The Cisco Designated VIP program recognizes exceptional contributors among Cisco online communities, including the Cisco Learning Network and the Cisco Support Community. With this program, Cisco formally recognizes the positive contributions that these excellent individual members make to the Cisco Learning Network and to the greater Cisco Certification and IT communities.
Anyone can become a recognized VIP on the site as long as certain requirements are met: Cisco Learning Network VIP requirements and benefits. Commonly, VIPs are first recognized on the site in our Community Spotlight Awards program and then move onto VIP status later.
Aref Alsouqi is a Cisco network and security engineer with 16 years' experience who lives in Italy, where he works as an IT consultant for his small company. Aref is the man of "Hmm, what if I do that instead…? Let me try to change that and see what happens…!! Why is that working that way and not the other?!!" Aref spends his days and nights digging deep and immersing himself into Cisco technologies. As well as being a Cisco fan, he also works with other technologies, like Windows and Linux servers, Mac OS X, VMware, and Exchange servers. Aref considers himself a troubleshooter, and VPN troubleshooting is one of his favorite things to do. He studied on his own and gained experience in his own small lab with real Cisco devices.
Aref really enjoys working in the IT field, especially with Cisco technologies, and he always tried to convince his customers to replace their non-Cisco devices with Cisco ones! He has worked, and provided support, for customers in many countries around the world, including the USA, UK, Italy, Germany, Dubai, Sweden, Jordan. He has also provided technical solutions to Internet Service Providers and telecommunication companies over the world. Typically he used remote technical support sessions to accomplish his job. Recently he moved on to work in different multi-national global companies in the network security teams.
Aref is always an active member on CLN (though he may be a little quieter during his final preparation for Cisco exams!) and he won the CLN Spotlight Award on May 2014. He enjoys participating and giving support on CLN and he considers that an important part of his continuing learning as well. Aref believes that CLN is an important technical and professional resource for all IT technicians since it has a lot of very well qualified people from all over the world. He also believes in sharing his IT experience with the others and learning from them at the same time as well.
Aref started his journey toward his CCIE Security exams. After that he will be working toward his CCDE. He is looking forward to mastering IPv6, FirePOWER, ISE, TrustSec and MPLS. Aref believes that he won't ever be finished with learning about technology as there are always new things to learn. He also believes that a lot of undocumented things are learnt only by sharing expertise with others and by building scenarios in lab environments. His dream is to reach a master level of expertise and knowledge within Cisco! When Aref has free time, he enjoys swimming and traveling to discover and explore the beautiful world, people and their culture.
I started out back in the nineties as a desktop guy; back then that was how it went, and graduated into networking operating systems from there. Cisco came into my work life about the mid 2000's as part of a district wide upgrade and I never looked back. The certification pieces grew from that exploration, as well as a desire to get a stamp of approval on the knowledge I was gaining.
I've worked on networks large and small since but always with a keen eye towards keeping aligned with a Cisco path.
The Cisco Learning Network became an outgrowth of that. I found CLN to be a perfect forum, what with the wealth of knowledge that seemed to be constantly waiting in the wings, and the networking rock stars that would pop in from time to time. At first I was hesitant to chime in, answer questions, etc, but after a while that became more comfortable as I became more comfortable, and I found I had something to share from time to time.
I love movies and music and I am also an avid chess player.
I keep a blog on my progress towards CCIE and also have a Youtube channel mostly geared towards certification.
Daniel Larsson is a Senior IT-consultant within a small group of IT-specialists that work with IT-Infrastructure projects. He spends his days working with complex projects that involve looking at the IT-Infrastructure architecture as well as the underlying network that taps into it. He grew up during the years when IT was becoming a major profession and during this time he developed programming skills. He also started working with IT early on as a programmer at the age of 16.
Then he had to experience the "IT-Bubble" and during this time he decided to try something else and started to work with electronics & hardware engineering. Eventually he found his way back to IT and networking again around 2010. He holds a degree in Information Technology Engineering, and it was during his University time that he came in contact with Cisco Equipment "for real" and started to work towards obtaining his CCNA via the Cisco Networking Academy-program.
