Cisco hosted our first Global Advocate Awards on November 4, 2021, where we celebrated excellence in advocacy and innovation across ten categories. The program recognizes Cisco advocates who have gone above and beyond to share their expertise and technology best practices, including top-performing advocates from our Global Gateway customer community and our Marketing Velocity Voice partner community.

Jay Baer hosted the event, and we now know why Jay is regarded as “The World’s Most Inspirational Customer Experience and Marketing Expert.” Jay underscored why advocacy is more relevant than ever today, and how customers and partners can use it as a differentiator to build their personal brands and take their professional profiles to new heights.

We received more than 165 nominations for ten award categories from customers and partners across the world. I had the privilege of serving on the judging panel, which was a mix of internal Cisco leaders and external industry experts across relevant technology, marketing, and advocacy sectors. Choosing our winners was not easy. In fact, everyone who submitted either for themselves or on behalf of a colleague, is a winner in our eyes.

Let’s find out who the award winners are for the Cisco Global Advocate Awards 2021:

Customer Advocate of the Year

Our first award, for the category Customer Advocate of the Year, went to Merin CS with Cicadosoft Technologies! This category recognizes customers in The Gateway advocacy community who support other Cisco customers through mentorship, active participation in discussion threads, and best practices sharing. What stood out to our judging panel is that Merin’s peers nominated him, sharing compelling examples of how Merin has mentored them in their careers. Learn more about Merin, where he was a featured guest in a Gateway blog.

Competition was strong for this category. We want to recognize and thank all the customer advocates who advanced to our shortlist:

  • Jyrki Halonen with TietoEVRY
  • Christoph Neulinger with Generali
  • Tim Roberts with Miller Environmental
  • Jeremy Shupick with Wyoming Machinery Company

Partner Advocate of the Year

The Partner Advocate of the Year award celebrates contributions from Cisco’s partners in the Marketing Velocity Voice community. Congratulations to winner, Dave Hughes with Ideal! Dave was an early adopter in the Voice community, where he was recognized as the community’s Partner of the Month in April 2021. Learn more about Dave, a featured guest on the “Voicecast” podcast.

Congratulations go out to our shortlisted partner nominees for their enthusiasm and support for our Voice community:

  • Joanne Thomas with Forfusion
  • Pantaree Khongkan with Net Bright
  • Soontaree Dejboonn with Netone Network Solution Co. Ltd.
  • Lauren Arthur with Ping Network Solutions

Future of Work Visionary

Congratulations to Amit Gumber with HCL Technologies Ltd, who was named our Future of Work Visionary! This category evaluated nominees on their journeys to transform their workplaces from onsite to remote or hybrid environments. Nominees were asked to provide quantitative business results, and Amit shared how his company used Cisco Security solutions to secure network access through dual factor authentication, and Cisco Webex solutions to enable full remote worker collaboration.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

  • Tim Roberts with Miller Environmental
  • Zakarieya Abderoef with Baraka Technology Group

Digital Transformation Pioneer

Zakarieya Abderoef with Baraka Technology Group earned the distinct title of Digital Transformation Pioneer! This category focused on deployed solutions from Cisco’s Networking, Cloud, and Data Center portfolios. Our judges were impressed by Zakarieya’s number of Cisco technical certifications, and his active participation in completing product reviews, a highly valued advocacy activity.

Huge congratulations to our shortlisted nominees in this category:

  • Christoph Neulinger with Generali
  • Daniel Hosking with NEC Australia
  • Inderdeep Singh with KPMG LLP
  • Amit Gumber with HCL Technologies Ltd.

Cybersecurity Defender of the Year

Our next award, Cybersecurity Defender of the Year, had the highest number of shortlisted nominees and competition was strong to select the customer advocate who deployed the best strategies and tactics in cyberdefense. Congratulations to Wouter Hindriks with Avit Group! As one of the earliest adopters of The Gateway program, Wouter was nominated by his peers and is one of the community’s most engaged advocates in security-related discussions. Wouter recently recorded a video where he shared his knowledge of Cisco’s Security portfolio to help customers in The Gateway community better understand these products’ capabilities.

Congratulations to all shortlisted nominees in this highly competitive category:

  • Blair Anderson with Shawnee Heights Unified School District 450
  • Enric Cuixeres with Lend d’Or
  • Roberto Alunda with Mediapro
  • Joel Marquez with Tamimi Markets
  • Bahruz Ibrahimov with AzEduNet
  • Ryan Deppe with Cianbro Corporation

Everyday Hero of the Year

Our Everyday Hero of the Year award applied to organizations in the public sector industries of education, healthcare, or government. We celebrate Peter McKenzie with Chisholm Institute, who was named our Everyday Hero! Peter’s role with Chisolm Institute and the Cisco Networking Academy helps transform the lives of learners, educators, and communities through technology, education, and career opportunities.


Partner Advocate Contributor of the Year

Our next award went to another Cisco partner whose active engagement in the Marketing Velocity Voice community earned her recognition as Partner Advocate Contributor of the Year. Congratulations to Wendy Romero with Intelligent Networks For Critical Business! Wendy has been recognized as Partner of the Month twice in the Voice community, and is in the Top Ten leaderboard based on her engagement and advocacy activities.

Congratulations to our shortlisted nominees:

  • Agata Walker with Nowcomm
  • Jorge Alanis with Evox
  • Kimberly Moss with Natilik
  • Ashley Woodcroft with Kytec

Industry Excellence

Our Industry Excellence award applied to organizations in the public sector, or in the private sector industries of manufacturing, retail, or financial services. This category was particularly interested in demonstration of business continuity success and return to work strategies and implementation. Congratulations to Don Cheney with Washington Trust Bank! Don’s story is featured on Cisco.com, and the video was shared in a virtual event for Cisco’s sales organization, in addition to a Cisco Investor Day event.

Congratulations to all shortlisted nominees in this category:

  • Klemens Fliri with Hirschmann Automotive
  • Patrick Misciagna with Woolworth’s Australia
  • David de Groote with République et Canton du Jura
  • Oscar Rico with Canutillo Independent School District

Excellence in Storytelling

Joint winners—Andrea West with Taleka, and Peter Papaioannou with Citrus Solutions—share top honors in our award for Excellence in Storytelling. Cisco partners Taleka and Citrus Solutions worked with Cisco to develop the innovative “HowRU” solution that benefits the customer, Wollongong Hospital. Learn more about this inspiring collaboration.

Congratulations to all our shortlisted nominees:

  • Merin CS with Cicadosoft Technologies
  • Eldar Gizzatov with Basking
  • JanJaap Boogaard with Colliers International
  • Sam Amirfar with The Brooklyn Hospital Center
  • Somsak Chonpathomphikullert with MFEC Public Co., Ltd.

CX Ambassador of the Year

Our final award went to John Pell with ServiceNow, for the category CX Ambassador of the Year! The Gateway has an exclusive channel for Cisco’s Customer Experience (CX) services and offerings. Along with being a highly engaged advocate in this channel, John’s company worked with the CX organization to upgrade its Contact Center platform.

Congratulations also go out to our shortlisted nominees:

  • Gabriele Piccini with Savino Del Bene
  • Patrick Misciagna with Woolworth’s Australia
  • Wayne Bonett with Westpac Banking Corp
  • Mark Vendl with Sidley Austin LLC


Congratulations to our winners, and to all of our shortlisted nominees!  We applaud each of you for your passion, innovation, and support for Cisco’s advocacy initiatives.

Did you miss our Global Advocate Awards 2021 celebration?
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Emma Roffey

Vice President

EMEAR Marketing & Global Advocacy