If you didn’t make it to Cisco Live Europe in Amsterdam this year, you might be surprised to see my name attached to a different team. For the past three years, I’ve been almost singularly focused on informing anyone willing to listen about the power of programmability, APIs, and Infrastructure as Code (IaC) as part of the Cisco Developer Relations team. Over those years, I learned a lot about the power of community—how we can all come together to help each other achieve more than we could on our own and how impactful, relevant, and timely learning opportunities are to growth and advancement.
I was also able to see the struggle of community members as they just tried to keep up with the pace of technology and specializations, let alone consume the infrastructure they were tasked with managing in a programmable or codified way. So, as someone with the ability and flexibility to help, I decided to embody the change I wanted to see.
I moved over to the Cisco Learning and Certifications team as a senior technical advocate. In this role, I can still interact with you, our incredibly diverse community of learners and technical experts. Still, I’ll be able to support your journey through a much broader scope of technologies, platforms, and modalities. To say I’m excited is an understatement.
Maybe I should re-introduce myself
While I know some crossover exists between communities, I’m sure some folks aren’t familiar with me or my history.
I’ve been associated with Cisco Networking since 2002 when I attended the Cisco Networking Academy in high school. Through my education in that program, I worked as a Cisco Gold Partner, focusing on engineering (and later architecture and design) of service provider, utility, and large data center networks.
After that, I was a pre-sales systems engineer at Cisco, covering similar utility and financial services networks. Then I completely shifted to programmability, joining Cisco DevNet as a developer advocate focused on data center networking technologies.
Fast forward to today: I’m a Cisco Press author of the Cisco DEVCOR Official Certification Guide and a Cisco Live Distinguished Speaker. (You can catch some of my recorded sessions here and here.) When I’m not working, you can find me behind a grill, a camera lens, or the handlebars of my road bike in the beautiful suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, where I reside with my wife (of ten years this September), two kids, and two little “floofy” dogs.
Technical advocacy as your certification porter
I’d like to expand a bit on this well-written blog from Kareem that discusses the Cisco Learning and Certifications Technical Advocacy team and its function. It reminds me of a systems engineering friend’s analogy about individuals who help you throughout life. These influential people can be divided into three categories: mentors, shepherds, and porters. Each has a different purpose in your personal growth and advancement.
Mentors are there to provide guidance and insight over the long term. The mentor/mentee relationship is often formal, focused on the mentee’s long-tail development, and sometimes lasts years—or even decades. The mentor isn’t there to tell an individual what to do but simply to provide feedback and insight from their own experiences and perspective.
Shepherds are almost the opposite of mentors; their sole job is to protect the flock. We can see these traits in our teachers and educators, as they provide prescriptive guidance and steps to develop a given skill. These relationships are generally shorter, with a limited ability to customize the learning and guidance because they are only there for a particular type of education at a specific time.
Each of these groups is vital in our learning and development. However, sometimes we need short-term assistance from someone who can provide insight from their own journey without the strict confines of prescriptive education. This is where porters come into play.
Porters engage with us to ensure we can grow and learn in our own ways, assisting as needed and teaching from practical knowledge and experience. These porters help us carry the load and lighten the burden until we reach our next destination, at which point they return to help others. We encounter porters throughout our lifetimes. And each helps with a small part of our development until we can move forward independently.
I see technical advocates as Cisco technology porters within a holistic learning and certification experience. We are skilled practitioners with hands-on knowledge of the platforms, technologies, and tools you are asked to know. We can also break down these concepts into methods that allow you to learn in your own way, in a modality that suits your style. We’re not a one-size-fits-all team; we pride ourselves on finding every way possible to make your journey easier. I’ve seen the power of community firsthand, and I’m excited to see how much our team can help the community achieve its goals and more.
Tech Advocates at your service
If you need help carrying anything on your certification or learning journey, I’m always available. You can leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter: @qsnyder. And if you happen to be at a Cisco Live event, I’m always excited to learn more about what you’re learning, how you’re learning it, and what doors have opened in your professional career. Until next time, happy learning!
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Alone we go fast, together we go far !
Mentors, shepherds, porters.
Kudos ! It’s insightful
Excellent Quinn realy inspiring
May the force be with you, Quinn!
That’s some Jedi-level wisdom right there, Quinn
That’s the kind of advice that can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, Quinn.
Just like the Jedi, you have been a beacon of hope and guidance, your actions have proven that the Force truly binds us together.
Thanks for bringing this back to the surface.
Ansible is a popular and powerful tool for network automation and configuration management. It enables network administrators to automate repetitive and complex tasks, saving time and reducing the possibility of human errors. Additionally, Ansible is open source and has a large community of developers and users, which means there is a wide variety of online resources and documentation available.
Thank you the advice!
Thank you very much for the advice you provide us!
Nice to meet you, Quinn and thank you for your good advices, porters are precious, not all engineers will spend time on that.
I like how you break down the different roles that the advocacy team can play in a learners journey towards certification.
Thank you for making these information available and more clear.
Hey Quinn, nice article and I like the comparison for with advocates as porters! Good luck with the learning and certifications team!
May the Force be with you, Quinn, and your team of technical advocates! Your comparison of advocates to porters is truly inspiring and shows the true Jedi mindset of helping others learn and grow.
I’m looking to expand into programming after I finish ENARSI. Learning a little at a time
Great blog, thank you! 🙂
As I read this article, it occurred to me that many of us switch between the roles of mentor, shepherd, and porter on a daily basis – depending on who we are interacting with at the time. It is interesting, and satisfying to feel these relationships changes as the “mentee” grows in knowledge and experience.
very interesant, thanks
Thanks for sharing the insights. I find it helpful!
Thanks , well written , I used Ansible for last 2 yrs and it was game changer .
Fantastic breakdown, thank you Quinn, and good to see you here!
Very inspiring and helpful advice.
All the best in the new role!
Thank you so much for your wisdom sir.
Thank you for making these information available and more clear.
Thanks for making this information available. Best wishes
Very inspiring story. Thanks for sharing.
Great life path, and wonderful to read that you are available to help everyone
Thanks for sharing