How did two Cisco employees become vlog hosts in the year 2020 that connected us to industry leaders in technology? Well, this is that story and for me, it all happened just as I was about to become a first time mother. I knew I wanted to do something special, but I did not realize that ‘something’ would be THIS special! My story is about how to stay ‘you’ in challenging times and as you become a parent.

I reached out to my Cisco colleague and friend Steven Heinsius who is a Cisco Live celebrity – famous for his session “How to fail as a Wireless Expert”. I am a Systems Engineer on the Cisco Meraki Inside Sales team, while Steven is a Leader on the Global Sales Business Development team.

The idea of starting a vlog (it’s like a blog in video format) caught our attention and we decided to go for it – yep! +1 more vlog out there! But ours would be different, and here is how – we decided that we would have a Late night show format where we’d discus wireless technology, have experts as guests, and spice it up with a sense of humor and an entertaining delivery.

Sofya taking part in her vlog with 2 other guests

Next up, we’d need a studio – but in the year 2020, recording in someone else’s studio wasn’t a great idea, so we got to work CREATING our own in-home studios! Steven started to build his in home studio first – and that’s where our vlog got it’s name: The Basement Series. Soon thereafter, my (incredibly patient) husband and I got to building my in-home studio in our apartment.

From there, we got to work on inviting our guests and we’ve had some incredible industry leaders share amazing bits of knowledge with us – here are some examples:

Sofya with pixelized glasses on.

1. Keith Parsons, Director of Wireless LAN Professionals (United States) – Our debut episode was a memorable one you will not want to miss with Keith Parsons! It contains some of the best career advice you’ll ever receive on how to become an expert in your industry, and especially in wireless technology (it’s easier than you might think too!) Keith says to find a mentor and engage with the community, writing a blog (like this one!) and even starting your own blog helps too so you can share your ideas and knowledge with others.

2. Nicolas Darchis, Cisco Customer Delivery Engineering Technical Leader (Belgium) – Nicolas Darchis is one of the most experienced CCIEs who knows the pain of troubleshooting a network, and is the co-creator of the Wireless LAN Configuration Analyzer (WLCCA) – a tool that will make you the go-to Wi-Fi troubleshooter! I loved that in this episode we spoke directly to those tech engineers who want to stop wasting valuable time manually going through line after line of dull text, trying to figure out where and when the problem is occurring in a network and helped them troubleshoot faster, so they can solve their network issue quicker.

3. Anssi Tauriainen, Ekahau VP of Product Management (Finland) – Think you can design a Wi-Fi plan for the Empire State Building in just THREE MINUTES? You can! And in this episode, we learned how to do just that with planning & monitoring services that Cisco and Ekahau have collaborated on.

Now, eight months since we’ve started recording, I’ve given birth to my baby, got back to work in a new role – and sure, there are many sleepless nights and teething to go along with these days. They say the days are long, but the years are short – and I can now see what they mean. Being a part of this experience, and a co-host of The Basement Series has given me a way to express myself. The vlog and my Cisco community has given me something I needed most in this year: support.

Yes, I am a new mother, but I that is not all that I am – I am still Sofya. A wife. A Systems Engineer. A woman in tech. A vlog co-host. A Cisconian. It is wonderful to see what we can all accomplish together, and when we are empowered to be our unique, authentic selves.


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Sofya Strunskaya

Systems Engineer