closeupThis post was written by guest blogger Jean-Philippe Desbiens, 23, a Cisco Meraki consulting systems engineer. Cisco CCNA certified since age 17, Jean-Philippe is now CCNP certified and studying for his CCIE. He is involved in his community and is always eager to learn new technologies.

Did you know that every two years, a global competition for professional trades is held somewhere in the world? That event, called WorldSkills, happened last month in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

WorldSkills is an International competition that brings together young people from all around the world to fight for the title of “best of the world” in their trades. I was one of them, as I represented Canada in the category IT – Network Systems Administration in 2013 in Leipzig. I finished 6th out of 30 competitors and received a medallion of excellence. However, before getting in the world’s top 10, I had to follow a specific and special path.

Jean-Philippe competes at WorldSkills 2013 in Leipzig, Germany
Jean-Philippe competes at a prior WorldSkills event in Leipzig, Germany

My journey began in 2008 when I was studying IT at the Centre de Formation Profesionelle (Professional Training Center) des Riverains in Repentigny, Québec. I was 16 years old and my love of and adventure with the telecommunications industry began. I had the opportunity to take Cisco Networking Academy courses, which gave me a chance to learn and fulfill my need for IT knowledge. It didn’t take too long to be spotted as a student who had potential, and one of my teachers told me about WorldSkills. I competed at the local, regional, provincial, and national level in IT Networking and at the age of 16, I placed 4th in Canada. That gave me an opportunity to work as an IT security and telecommunication technician at Québec’s provincial government.

I earned my CCENT certification at age 16 and my CCNA certification at age 17. I was able to continue with the Networking Academy when I entered Collège de Rosemont in Montréal. In 2012, I again competed in WorldSkills at the provincial and national level and I ended up representing Canada for the international WorldSkills 2013 competition in Leipzig. What an opportunity that was! I had a single chance to prove myself as one of the best in the world and to proudly represent my country.

Jean-Philippe competed in Skill #39 -- IT Network Systems Administration -- which is sponsored by Cisco.
Jean-Philippe competed in Skill #39 — IT Network Systems Administration — which is sponsored by Cisco.

I had to take a full year to prepare, and with the help of the Networking Academy, I got my CCNA Voice and my CCNA Security certifications. I had to be a master of Cisco (voice, security, routing and switching), Microsoft, VMware, and Linux, because the competition was covering all these aspects in four intense days. I had to master a lot of technologies, because at each competition day, I had a specific implementation case, which normally would take 16 to 24 hours to realize. I had to do each of them in 3 hours and 45 minutes without Internet access or notes. It was quite challenging, but it was an extraordinary experience that gave me the opportunity to go beyond what I thought I would have been able to realize.

Being involved in that kind of competition gave me the ability to share and network with people. It also gave me the opportunity and the chance to work at Cisco Montreal as the laboratory administrator. The skills I’ve learned through the WorldSkills journey helped me a lot in my position at Cisco. I’m proud to say I’m starting a new position today as a Cisco Meraki consulting systems engineer, and my Worldskills experience was considered in the selection process. Networking Academy, Cisco, and WorldSkills changed me and empowered my life.

As a past WorldSkills competitor, I’ve decided to give back to this organization by mentoring the competitor who represented Canada in Sao Paulo last month. I hope WorldSkills changed his life as it has changed mine.

Looking for a rewarding career in a connected world? Learn how Cisco Networking Academy can prepare you for success in IT: Visit netacad.com


Alexis Raymond

Senior Manager

Chief Sustainability Office