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 Jyrki Halonen from Netox.

Welcome, Jyrki! Let’s kick things off by talking about what you wanted to be when you were 16 years old?

Thank you, Rashik! At the age of 16, I would have just started high school and while I loved mathematics—a key skill to master in any IT profession—I was thinking about a career in the field of astronomy. Although astronomy is something that still interests me today, I never pursued that interest further as a career path.

That’s great that you kept up with your passion for astronomy! Hopefully one day you can combine that interest somehow with your current career. Speaking of careers, where did you start yours and what professional decision or opportunity helped lead you to your current role?

After ten years in the Navy, I began working for a managed service provider. In this role, I had the chance to get more hands-on experience with Cisco devices, because Cisco was the main provider for the data centre network. When we renewed our data centre network with Cisco this was a huge step forward in my networking experience. On top of technical learning, I learned a lot about project management.

What’s been your biggest challenge in your company recently, and how did you overcome it?

This is a tricky question for me since I changed to a new company a few months ago, so I can’t yet give deep analysis on this from that perspective. But if I think back to my previous role as a lead service architect of data centre networks at Tietoevry and compare it to what I have seen so far in this role, the big challenge seems to be documentation and information sharing. I always try to document everything to ensure processes and knowledge is accessible to all, and I like to share that information with my colleagues.

Strong documentation is so important, and I can see how so much of it can get lost as people leave roles. That’s great that you are being proactive with documenting everything. Let’s move on to our customer advocacy community. How would you describe it to those who aren’t familiar with it?

The Cisco Insider Advocates community is a fun way to keep yourself updated on what is happening in the industry and what kinds of solutions other Cisco customers are using. One key aspect of this community that I find valuable is that the information one finds is not only from Cisco, but from other customers.

Knowledge and information sharing is a key component of the Cisco Insider Advocates community, so I’m glad you find that beneficial, Jyrki. 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 The Cisco Gateway (now called Cisco Insider Advocates) at Cisco Live Berlin in 2017. I thought at that time that it was primarily centered around fun games with cool prizes, but I found out quickly that it is much more than that. I have learned a lot about Cisco solutions, and have met many community peers. The community virtual meet-ups and roundtables that I have joined have been so much fun, and it’s been a great way to connect with the Cisco Insider Advocates community!

You were one of our “Road To Cisco Live Winners”—congratulations! We would love to know more about your experience at Cisco Live in Amsterdam this past February. If you could describe your experience in one word, what would it be? How did it compare to previous Cisco Live conferences you’ve attended?

Describing the experience with one word, I would have to go with “excited.” I had a really busy week in Amsterdam at the conference, and this time I chose to attend fewer break-out sessions. This allowed me to  focus on other things, including taking advantage of learning labs and the DevNet zone, along with meetings and discussions.

I’m glad to hear you switched up your routine and that it helped contribute to the excitement you felt at this year’s Cisco Live. During the conference, you spoke at one of our customer session panels. How was your experience, and what did you discuss?

The panel session was about the customer experience and how advocacy has helped with the challenges we face in our daily business. Participating on the panel session was very exciting, since public speaking is not something I do often. I was very happy with the experience, and getting out of my comfort zone was a lot of fun!

We were honoured to have you speak, Jyrki! You also had a chance to meet for the first time or reconnect with peers from the Cisco Insider Advocates community, as well as some of my colleagues from Cisco’s Global Advocacy team! How did you enjoy that reconnection?

Meeting the Global Advocacy team and community members, some of them for the first time and others again after time had passed, was absolutely the best part of my Cisco Live experience. We had a chance to spend time not only at the event site, but we also had a few beers in the evening. I’m still smiling while thinking about this, and I can’t wait to meet them all again!

We can’t wait to host you again, Jyrki! We’re almost at the end of the interview and we’d love to finish with three things you can’t live without?

  1. My loved ones
  2. Traveling
  3. Good food

Great list! It’s been a pleasure and thank you again for joining us!

You are welcome, Rashik!

Read more advocate interviews

You might enjoy this interview with Tobi Baader.  

Join us!

For our customers who have already joined our Cisco Insider Advocates community, say hello to Jyrki 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!

(Requires registration / login)


Connect with us on social

Follow Cisco Advocacy on social for the latest Cisco customer stories and more!

Twitter  |  Instagram  |  LinkedIn  |  YouTube


Rashik Rahman

Global Advocacy Specialist

Global Advocacy - UK