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 in The Global Gateway community as we learn more about their stories and backgrounds.
You may be wondering: What is The Global Gateway? It’s a community for Cisco customers where they can build 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 Global Gateway joining us for a chat. I’m excited to welcome Merin CS from Cicadosoft.
Welcome, Merin! Let’s kick things off by talking about what you wanted to be when you were 16 years old?
From 5th Standard onwards I had a computer at my home, which back then was a big deal. By the age of 15, I was really interested in computers and I would always play and tinker with them whenever I got the chance. I didn’t have a clear idea or profession in my mind, but I always knew I was going to work with computers.
Where did you start your career? And, what professional decision or opportunity helped lead you to your current role?
I was 17 years old when I first came to know about Cisco and CCNA. I was really fascinated by how the internet operated and how Cisco routers played a pivotal role in that. I wanted to take this curiosity further and learn more, however the CCNA exams were too expensive at the time. So, I had to hold that goal off for another four years.
When I was 22, I took my CCNA exams and I really loved it! Soon after, I started CCNP and that’s when the institution where I received my CCNA qualifications invited me to teach CCNA to students, and for me that was the first leap.
Later, I joined another company and completed my CCNP training and started helping students with their CCNP exams. This was about the time I was awarded Cisco’s CCNA CyberOps scholarship. I quit my job to focus on my studies, got certified, and rejoined Cicadosoft (I was previously employed with them before the break). After a rough COVID lockdown, I wanted to cross over to a more security-focused role, and to my luck I found a job at Barracuda Networks at the right time.
So, you were working for Cicadosoft. How has partnering with Cisco helped your work both in your segment and industry for those companies?
Cicadosoft is primarily focusing on local clients in my country and their business runs mostly on physical operations. We operated physically through Cisco Labs with Cisco routers and switches, which helped us gain more clients than our competitors.
So as you can imagine, when the pandemic hit it was such a blow to us, largely because we were not prepared for it and because of our strong reliance on physical presence. During the lockdown period, we were on the brink of shutting the business for a while, and that’s when Cisco offered us a trial of Webex. At the time, my manager told me to find a collaborative solution to support working from home for Cicadosoft. This solution had to be easy to use, secure, and have annotation, screen sharing, and recording functionality. After a lot of trial-and-error, Webex emerged as the right solution for us. With Webex, we started taking classes and such, started our business online, and now we have even expanded to clients globally.
What’s been your biggest challenge in your company this year, and how did you overcome it?
The pandemic, particularly in terms of moving our business online and the planning/growing of the business. I think the team is doing many online promotions at the moment to help with the transition.
Let’s move on to The Global Gateway! How would you describe this customer advocacy community to those who haven’t heard of it before?
It’s really an awesome platform! The community is designed for Cisco customers. If you are one of Cisco’s customers, you don’t want to miss out on this. As advocates, we have access to a variety of content including firsthand information on newly released Cisco products and services, beta testing, and more.
We can engage with other advocates through gamified activities where we can earn points while learning, watching, and listening to challenges. It feels less like a task and more like a game! In return, these points can be redeemed for physical and non-physical rewards.
It’s not all about Cisco and their products, they also have a variety of fun challenges and competitions. I find The Gateway to be the best place to meet like-minded peers in my field and, most importantly, we can get an honest review of Cisco products from other customers.
You’re one of our community “Rockstars” and we really appreciate how active you are! What made you want to join The Global Gateway, and how has being part of this community impacted you both professionally and personally?
It all started when I got an email invite to The Gateway and back then I didn’t know what it really was. At first, I just logged in and did some challenges and didn’t give it much attention, that was, until I understood the platform. Soon after, “The Gateway Rockstar Tier” caught my eye and I set a goal to reach it. Throughout that journey, I participated in several Gateway contests including “Advocate of The Month” which I won! I am also currently working towards my CCNA certification, all thanks to The Gateway!
Through The Gateway, I was able to meet so many wonderful people, including Mr. Roy who was the SMB manager for Cisco APJC at the time. Also, the Wellness channel challenges made me rethink my current lifestyle and helped me pay more attention to my health. For example, I started jogging!
All in all, I can say The Gateway has tremendously helped to shape my personal and professional life.
We’re almost at the end of the interview, Merin, and we’d love to finish with three things you can’t live without?
- The internet.
- I am a foodie, so I always explore places and try to learn about a culture, most importantly their FOOD. I love spicy non-veg food of all sorts. One thing I missed most during lockdown was heading out and having the food I like.
- Friends and family. I would describe myself as a people person and have made a lot of friends, which I’m proud about. So, I like spending time with my friends and family.
Thank you again for joining us, Merin! If you’re a fellow foodie, definitely say hi to Merin in The Gateway!
You are welcome!
Read more customer advocate interviews
You might enjoy this interview with our Global Gateway customer advocate, Daniel.
Join us in The Global Gateway
For our customers who have already joined us in The Global Gateway, say hello to Merin if you haven’t met each other yet. And for those Cisco customers who havent yet joined The Global Gateway, 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 Global Gateway and say hello!