The goal of Cisco’s Black Belt Academy is to provide our partners with an efficient and effective role-based learning journey, which is presented in two or three sequential Stages. There is a strong correlation between partners’ revenue growth and the number of their employees who earn Stage 2 and 3 certifications, which require a deeper understanding of the subject matter, so progress requires validation.

However, we received feedback from partners that our validation criteria aren’t always appropriate for some roles. We listened. The result: more flexible validation criteria.

What’s changed – New flexible validation criteria for Presales and Deployment Roles

In the Black Belt Academy, as learners progress on their journeys from Stage 2 to Stage 3, new options are available depending on the role and the technology. We have provided alternatives other than the Deal ID submission for Stage 2 Learning Plan completion.

Alternative criteria include:

  • Completing a “Capture the Flag” mission
  • Creating a Perfect Pitch video of how you would present to a customer
  • Proof of concept document of a test environment setup for a customer
  • High-level design document of a customer solution

These details, which are built into the Learning Plans, will be available as the learner’s progress on their journeys.

Solution specialization tracks like SASE, FSO, Hybrid Cloud and Hybrid WFH will still require a Sales Order number from learners who are planning to apply for solution specialization at the partner (company) level. Partner admins should refer to program guidelines here.

Overall Impact

  • More learners are progressing to Stage 2, which increases the number of those eligible for Stage 3 and certification. Read Jose van Dijk’s blog for some persuasive Black Belt metrics.
  • More options will make this validation process less complicated.
  • A more streamlined learning journey, including automated ‘Capture the Flag’ missions.
  • An overall improvement in user experience.

These changes represent our direction towards making the learning experience better for our partners. We are working on future improvements for you. Stay tuned!


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Alejandro Rodriguez

Leader, Business Development

Global Partner Enablement, Cisco Black Belt Academy