Our customers are the heart and soul of everything we do at Cisco and each one of them has an interesting story to tell! Our Q&A series allows us to shine a spotlight on some of our most passionate customer advocates as we learn more about their stories and backgrounds.
Cisco’s advocacy community, Cisco Insider Advocates, brings our customers together and provides a way for them to make powerful connections, expand their professional and personal networks, and learn from top experts in their field. One of our goals with our advocacy community is to deepen our relationships with our customers and today, we have one of the friendliest faces in the community joining us for a chat. I’m excited to welcome Jeremy Shupick from Wyoming Machinery Company.
Welcome, Jeremy! Let’s kick things off by talking about what you wanted to be when you were 16 years old?
Wow, what a great question! Well, when I was 16, I lived in Gillette, Wyoming. I was a gymnastics coach for my after-school job and playing with a Franklin Ace 1000 that my parents got from some friends, so I started young (for my generation), pounding on the keyboard. That hobby really got me interested in technology. I decided to take any class that could help me in the tech area which, at the time, there weren’t many classes. I found a tech school in Colorado called DIT (Denver Institute of Technology) where I could get an Associates in Computer Networking degree in 18 months. I also went for their scholarship and was the only one applying there, so I got it. It was only $1,000 but hey, anything helps! During college, we built our own PC and learned the basics of networking. The school changed its name to Westwood College of Technology while I was enrolled, but has since shut down. But back then, I wanted to be a Network Administrator and as you can see from my title, here I am!
Woah, what a journey from your first after-school job as a gymnastics coach! Where did you start your career in IT? And, what professional decision or opportunity helped lead you to your current role?
Well, while going to college I grabbed any job I could get my hands on, even if the title didn’t have IT in it. Since I had IT knowledge, though, I offered to support anywhere I could, and I think that really helped me as I started getting experience on many different systems. I made a big decision while living in Colorado. At the time, my wife and I had a two-year-old and another on the way. My mother-in-law told me about a Network Administrator Assistant position at Wyoming Machinery Company in Casper, Wyoming, where she worked at the time. I was like, well, we do want to live closer to family for the kids, so why not!?
As you can probably guess, they offered me the job and I accepted. My thought at the time was, insurance kicks in on November 1 and my son was due on November 9! I was taking a $10,000 a year pay cut, but as it turns out, Wyoming doesn’t have a state income tax and they offered me better insurance, so my take home pay was actually more. So, everything worked out and later down the line when my boss retired, I was able to apply and move up to Network Administrator. So here I am 18 years later, and even though it’s challenging at times, I do love my job. Also, over the past 18 years, my wife and I have been flipping houses. We are currently on house number 11, and I told my wife: This is it, we’re not moving again! I almost wonder if I should be in the IT or the house renovation business!
That’s a super beautiful and personal way to transition into networking. Also, I feel like you are equally a renovation expert and a networking expert at this point! How has partnering with Cisco helped you in your role?
Over the years, I have used more and more Cisco equipment and software. Coming to Wyoming Machinery Company, they were an Avaya shop for phones at the time. They also used 3Comm switches and Cisco routers. After I started, they decided to go with Cisco for the phone system, and from then on the phones were put on my plate to manage, along with routers, switches and servers. I felt like a one-man band! We do have a team here, but a lot of us have our own specialties and it takes time to cross-train. I don’t feel like I have enough time! Cisco has been there when I needed them.
What’s been your biggest challenge in your company recently, and how did you overcome it?
I wouldn’t say I have really overcome any challenges, as it seems it’s on-going or the focus sometimes shifts. As soon as you fix one thing, another breaks or needs an upgrade. One challenge I would say would be nice to overcome is when a salesperson is selling you something with a nice demo and they give you the price. I’d like to see that price include full setup to make it work like the demo!
The demo scenario does sound like it would be frustrating! Let’s move on to our customer advocacy community. How would you describe it to those aren’t familiar with it?
It’s an exclusive place where you feel inclusive! A place where there is no dumb question, and you are encouraged to show off your work!
That’s exactly the community environment we’re trying to foster. You’re one of our community “Rockstars.” What made you want to join, and how has being part of this community impacted you both professionally and personally?
I joined, I think, back in 2019 when it was The Cisco Gateway Americas. I am not sure what year the community started, but I am always down for anything that is gamified, so I was like, why not!? I can learn and get free stuff! Heck, it is a WIN-WIN! Also, when you can read other people’s stories about how they overcame certain challenges, it helps you think about how you can try to overcome yours. It gives you a different perspective on the topic.
Let’s move on to this year’s Cisco Live. You were one of our “Road to Cisco Live Winners” which meant you were at Cisco Live U.S. in Las Vegas! We would love to know more about your experience as one of the winners. On a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest), how would you describe your overall experience this year? How did it compare to previous Cisco Live conferences?
I would have to say a 10! Oh, on a scale to 5 … I would still give it a 10!
I had already booked everything for 2022, so they let me shift my travel, hotel, and registration to 2023, which is nice. This year, finally being back in person, was a better experience than the virtual events over the last two years. You are just in a different mindset when you’re in person. I find you can focus more. When you’re out of the office, it is easier to ignore the little fires back at the office that can wait.
Plus, the hospitality that the Cisco Advocacy team showed me made me feel like a celebrity! The breakfast meetup for the advocate Rockstars was a nice way to break the ice and get to meet everyone. The cocktail meetup was great, too. It was nice that the winners from other regions were able to come to the U.S., as I got to meet people from across the globe. Also, when you’re part of an exclusive group, you get the backstage pass to the booth where they have the best refreshments!
What a score, we are flattered! You also had a chance to meet for the first time/reconnect with some of your peers from the community and members of the advocacy team. How did you find reconnecting with everyone at Cisco Live this year?
It was great to finally meet everyone who I have been corresponding with virtually over the past few years. Although some faces have changed on the advocacy team, I feel the friendliness has not!
Thanks Jeremy! We’re delighted to hear that the friendly and welcoming environment we work so hard to create is still felt in person. We’re almost at the end of the interview and we’d love to finish with three things you can’t live without?
- Cisco Insider Advocates! Of course!
Nice picks, Jeremy! It’s been a pleasure, thank you again for joining us.
You are welcome, Rashik!
Read more advocate interviews
You might enjoy this interview with Joacim Wicander.
For our customers who have already joined our Cisco Insider Advocates community, say hello to Jeremy if you haven’t met each other yet. And for those Cisco customers who haven’t yet joined, consider doing so. You’ll be able to:
- Connect with peers in a gamified, online community
- Have an opportunity to meet with Cisco’s executives
- Share your feedback, questions, and best practices
- Get access to ‘insider’ content and resources
- Grow your professional and personal brand
- Amplify your company’s success story with Cisco technology
Ready to get started?
Head over to the Cisco Insider Advocates Community and say hello!
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