One of the enduring traditions of Cisco Live is our Cisco Designated VIP Dinner, an opportunity to bring together some of the pillars of our community to eat, mingle, and enjoy each other’s company. After such a long time apart, this dinner also serves an important role in recognizing the resilience of the communities we’ve supported together, the stewardship that continues to help us get through this moment, and the hard work that it takes to lead during tough times.

The importance of these individuals to the Cisco Learning Network community is immense. The importance of these individuals over the course of the pandemic is immeasurable.

We came together again after two years of remote everything. This year’s Cisco Live in Las Vegas was our first opportunity (the first in a long time) to bring people together and express, in a proper celebration after so much time, our gratitude to our VIPs for all they do — for each other, for Cisco, the Cisco Learning Network, and most importantly, for our communities.

In order to further recognize these people and their contributions, please take a moment to explore the VIPs in their own words.

We are so thankful for everyone who could make the journey to be with us this year, including David Peñaloza, Micheline Murphy, Yasser Auda, Aref Alsouqi, and Daniel Kuhl. And of course, we look forward to having even more of our VIPs join us at the next Cisco Live.

An overview of the Cisco Designated VIP program

You’re probably asking yourself what the Cisco Designated VIP program is, how you can become a VIP on the Cisco Learning Network, and whether the VIP dinner you could hypothetically attend in the future is really worth it. The top-level explanation is that the Cisco Designated VIP Program recognizes the top contributors among the Cisco Learning Network’s online communities.

“I would not be where I am today if I did not have the support of the Cisco Learning Network community.
The Cisco Learning Network is the giant upon whose shoulders I stand. That said, I have a responsibility
to the community to pay forward what has been given to me so generously. Today, I mentor younger
engineers and work with Cisco to continue sharing a passion for networking technologies.”
— Micheline Murphy, Cisco VIP

VIPs are constant posters recognized both for their ubiquity and expertise. In fact, if you’ve spent any time in our online communities, you’ve probably run across multiple answers and conversations facilitated by our VIPs. Next time you visit the Cisco Learning Network, look for the ‘Designated Cisco VIP’ tag on a post. That’s a clear indication that the response is coming from one of our most trusted community members.

How to become a Cisco Designated VIP

So, is answering questions and starting online discussions all you have to do to become a Designated VIP? No, there’s a bit more to it than that. All of our VIPs are Cisco certified at the Professional level (or higher!) and reviewed annually for VIP eligibility. Reviews include how frequently they post on the Cisco Learning Network, as well as their maturity, professionalism, and the ability to foster a safe learning environment.

If it sounds like a big responsibility, that’s because it is. But it’s not all just work, our VIPs get some pretty cool perks, too.

The perks of being a Cisco Designated VIP

From all-access tickets to Cisco Live (and our dinner, don’t forget that!) to exam vouchers and invitations to exclusive events, the Cisco Designated VIP program recognizes the hard work of the pillars of our community. In addition to those very tangible perks, we also recognize their contributions in a potentially more meaningful way by including their leadership in the creation of new study materials for the Cisco Learning Network, blogs, whitepapers, and more. Their fingerprints are all over the ways that our communities learn.

“Being a Cisco Designated VIP makes me feeling that I have a big responsibility of trying to provide
the community members with all the support they need, whether to pass an exam, or to meet some
work requirements. This gives me huge motivations to keep learning and to trying to improvemy technical
knowledge to meet the Cisco Learning Network’s standards and its community members’ expectations.”
— Aref Alsouqi

And what if you’re not ready to become a VIP? Well, we’ve got other ways that you can participate and work your way up.

The Community Ambassador Program allows you to start building your reputation with the Cisco Learning Network community. Like the Designated VIP program, you’ll be interacting online with others, answering questions, creating topics, and generally being excellent to each other while still earning some great perks.

The Cisco Learning Network also offers Community Spotlight Awards to recognize individuals who give back to the community. These quarterly awards come in three categories: The Technical Excellence Award, The Member’s Choice Award, and The Rookie Award.

Each award adorns your Cisco Learning Network profile with a shiny badge to show off your achievement. We’re always finding new ways to show our appreciation for our learning communities and the people who make them great.

It’s not a CommUnity Without U 

And that’s a fact. From our newbies all the way up to our Cisco Designated VIPs, our communities wouldn’t exist without the incredible people who show up and support each other’s learning and career journeys. If you’re already one of our community members, please know how happy and grateful we are to share this experience with you. If you’re new, welcome! We are all so excited to make a place for you at our table.

“When I decided many years ago to take my technical knowledge and career to the next level,
I was looking for some good resources that would have helped me during my study and working journey.
I used many resources from books, private training, videos, online communities and so on.
Among the best was,and still is, the Cisco Learning Network community. The support and help
I received from Cisco Learning Community through its highly skilled members was one of the keys
to get me to where I am today, and without that, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
— Aref Alsouqi

Ready to engage with the Cisco Learning Network community? Start your journey by joining the Cisco Learning Network and finding your community. I’m happy to answer any questions you have, so don’t hesitate! Leave me a comment below. I can’t wait to hear from you!



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Matt Saunders

Community Manager

Learning and Certifications