There’s a timeless saying, “It’s never too late to learn.” I’m sure you’ve heard of it, yes? But, I’m actually here to prove it too! At fifty years young? I’ve gone back to school.

What seems impossible for many, is quite possible when you have the drive and work at one of the greatest companies on the planet – Cisco! With full management support, and encouragement from many – I was empowered to head back to the class room to pursue a Master in Data Science at the Engineering and Statistics University in Rome.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Machine Learning (ML), IoT – here I come!

Of course, I was excited for this next challenge, but more importantly, I know it will really take my career to the next level. In “learning by doing” and combining my daily responsibilities at work, my experience in the industry, and the new skills I’m about to learn with an analytical approach from my studies during the program – who knows where the future will take me!

Consider this: typically graduates leave University with plenty of great theories stored in their brains, but really no experience to drive those theories out of the fog of what is possible. And, at fifty your brain is filled with plenty of practical on-the-job experience and skills you’ve mastered and become accustomed to over the years, but with limited time to continue your education.

Often, employees steal time on intercontinental flights or train trips to read an article they saved weeks prior. Maybe a meeting starts late, so there’s a few minutes to read a couple paragraphs. Some even borrow time from already limited sleep schedules to catch up on the “latest and greatest”.

It seems for many that we can either dedicate time to education or to experience, but very rarely both. Which made me want to continue my education more so.

In forcing myself to get back into a well-structured, sequential, and organized form of education – it helped me to create the framework to dedicate time to learning again as well. I wasn’t going to let age – a silly number – stop me.

Funny enough, every single piece of knowledge that I cumulated over the years appears to be easier to reach and is already starting to create new levels of correlations. Just like riding a bike, you never forget how to learn. It’s as if I’m building newer and larger shelves to house all I’m learning (and have learned). There are newer boxes to store the skills I’m still getting to know, and it’s all becoming quite efficient to access what I need and when as I begin to look at my experience from a new point of view as well.

Needless to say, going back to school also has me feeling much better in my daily work too. The skills I’m learning work in conjunction with my current business expertise and competencies. This is making my approach to problem solving much more efficient. I am enjoying, more than ever before, the process of discovering and defining problems. Thanks in large part to the more “holistic” approach that I’ve adopted. It is like I am seeing it all with fresh eyes!

In going back to school, I’ve also had the chance to meet new people each and every week – many who are from industries, universities and in general areas of knowledge that I have had yet to experience before this opportunity. Can you imagine how fantastic this level of networking is? It’s truly added so many wonderful connections to my life.

Are you wanting to go back to school as well? Here are some tips I’d like to share from my personal experience:

1.Don’t Limit Yourself: It is never too late to learn! Once you make the decision to go for it – then go do it! Deciding to switch you brain back into “learning mode” will be an incredible experience for you, and once you start? You’ll never want to stop!

2.Leverage Cisco Benefits: It’s true, many companies support employees with learning opportunities. In my experience, however, only Cisco empowers you to such a high level with both internal and external opportunities for further training and education. As I am a Unified Communication (UC) Architect, I also have to urge you to use Cisco Collaboration to make your daily life more efficient! For instance, attending a WebEx Teams video meeting at university student rooms while waiting courses to start! This will help you to take full advantage of your time organization and accomplish more!

3.Talk to your family: Working AND learning will take time – not a small price to pay, indeed. Getting your family, and even friends, on board will help tremendously to set you up for success! This will help to set expectations for the time you’ll need to study, complete assignments, and ultimately – graduate! If your family is like mine, they’ll see the overall value this is giving back to not only your career advancement – but how it benefits everyone in the family as well.

I wish you much luck on your journey, and good learning to us all!

Are you ready to head back to school? Tell us what you’d like to study and accomplish in the comments below!


Want to join a company that empowers your continued education? We’re hiring! Apply now.


Angelo Fienga


Sustainable Solutions, EMEA