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 Rik Aragoza from Kinly.
Welcome, Rik! Let’s kick things off by talking about what you wanted to be when you were 16 years old?
Like most teenagers, I wanted to spend my time on leisurely activities, things like playing my guitar or online gaming. Interestingly, my experience with online gaming is what sparked me to lean towards a career in IT and pursue a degree in Information Technology from Saint Louis University.
I feel like online gaming is a great initial gateway into IT, for sure! Where did you start your career, and what professional decision or opportunity helped lead you to your current role?
I started my career in IT Administration with my first company, Datacom Connect, which led to a fruitful five-year career. Together with my awesome team (DSC – Myke, James, Paolo, Laurence, Francis and Mark), we handled every facet of IT, from end-to-end deployments of new Line of Businesses to post Operations Support. Due to several circumstances, I decided to venture overseas to my current role as a specialist in Unified Communications for Kinly (which was then named Visions Connected). I want to thank Marco Faassen and Jeroen Beek for providing me with this opportunity! I’ve learned a lot of real-world IT fundamentals, professional skills, and adjusting to different cultural expectations in work ethic, all of which has helped me to this day!
That’s an incredible journey you’ve been on Rik, and I can appreciate how much your company leaders and team have helped you in your career. How has partnering with Cisco helped you in your role?
Cisco has been instrumental in my professional growth. I was able to attain working knowledge of Cisco products and hardware through self-paced trainings and official certifications, like the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification during the early days of my career. This has opened a lot of doors for me. I’m now focused on Unified Communications, as Kinly is a video conferencing service provider. Cisco has been our mainstay in the collaboration platform that we offer to our customers, alongside other industry-leading vendors in the video conferencing field.
What’s been your biggest challenge in your company recently, and how did you overcome it?
As with most companies, the impacts of COVID-19 had completely shaken the industry, and it is still felt today. Cisco’s Unified Communications solutions (Cisco Collaboration Suite, and Webex more recently) have immensely helped us overcome the restrictions of the traditional working model brought about by this situation, as well as extend this solution to our customers via the services that we provide.
You touched on some key collaboration challenges that I think a lot of businesses are still struggling to overcome, since the start of the pandemic. Let’s move on to our customer advocacy community. How would you describe it to those aren’t familiar with it?
To put it simply, Cisco Insider Advocates is an online community where likeminded Cisco customers in the IT field can gather to obtain and share resources. The community offers a ton of benefits, both physical and digital in nature, in the form of networking opportunities and valuable technological nuggets through articles and news. The community really is a one-stop-shop for your daily Cisco needs!
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 to get “Insider” information (pun intended)! Being part of this community has been an amazing journey for me, starting from a beginner member who was initially just casually dropping in online to The Global Gateway (now referred to as Cisco Insider Advocates). The community is how I keep up to date with the latest news from Cisco. I was also able to stop by the Cisco Insider Advocacy booth at the recent Cisco Live EMEA 2023 event in Amsterdam.
You were one of our “Road To Cisco Live” winners—congratulations! We would love to know more about your experience at Cisco Live this past February. And, what would you say to those who are on the fence about going to Cisco Live, based on your experience this year?
It was an amazing experience, as I got to meet people in the community in real life! Being in an environment which has tremendous amounts of technical and fun sessions is a “must have” in the IT field. For those who are missing out, I encourage you to attend a Cisco Live conference—and better yet, join the Cisco Insider Advocates community!
Cisco Live conferences around the world always offer a lot of fun booth activities, sessions, and experiences. Which were your favorite activities from Cisco Live 2023 in Amsterdam, and why?
I most enjoyed the technical sessions that were aligned with my current role in Unified Communications. The sessions presented an immense amount of valuable knowledge, from introductory topics to technical deep dives, as well as product roadmaps which helped me be ready for what is coming next with Webex and its powerful interoperability. Meeting Cisco’s Global Advocacy Team is of course also one of my favorite experiences! Hopefully, I will again be able to spend more time with the team at the next Cisco Live conference.
We’re glad we got a chance to spend more time with you, as well, Rik! You also had a chance to meet for the first time/reconnect with some of your peers from the community and members of Cisco’s Global Advocacy team! How did you enjoy that reconnection?
After a few years in the community and only seeing thumbnails of member profile pictures, it was nice to finally meet and talk to my peers in person, as well as meet the Cisco team who manages the Cisco Insider Advocates community!
We’re almost at the end of the interview and we’d love to finish with three things you can’t live without?
It’s been a pleasure to chat with you Rik, thank you again for joining us!
You are welcome, Rashik!
Read more advocate interviews
You might enjoy this interview with Girgis Hady.
For our customers who have already joined our Cisco Insider Advocates community, say hello to Rik 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)