I had always believed that I would earn a CCIE certification one day if I put in the effort. I don’t say that lightly. The CCIE, or Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, is the most prestigious networking certification in IT. So when they say “nothing worth having comes easy,” they may as well have created that phrase for those on the CCIE certification path. As for me, I am not the exception. My IT journey began long before I started to prepare, and even then, it took years before I sat for the lab.
As an avid tennis fan, I’ve found kindred spirits within the sport’s most respected athletes. Tennis may be a simple game, but that does not mean that it will be easy — especially if you want to beat an opponent with exceptional skill. It’s hard work. But, if you want to be the best, whether in sports or your career, you will need to hone your skills, maintain your focus, follow your passion, and push yourself to train — especially on the days when you’d rather relax instead. (It happens. You aren’t alone!)
And if you want to become a certified expert in Cisco technologies, you’ll need to serve it, smash it, win it, and love it — just like the all-star athletes quoted below who share a similar love and tenacity for tennis.
My journey to two CCIE certifications
I was born and raised in a small town in India named Mayiladuthurai. I did well in high school, and one of the best universities in the country accepted me into their undergraduate program. Since networking and communications have always been my passion, even back then, I decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering.
“I always had the dream.” — Roger Federer
My dream was to work for Cisco — and that dream finally came true.
I’ve been at Cisco for over 15 years now, and to this day, I’m grateful for the opportunity to work for such a fantastic company that puts employees and their well-being first. Even more, our solutions have a profound impact on communities worldwide.
“It’s not the time to look for excuses.” — Rafael Nadal
Cisco was my second employer. I can still remember my first day in the Brunton Road office in Bengaluru, India. I was super excited to wear the Cisco badge for the first time and meet my fellow Cisconians.
In my first role as a software engineer, it was essential for me to learn Cisco networking technologies and platforms. That’s when I decided to start my Cisco certification journey. I wanted to be a better engineer and follow my passion for technology. From the start, I stayed positive. I knew that preparing for a Cisco certification exam would not be a simple task. As I set out on my certification path, I resolved to keep my goals realistic and attainable.
“I always try to adjust to the situation.” — Novak Djokovic
My career evolved, and I found myself in my second role at Cisco. My new position was within the industry-recognized Cisco Sales Associates Program (CSAP) in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. CSAP is a year-long graduate program for professionals early in their careers who possess strong interpersonal skills, are achievement-driven, and are passionate about technology and innovation. While in the program, I worked towards earning the CCNP, CCDA, and CCDP certifications. And since I was a systems engineer designing networks using Cisco solutions, training and certifying my skills with Cisco was critical. Every certification exam that I prepared for directly impacted the quality of my work.
“You just got to keep going and fighting for everything, and one day you’ll get to where you want.” — Naomi Osaka
I started my CCIE journey in 2009. After nearly three years of hard work and sacrifice, I did it! I earned my first CCIE certification in Security! I would work all day at my regular job and then come home to prepare for the CCIE Security lab exam. There were many days when I would sleep for only four hours. But, I knew the journey would be worth it in every way. So, when I received the email from Cisco notifying me that I had passed the CCIE lab, I felt an incredible sense of satisfaction.
“CCIE Practice Labs for Practical Exam Preparation” by Geoff Anderson [Read now]
“Victory is very, very sweet. It tastes better than any dessert you’ve ever had.” — Serena Williams
Nearly 18 months later, I achieved my CCIE Wireless certification. (CCIE Wireless is now the CCIE Enterprise Wireless certification.)
I have always believed that Cisco certifications help people excel in their careers because it symbolizes their passion, discipline, and dedication. In my prior role as a systems architect, becoming certified helped me earn instant credibility and rapport with customers. Now I’m a senior leader in systems engineering sales. I support our team through a consultative relationship with our customers, designing future state architectures and Cisco technical strategies.
Many people have asked me how I earned two CCIE certifications, and my answer is simple: Be resilient, follow the process, believe in yourself, and have a support system. I will always value Cisco certifications. And if you’re thinking about pursuing a CCIE, my advice is to aim high.
There are many resources available to help you accomplish your certification goals. Here is a short list to support your journey as you work towards an Expert-level Cisco certification:
- Streamline your study approach with the free Cisco Expert Prep program. Access on-demand resources, such as webinars led by Cisco experts focused by exam topic, participate in discussions, and access the support you need to certify with confidence.
- Prepare for your CCIE lab exam in a fully functional hands-on lab environment. Learn more about CCIE Practice Labs, available now in 4-hour rental sessions.
- Join the Cisco Learning Network (it’s free) and add CCIE Training Videos to your Learning Plan, participate in Communities with others on the Cisco certification journey, and more.
- Train with the official courses and e-learning available by certification technology track on the Cisco Learning Network Store. Shop now.
Thanks for reading! Which quote did you find the most impactful? Are you preparing for a Cisco certification? I’d love to hear about your learning goals and how it’s going. Leave me a comment below!
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Very nice blog Muthu!
Thank you Ankit, glad you liked it!
