My Unlikely Cisco Tech Profession Began with a Detour

Robert Y. and his wife, Sara.If you happen to had been to return in time and ask 20-year-old Robert Yee the place he could 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 wished to know the wants of my group and assist these like my mother and father. And talking of my mother and father, this choice was simply the most recent in a string of minor disappointments. Regardless of this alteration in majors, my mother and father nonetheless supported me.

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

The legislation 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 became a full-time function, and I formally had my first IT job. I picked up the brand new abilities shortly however knew if I wished to proceed on this profession, I would want 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 laborious 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 change, or a firewall. It was all on-the-job coaching, I needed to be taught quick, and I had a number of assist from accomplice engineers that put up with my many questions. When the challenge was performed, 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 yr, I attended my first native Cisco Customers Group assembly. It was wonderful to be with a bunch of like-minded people who additionally wished to be taught Cisco know-how. Members of this group began to earn their CCIEs, and their tales impressed me to offer it a shot. I met my good buddies Jason Bomar and Joe Younger right here, and we shaped a examine group. We met many weekends to review. Jason was the primary to cross 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 Programs Engineer on the Business group overlaying 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 sources, construct trusted relationships with prospects, and perceive and challenge “my model.” These had been all vital to achieve success, they usually had been all new to me. With a number of assist and help 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 always. 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 had 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 laborious to think about that I’ve been at Cisco for 15-plus years in 4 completely different roles. I began as a Programs Engineer, have been a Technical Options Architect, and my final two positions have been in management. I’m at the moment the Programs Engineering Supervisor for a group of Knowledge Heart Networking Technical Options Architects, and I’m actually grateful for the dedication, data, and talent this group 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 special course, I’ve by no means totally forgotten my unique intent once I modified my school main to Asian and Asian American Research. Cisco provided me the chance to make a distinction in my group. In 2020, I began the Southern California chapter of Related Asian Affinity Community (CAAN), an ERO/ERG/Inclusive Group for AAPI and AAPI allies at Cisco. We’ve grown the chapter from about 30 to start with to over 90 members at the moment. It’s been an ideal alternative to showcase and share AAPI cultures and provides again to my group. 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 may be 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. Daily brings completely different challenges and new alternatives to be taught or train. 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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