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My Unlikely Cisco Tech Profession Began with a Detour

Robert Y. and his wife, Sara.In case you had 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 discipline would have been an unlikely reply. Why? As a result of I made a decision to alter majors from Chemical Engineering to Asian/Asian American Research. I needed to grasp the wants of my neighborhood and assist these like my mother and father. And talking of my mother and father, this resolution was simply the most recent in a string of minor disappointments. Regardless of this modification 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 regulation agency … in accounting. My purpose on the time was to check for the LSAT and go to regulation faculty. However life had different plans for me.

The regulation agency was going by way of a expertise migration however didn’t have a methods administrator. With some luck, I used to be supplied the chance to separate my time between accounting and IT work. It was 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 check. 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 flowery 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 a variety of assist from companion engineers that put up with my many questions. When the challenge was achieved, 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 superb to be with a bunch of like-minded people who additionally needed to study Cisco expertise. 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 check. 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 grasp the gross sales cycles, discover inside assets, construct trusted relationships with clients, and perceive and challenge “my model.” These had been all vital to achieve success, they usually had been all new to me. With a variety of assist and assist from teammates, mentors, managers, and particularly my spouse, Sara, I used to be capable of finding myself on the opposite facet of this wall.

Being a Cisco SE was the toughest job I’ve ever had. Studying new options and applied sciences challenged me consistently. I needed to be proficient with the portfolio, perceive how my clients’ companies labored and clarify in easy phrases how an answer may benefit 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 might see the belief I constructed with my shoppers and the outcomes of months or years-long tasks.

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 Programs Engineer, have been a Technical Options Architect, and my final two positions have been in management. I’m at present the Programs Engineering Supervisor for a group of Information Middle Networking Technical Options Architects, and I’m actually grateful for the dedication, information, 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.

Though my profession path took me in a unique route, I’ve by no means absolutely forgotten my unique intent once I modified my faculty main to Asian and Asian American Research. Cisco supplied me the chance to make a distinction in my neighborhood. In 2020, I began the Southern California chapter of Linked Asian Affinity Community (CAAN), an ERO/ERG/Inclusive Group for AAPI and AAPI allies at Cisco. We’ve grown the chapter from about 30 at first to over 90 members at present. It’s been an important alternative to showcase and share AAPI cultures and provides again to my neighborhood. As nice as my time at Cisco has been, I’ve observed all through my profession there haven’t been lots of people who regarded like me, particularly in gross sales management. I feel there may be actual alternative to alter that. This has been an incredible 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. On daily basis brings completely different challenges and new alternatives to study or educate. I’m grateful that Cisco has supplied me the chance to develop my profession and pursue my ardour all inside one firm.

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