I’ve thrown my hat into the Cisco Champion program for another year. I’m returning for 2019! I’ve been part of the program since the beginning which I believe is late 2014 or early 2015. Since then I’ve seen the program evolve.
It’s similar to being an advocate or evangelist of Cisco solutions. But I’m not required to sell my soul to Cisco. In fact, being a Cisco Champion gives me an advantage as a network engineer. While I still work on various vendor equipment, I can identify Cisco solutions more easily.
My history with network engineering started with Cisco and grew with Cisco. Which is why it’s the primary technology I work with. This is why becoming a Cisco Champion made sense.
What Does It Mean To Me
What does it mean to me, to be a Cisco Champion? It means having more engagement with different teams within Cisco. Increasing my knowledge of Cisco technologies. Which in turn allows me to deliver value to others in different forms of communications such as blogs, podcasts, etc. Additionally, it means I can provide input into Cisco’s solutions. It’s a two-way conversation.
Community is a big driver. The Cisco Champion program has done a phenomenal job growing a community. There’s the Cisco Champions Radio to hear about new products and to teach others as well, events during Cisco Live in which we get together, meet new people, and learn new things. We use WebEx Teams to communicate with each other and help each other out.
It really has evolved from its inception.
Benefits as a Cisco Champion
There are many upsides when you’re a Cisco Champion. You get access to certain people in the business unit. They talk to you, ask you for feedback, and you provide input. There are pre-briefings for new releases and future announcements. Sometimes there are events you can attend such as Cisco DevNet Create -- where I got the urge to learn programming.
At Cisco Live there are many opportunities for a Cisco Champion. You get a World of Solutions tour before it’s completely set up and get a behind the scenes look at NOC. I’ve been to the Whisper Suites and VIP Suites -- which you have to follow an NDA. As a podcaster, I recorded episodes with various people for Clear To Send at the Podcast Domain. And in 2018, I had front row seats to the keynote, along with other Cisco Champions, and took a selfie with Chuck Robbins. He also hung out for a while and spoke to us which as a nice touch.
How To Apply
You can tell, I like being in the Cisco Champion program. You don’t have to give anything up to be in this group. You don’t have to work solely on Cisco technologies. But it does bring you closer to Cisco.
To become a Cisco Champion, every October/November you have the chance to apply. Start up your blog, publish your thoughts regularly, and join the community (could be Twitter, Facebook, whatever social media of your choice) and then head over to Cisco Champions Public -- Cisco Community to be on the look out for the application window.