be working in 2023, Cisco would have been an unlikely reply. Working in any technical subject would have been an unlikely reply. Why? As a result of I made a decision to vary majors from Chemical Engineering to Asian/Asian American Research. I needed to know the wants of my neighborhood and assist these like my dad and mom. And talking of my dad and mom, this determination was simply the most recent in a string of minor disappointments. Regardless of this transformation in majors, my dad and mom nonetheless supported me.

Upon commencement, with my newly minted Bachelor of Arts in Asian Research diploma, I discovered a full-time job at a regulation agency … in accounting. My aim on the time was to review for the LSAT and go to regulation college. However life had different plans for me.

The regulation agency was going by a know-how migration however didn’t have a programs administrator. With some luck, I used to be provided the chance to separate my time between accounting and IT work. It changed into a full-time position, and I formally had my first IT job. I picked up the brand new expertise shortly however knew if I needed to proceed on this profession, I would wish to review. This was the beginning of the certification growth.

Whereas learning for my first certification, I got here throughout an article on-line from somebody in Hong Kong that talked about this tremendous arduous certification referred to as the Cisco Licensed Internetwork Skilled (CCIE) and the frilly testing course of. This “Cisco” factor actually intrigued me. I filed that thought away however by no means forgot it.

In 1999 (pre-Y2K), I had my first alternative to deploy an end-to-end Cisco community. Up till this level, I had by no means touched a router, a swap, or a firewall. It was all on-the-job coaching, I needed to study quick, and I had lots of assist from companion engineers that put up with my many questions. When the venture was finished, I spotted I LOVED networking. I doubled down on my learning. I earned many Cisco Certifications, however that CCIE nonetheless appeared simply too daunting.

Robert, Jason, and Joe.That very same 12 months, I attended my first native Cisco Customers Group assembly. It was superb to be with a bunch of like-minded people who additionally needed to study Cisco know-how. Members of this group began to earn their CCIEs, and their tales impressed me to provide it a shot. I met my good pals Jason Bomar and Joe Younger right here, and we fashioned a examine group. We met many weekends to review. Jason was the primary to move his CCIE. Then, Joe and I handed our exams inside one week of one another in Might 2003.

In 2008, after years of hesitation and interviewing with three completely different groups, I lastly made it to Cisco as a pre-sales Techniques Engineer on the Business workforce masking Los Angeles. My very first day at Cisco was my birthday. It was a profession change, and I struggled to know the gross sales cycles, discover inner assets, construct trusted relationships with prospects, and perceive and venture “my model.” These have been all crucial to achieve success, and so they have been all new to me. With lots of assist and assist from teammates, mentors, managers, and particularly my spouse, Sara, I used to be capable of finding myself on the opposite aspect of this wall.

Being a Cisco SE was the toughest job I’ve ever had. Studying new options and applied sciences challenged me continually. I needed to be proficient with the portfolio, perceive how my prospects’ companies labored and clarify in easy phrases how an answer may gain advantage them. Nevertheless, it was additionally probably the most rewarding and satisfying job I’ve ever had. The outcomes of my work have been tangible. I may see the belief I constructed with my shoppers and the outcomes of months or years-long initiatives.

Robert and other CAAN members volunteering at a food bank.

It’s arduous to think about that I’ve been at Cisco for 15-plus years in 4 completely different roles. I began as a Techniques Engineer, have been a Technical Options Architect, and my final two positions have been in management. I’m presently the Techniques Engineering Supervisor for a workforce of Knowledge Middle Networking Technical Options Architects, and I’m really grateful for the dedication, information, and ability this workforce brings to the desk. Amongst them are one CCDE, two Cisco Press books, one upcoming Ph.D., and ten CCIE certifications.

Despite the fact that my profession path took me in a unique path, I’ve by no means absolutely forgotten my unique intent after I modified my school main to Asian and Asian American Research. Cisco provided me the chance to make a distinction in my neighborhood. In 2020, I began the Southern California chapter of Related Asian Affinity Community (CAAN), an ERO/ERG/Inclusive Neighborhood for AAPI and AAPI allies at Cisco. We’ve grown the chapter from about 30 at first to over 90 members presently. It’s been an incredible alternative to showcase and share AAPI cultures and provides again to my neighborhood. As nice as my time at Cisco has been, I’ve seen all through my profession there haven’t been lots of people who appeared like me, particularly in gross sales management. I believe there’s actual alternative to vary that. This has been a tremendous alternative to attach with and spotlight AAPI expertise, encourage them to think about management at Cisco and assist open these doorways for them.

Some folks might imagine that 15 years at a single firm is a lifetime. For me, it’s occurred in a blink. Every single day brings completely different challenges and new alternatives to study or educate. I’m grateful that Cisco has provided me the chance to develop my profession and pursue my ardour all inside one firm.

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