Start of my journey

I have been wanting to start a blog, my blog, for a while now.  I've written a couple of things for company and Cisco blogs but by their nature they weren't *mine*.  And then an online challenge in the Cisco Champions Spark room prompted me into action.  And so here we are.

I wanted to choose a name for it that meant something, that reflected me.  Most of my online presence revolves around the fact that I now work for a VAR, designing and building networks with Cisco products, and that I have certain prestigious Cisco qualifications.  When you are chasing those certs, it is easy to let them define you - especially when you are able to claim your CCIE number.  It's just ten years since my number was given to me - years of practice leading me to reach the top of my configuration game! - and every couple of years since, I have slogged away for a couple of months to recertify.

Finding it tougher each time to pass due to the fact that my days at the CLI were getting fewer and further between (a seemingly inevitable consequence of that plaque going up on the wall) I took the chance of working on the alternative CCDE.  Here was a qualification that suited my role much better - showcasing far broader design and analysis abilities rather than the detailed config of Cisco devices.  Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of all the Cisco certs, not just because of the quality of the knowledge tested for, but also for the huge confidence boost that passing them brings - both to me and to my team mates and colleagues.  But the CCDE plays to a different set of skills, those of interpreting real business requirements, reasoning, compromise, as well as the application of  a broad understanding of a wide range of networking technologies.

And so in 2015, after hundreds of hours of study, reading and researching, eventually reaching the required standard I joined the ranks of the CCDE - then numbering less than 300 worldwide.  Rightfully proud of my achievement, I proceeded to plaster my CCDE number over every social media outlet and on my email signatures.

In recent months though, after another round of recerts, I came to realise that something has been missing (I'm not the only one - amongst others, in recent months Greg Ferro of Packet Pushers fame, has also been musing on whether maintaining the certification status is of benefit to his career from here in)   I have spent so long and expended so much energy in chasing these qualifications that I've neglected another aspect of my professional life, that of giving something of myself to my team, my  employer and the wider community.  I have been ploughing my furrow in this field for 20+ years now, and the experience and knowledge that has brought could be of some use to others I'm sure.

I stumbled over the concept of the Shokunin when reading about Jiro, a Tokyo sushi chef with three Michelin stars, who was the star of the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  I'll leave the reader to go and Google the story of this incredible gentleman, but the idea of the Shokunin - the artisan who with dedication and work ethic, strives every day to improve his own lot and those of his customers and community - really struck a chord.  I have come so far in my career so far, but there is so much more I can do, for others as well as for myself.  It's time to dedicate myself not just to the selfish pursuit of glory through badges of honour, but to properly developing my craft through passion, self-discipline, a constant desire to continue to improve, and helping my team to do the same.

Yes, I'll keep maintaining my certs as they serve a useful purpose.  But now I'm focussing on working to the benefit of myself and others in the pursuit of becoming The Network Shokunin.


  1. Congrats on getting this first post out - it is a BIG accomplishment and I look forward to following your journey.


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