What is the Cisco Champion program?
That is a bit difficult to explain, but let me tell you what it is about. Cisco Champions are a select group of technical leaders and experts within the networking industry, they are not working for Cisco, that are eager to learn and share anything about technology and innovation. The sharing can be via blogging, social media, but also offline. I think key is that Cisco Champions are eager to learn any new technology, try it out and provide honest feedback, directly to Cisco or to the outside world. The Cisco Champion program brings these prolific tech adepts together in an active and social community where they share there experiences, opinions and of course things Cisco related. It is a Cisco program and we all have a passion in one way or another for Cisco. That doesn’t mean that everything Cisco does is perfect by default, we can and are critical at times.
The program is run from within Cisco where Lauren, Kim, Brett and Andi are our point of contacts and they organize some great stuff for us champions. Sure they try to keep a tab on us in the WebEx teams rooms that we have, but they also organize a lot during Cisco Live conferences like behind the scene tours, meetups and visits to the innovation forum.
As part of the program we get the opportunity to get earlier information on products or solutions that Cisco is going to announce. For example there is some great stuff going to happen in the Enterprise market, but I’m not allowed to talk about it just yet.. But I am able to testdrive some parts already out! The program of course is also active on social media, we have our podcasts and Brett,Lauren, Kim, Andi and Denise support us in questions that we could have related to Cisco as well, trying to get the right person into a champion’s feedback Friday or Champion Radio podcast on a topic.
To give you an example, based on the feedback of my blog on DNA at Cisco’s perspective I got the idea to write a book on Intent Based Networking and how to get there. Brett arranged with some fellow champions a podcast on how to get published with the product line manager from Cisco Press and here I am, writing a book on transforming campus networks to Intent Based.
How did you become a Cisco Champion?
Probably one of the champions of the first hour, Michel van Kessel told me about the program at CiscoLive US. He told me about the program and that I’d fit in the team and program. So in november, when you have to apply for the program, a colleague of mine actually submitted me to the program with info on me with referral to Michel and I was selected to be one of the champions in 2017!
How is it to be a Cisco Champion?
It is really great! It’s not the recognition which is nice, but the community feels like a great family and the collective knowledge we share is just astonishing. If a fellow champion runs into a problem, we just try to help him with our own experiences and provide feedback. And of course it’s the other way around as well; if I run into an issue and ask about it, chances are some other champion will help me. Also some Cisco employees (some are ex-champions by the way) look into the spaces as well and help you out. I once had a thing on deploying Hyperflex and after validation I received the right document via a system engineer and I could deploy that document and I could move forward.
The community feeling and shared knowledge is great. We have quite some fun as well, both online as well as offline. At last Cisco Live in Barcelona we strolled through the city with our own tour guide David P
Just to give you an idea on how active the champions are, we usually are on the top 5 of the social meetups for Cisco Live and well, the IOS 12 feature for screen time tells me that Webex Teams is my #1 app receiving push messages for every single week..
Would you recommend the program to others?
Absolutely! If you love networking, technology and share that with others, active with blogging or social media, and want to be part of this community, just apply for the 2019 program. You do have to apply each year, so in January / February it’s always always a bit exciting to check your email if you were selected. If you want to apply, or refer a friend, the application is now open for 2019. You can apply via this form.
Is there something else you would like to share?
I think the Cisco Champions are really amazing. It’s a great family and community and we so much great stuff. We even have our first European Champion meetup, organised by ourselves on the 30 November in London. I really hope I can continue to remain part of this great community and family
Oh and before I forget, thanks to the Champions program we also have a great touch base with Devnet, so we are really on the developments of networking tech!
Thank you Pieter-Jan for answering the first episode of “The Five..” . It was great to hear from you and you are really excited on the Champions program.