Muthu, you are an amazing individual! Your story of persistence and resilience is a testament to your character as a human being. I love your passion for excellence and your passion for tennis! I am honored each day to be your business partner!
“I always try to adjust to the situation.” — Novak Djokovic
Thank you John for the kind words, I really appreciate it. It is my honor to be your business partner and thank you for all your inputs/help! 🙂
Wonderful Blog Muthu. Recollecting the days from waterford office, you’ve been a champion always
Thank you Manmeet, Waterford office, NMTG, tabletennis are very good old memories 🙂 I am so glad we continued to stay connected all these years and for years to come! 🙂
Great inspiration! In January I passed my first Cisco exam for the new CCNA, also if in this moment I work as Datacenter technician and this is something different. As I’m passionate about technology, i’m wondering if l should I go for another Associate certification (CyberOps) or drive my efforts versus CCNP certification.
Great Bro, I have passed the CCNA EXAM.
Thank you Harvinder, congrats on passing CCNA, great achievement. I wish you all the best in your professional IT career.
Congrats Giuseppe on passing your CCNA and it is a great achievement and a great first step in your journey of Cisco certifications. Both options are good, please follow your passion! 🙂
Thank you very much for this write-up, it came at a time I had started doubting myself but your experience and words have proven to me it is do able.
I leave you with the mantra I saw on the internet some years ago ” CCIE is not rocket science it only takes concentration and resilience”.
Once again, you are greatly appreciated.
Thank you Akinfemi, glad you found this blog useful. Yes absolutely, I strongly believe with focus, resilience and hard work we can achieve anything in life. Good luck and soon you will have the CCIE number one day!!
Great Blog and thoughts Muthu, this will Inspire everyone pursuing CCIE… Keep Rocking as always
Thank you Nitin, I am so glad you liked the blog!
Great read Muthu! Glad to be a fellow CCIE with one of the best!
Likewise! Thank you Jarrod, glad you liked the blog!!!
Nice blog and wonderful sport analogy of hard work, persistence and perseverance. CCIE requires best of sportsmanship and character.
Thank you Mitch, I am glad you liked the analogy. I agree with sportsmanship and character, we can achieve greater heights!!!
Very inspiring, great blog Muthu. The experience of the journey is where the success is and you did it twice. Congratulations
Thank you Temi, glad you liked it. Yes, the process is more enjoyable and it will accompany us in our IT journey for many many years. Thank you for inspiring many leaders at Cisco including me!
Well done, Muthu! Love it!
Thank you Anthony, glad you liked it! 🙂
Thank you for sharing this story, Muthu! Incredibly inspiring! Congratulations on your success and achievements!
Thank you Sharon for the kind words, glad you liked it. I am also so thankful that many could relate to this journey! 🙂
I would like to start my Cisco Journey,
Very helpful article.
Please give me the path to earn the ccie certificate, where to start first.
Thank you Devara, glad you found it helpful. The Cisco Learning Network has various Certification Communities that you can join where people collaborate and help each other. There are also Cisco Press Official Cert Guides, Udemy videos, bootcamp provided by various training partners are something I would recommend.
This blog is very much motivating. Practical insights to clear the exam. Thank you Muthu.
Thank you Madhan, glad you found these insights motivating!!
Quite inspirational, I also see myself becoming a CCIE one day but I do not know how. I am currently CCNA certified and working towards certifying my CCNP.
Thanks for the encouragement.
Thank you Milton, glad you found this blog encouraging. Good luck in your CCNP certification!
Your story is awesome and inspiring. I enjoyed Naomi Osaka’s quote. I am currently preparing for CCNP Enterprise.
Thank you Gabriel. Naomi is a champion and yes her quote is so powerful. We should never give up and keep going. Good luck on the CCNP certification.
Congratulations on your achievement! Fantastic Article, Vasanth! Impressed with your determination and passion for being the best! Loved your storytelling style. Wishes to achieve greater heights in life.
My favorite quote is
“I always had the dream.” — Roger Federer
Thank you Girija akka for the kind words, glad you liked my blog and my storytelling style!
Really Great journey and best efforts that achieve these goals, these cisco blogs really help to focus and improve our skills to Soon able for CCIE certification labs, Always doing hard efforts to learn all these skills and achieve CCIE certification, #WeAreCisco #CiscoCX
Thank you Khushal, I am so glad you found it helpful on your focus on the CCIE journey. Good luck and soon you will have your CCIE number, keep going!!
An Inspiration and motivation to follow the Goals during the hard days of work, Family life
Thank you!! Glad you found it inspiring! Yes follow your goal and never give up is the secret!!! 🙂
Hello, I am planning to be a certified CCIE some day but sometimes I feel negative because I don’t have much support to prepare for the exam because I can’t afford it with my current job and married life, but still i’m trying to do my best and hopefully someday I’ll get it and I can say that it’s the most important goal of my entire life and work for CISCO as you are doing sir, your story really inspired me and helped me to focus my goal and stay positive again with high level of energy, thank you so much sir. Much much appreciated!
