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Level 5
Level 5

As part of my job at Cisco, I get to spend time with Champions. Specifically, Cisco Champions.

As the Collaboration architecture lead for the Cisco Champions program, I get to interact directly with this select group of customers and partners on a regular basis. And it’s a chance for me to connect people on our technical teams directly with the people who use Cisco products every day.

Cisco Champions at CLUS
Cisco Champions at CLUS 2015, San Diego

I learn a lot from them. The technical level of conversations and threads in Spark sometimes threatens to melt my brain cells, but I get great perspective on where their interests are and how they use Cisco technology to do what they do. They’re always ready to tell me what works – and what doesn’t.

There’s an amazing amount of technical talent – and genuine camaraderie and humor – among this bunch. But don’t take it from me, see what a current Cisco Champion has to say about his experience. 

Meet Steve, the WifiJanitor

Steve Rodriguez is a second-year Cisco Champion who specializes in networking – wired or wireless -- at CDW. (His Twitter handle @wifijanitor may give away which one takes more of his time.) His Cisco experience is pretty extensive – something about spending five years in Cisco Technical Assistance Center might provide that. But let’s not worry about things being too serious. If you see a gregarious guy in a kilt at Cisco Live US, there’s about a 25% chance it’s him.

How do you benefit from being involved? I get to stay engaged with peers that I normally only get to see once a year at Cisco Live US. The information provided on the Cisco Champions Radio podcasts can be useful as well, although I've had a hard time joining most of them this year.

What activities give you the most value? Cisco Champions Radio, Twitter... I probably get the most value out of Twitter and a few offline chats that happen. Spark is nice, but with that many people in the room I have to mute it otherwise my phone/laptop are constantly notifying. Harder to remember to check Spark when it's like that as there is no messaging at all. (Now if Spark would still show a message count/bubble but didn't audible, that would be better.)

Has participating helped you in your professional gig? Hard question. Mostly it's more the fact that I'm big on Cisco products. Even without Cisco Champions, I prefer Cisco over other vendors. Right now, the program is really more a "badge." The program is still low-key so most businesses don't know what it is.

For someone not currently involved, why should they apply? Great people, great conversation, and good information shared between everyone and on the CC Radio podcasts.

Do you have a story of a particular event with other CCs from being part of the program? I’m not sure I can really share my CLUS stories… they might be incriminating. Honestly, having the group we have, it makes CLUS fun the whole way through.

How would you describe the program in your own words (not carefully crafted phrasing from a marketing twerp)? A group of networking people who love to learn and share their knowledge. Be prepared to become friends with people you wouldn't normally think to talk to or associate with. We are open, honest, and at times blunt, but we genuinely love what we do and the people we get to connect with.

Are you a Champion? Do you have a passion for technology, plus a desire to share your perspectives. Cisco Champions are all over the world and represent segments across the IT industry. And they offer their time to help others learn about Cisco and connect with Cisco in unique ways.

If it sounds like you, check out the community page and submit your nomination. Nominations close November 15th.

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