My Unlikely Cisco Tech Profession Began with a Detour


Robert Y. and his wife, Sara.For those who 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 needed to grasp the wants of my neighborhood and assist these like my dad and mom. And talking of my dad and mom, this choice was simply the most recent in a string of minor disappointments. Regardless of this variation 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 legislation agency … in accounting. My objective on the time was to check for the LSAT and go to legislation college. However life had different plans for me.

The legislation agency was going by means of a know-how migration however didn’t have a methods administrator. With some luck, I used to be provided the chance to separate my time between accounting and IT work. It become 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 finding out for my first certification, I got here throughout an article on-line from somebody in Hong Kong that talked about this tremendous laborious certification known as the Cisco Licensed Internetwork Knowledgeable (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 number of assist from associate engineers that put up with my many questions. When the undertaking was completed, I noticed I LOVED networking. I doubled down on my finding out. 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 wonderful 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 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 Could 2003.

In 2008, after years of hesitation and interviewing with three totally different groups, I lastly made it to Cisco as a pre-sales Programs 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 grasp the gross sales cycles, discover inner assets, construct trusted relationships with prospects, and perceive and undertaking “my model.” These had been all important to achieve success, and so they 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 benefit them. Nonetheless, 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 purchasers 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 totally 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 workforce of Knowledge Middle Networking Technical Options Architects, and I’m actually grateful for the dedication, data, 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.

Though my profession path took me in a special course, I’ve by no means absolutely forgotten my authentic intent after I modified my faculty 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 Group for AAPI and AAPI allies at Cisco. We’ve grown the chapter from about 30 to start with to over 90 members at present. It’s been an amazing 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 regarded like me, particularly in gross sales management. I believe there’s actual alternative to vary 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 individuals might imagine that 15 years at a single firm is a lifetime. For me, it’s occurred in a blink. Day by day brings totally different challenges and new alternatives to study 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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