Thank you Aamir, wishing you good luck for everything in your job and life. Yes, please stay positive, focused and set yourself realistic goals and hold yourself accountable. I am sure you will attain your dreams one day!!!
Hi Aamir! We might be able to help with the support aspect of your CCIE journey. Head over to cisco.com/go/ciscoexpertprep to find on-demand learning videos, community discussions and more resources to help you while you prepare for your CCIE. Good luck!
I had CCIE EI exam in Dubai two attempts and both failed duo to there Lab issue and Lab devices are not compatible with the IOS switches operations made the my Lab the worst ever and it costed me to fail in the exam, I did appeal for my first attempt and thanks God it was accepted and cisco admitted there fault in the Lab exam and cisco compensated me with another exam which also I faced issue in the and this time with the PC work station it jammed and stopped working at the last 45 mints from my exam, unfortunately no any support and help was delivered properly and professionally to complete my exam and again it costed me to fail, the appeal didn’t accepted and it had been rejected for no obvious reason, CCIE to me now is the worst ever career Certification exam with worst Lab exam environment and support, in addition the huge amount of money spend to book exam, travel, transportation and stressful time.
This what I experienced in the Lab two times its really disappointing, my second appeal case still pending and cisco are not able to close the case and they still doing ping-pong to get ride of my case, and now they want to transfer the case to legal !!!
I wish through your platform and cisco blogs I can deliver this message to the Enginners in Cisco who can support and close my case in a way I am satisfied and glad with the outcomes after all this bad experience and Lab environment issues and bugs coming from cisco equipment presented in the Exam.
Exam track : Enterprise Infrastructure
Exam Lab location : UAE – DUBAI
Exam date : 19 October 2021 first attempt
Exam date : 16 February 2022 second attempt
Thank you Asos for your comments, I am sorry you did not have a good experience on your lab exams. I encourage you to work with our support team at http://cs.co/ciscocert-help.
I open the case both attempts, first attempt cisco admitted the fault and mistake and the compatibility issue between Cisco 9300 series switches and DNA platform, I simulate the Lab exam in home and check the compatibility between 9300 iOS and DNA I upgraded the iOS I face issue as switches were not coming to be reachable and in managed mode then I did downgrade once did it become reachable and managed, I escalate the case to cisco then they admitted the fault in there Lab,
In my second attempt again another issue I am facing is in PC work station it stopped working and jammed!
No any support and help delivered properly and professionally the proctor came late to check the issue, he moved me to another desk and start working again and no any extra time delivered and coz of this issue in Lab and proctor I failed again and costed me lots of time, money spend, my work agenda.
Now they to move the case to legal to take action as seems technical can’t do anything and even they are not telling me where is my mistake and fault.
As they say, Grit is that ‘extra something’ that separates the most successful people from the rest, and your grit & passion is so evident in all what you say, do and write! Keep inspiring us!
“ I always try to adjust to the situation.” — Novak Djokovic
Thank you Vinie for the kind words. Grit and passion will take one to much greater heights. And glad you liked Novak’s quote, as change is one thing that is constant and we got to learn to adopt to the situation present to us!!!
Such an inspiring story Muthu, CCIE Security & Wireless are my best choices. Congratulations on both your CCIE Achievements, Well done!!! – Paul Vincent Fajardo
Thank you Paul, I am so glad you found this blog inspiring!!
Thank you for sharing your inspirational story, Muthu! We appreciate your lived experience, positive outlook, and resilience. Keep shining!
Thank you Rachel for the kind words. I appreciate your care for everyone, empathy and your focus as an inclusive leader. Thank you for being you!!!
You are truly as extraordinary professional, dynamic leader and an incredible human, Muthu. Thank you for sharing your inspiring career journey. We are lucky to have you at Cisco.
Thank you so much Varsha for your support as always. It makes my job easy learning from other inspiring leaders like you here at Cisco! 🙂
He’ll Sir Congratulations both certificates and sir I’m Cisco CCNA, Networking students give me some advice for prepare my both certificates
Thank you!! I am really happy to hear that you have earned your CCNA and looking to go for your next certification. My advice would be to have a goal and keep working towards it. You will enjoy the journey and learn a lot during the process! 🙂
Excellent blog Muthu! Your experience caused me to reflect on my own journey to CCIE and brought back the joy of the “you passed” email. It’s inspiring to hear from quality leaders, like you, that certifications are critical and a worthy goal to strive for. Regardless of what one hears, they enhance our skills, make us more marketable, and increase relevance to our customers. This is my favorite – “You just got to keep going and fighting for everything, and one day you’ll get to where you want.” — Naomi Osaka.
Thank you Marc for your kind words!!! I am so glad you liked it, I agree with your comments 100%, very well said sir. Thank you for your support as always!!!
Great story!! Of course, Rafa Nadal provides the best quotes, always 😉
Thank you Javier, I am so glad you liked it. It was great working with you in the GES IFF team, loved our interactions!! Haha, I have a huge respect for Rafa!!! 🙂
Thank you for the note!!
Very nice blog and the journey 👍
Nice one Muthu
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