He kept studying and quickly obtained his CCNP & CCDA and during his CCIE-studies he's been known to scavenge books from all the Cisco Certification Tracks available. He's knowledge-thirsty and likes to read technical books on new topics, even though he actively denies it among his friends - it's his fetish. He's currently pursuing a lot of certifications, but his main focus is the CCIE R&S.
He is actively participating in discussions at Cisco Learning Network that involve helping other students achieve their first Cisco-certification and he often tries to give helpful career advice - or in any other way give his objective opinion about related topics. He strongly believes in that sharing knowledge with other people is the key to success. He would like to someday be more actively involved in teaching other students in a class.
Working with IT is a demanding business so during his spare time he likes to "disconnect" and watch movies, take a walk, spend time with family, play fisbee-g olf and go fishing.
Daniel Dib, CCIE #37149, CCDE #20160011, is a Senior Network Architect at Conscia Netsafe. He works with creating scalable, modular and highly available network designs that meet business needs. Daniel started out in implementation and operations and got his CCIE in 2012. In May 2016 he became the second person in Sweden to get CCDE certified.
He often acts as a subject matter expert for his customers with deep expertise in routing, switching, multicast and fast convergence. He is an active person in the networking community and believes in helping people reach their full potential. He writes technical articles, blogs and holds member led study session for the members of the Cisco Learning Network.
In his spare time he enjoys the company of his two children and his wife. He likes to work out and is a big sports fan. Daniel lives in Sweden and is located in UTC+1 time zone.
My IT story began when I was in 6th grade working learning HTML and Web Design for the first time. It was at that point I knew my future would be in computers, just not sure what exactly I would do.
It wasn't until I reached College at Jacksonville University, pursuing a degree in Computer Science, that I found my niche, Network Engineering. I had heard my father talking about Cisco Certifications at some point in the past and was curious to find out what it was all about. I saw the video from Jeremy at CBT nuggets on ICND1 for the first time and I guess you could say fell in love with Networking. I had no idea how much went into sending information from one computer to another in a timely fashion. The whole thing fascinated me.
I powered through ICND1 and ICND2 during college graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science and a CCNA. I was fortunate enough have been offered a job at the place I innterned as their Network Engineer. There is nothing like that shock of your first networking job after achieving CCNA. This motivated me to keep going with my studies finally putting the pin in my CCNP certification for R&S earlier last year.
In my spare time I enjoy Classical Music, Audio Engineering, Video Production, Dance (not that good yet but working on it) and more.
I've always had an insatiable curiosity to know how things work and what can I do to improve them. Growing up, I was always breaking stuff and asking my parents "why?", they even bought me a book called "The Why of Things" – because I was asking too many questions. So I broke and repaired my computer several times just to know how it was working, what was inside. When I was at the university, a friend told me about studying in a Cisco Academy, that networking was amazing, but I didn't know how cool it would be. I started as an Academy Student, then became an Instructor, playing with switches and making jokes with my students.
Eventually, realized that CCNA was not enough, that I wanted to know more. I started to make personal goals, most of them big goals, but I divided them into smaller, achievable goals, where every triumph is a joyful checkpoint. Got CCNA Security, CCDA, CCNP R&S and CCDP. And, now pursuing CCDE! Yeah, its awesome to know how things work and how you can play with them - and being certified for doing that is even better! Nothing of this could be possible without support of my friends, family, CLN and my co-workers - I have learned A LOT from all of them!
CLN is full of amazing people ready to give you a hand and guide you without asking something in return. When someone explains something to someone else, you can follow the thread and learn things right along with them. It's a win-win situation! This is a BIG family and always waiting for you to ask: "What's next?"
Currently I am working as a network engineer at IBM (since 2016), and our team supports a client with a challenging transition project involving massive migrations and consolidations of DCs. My daily responsibilities include working with Nexus platforms and DC technologies in ACI and non-ACI environments mixed together, along with Load Balancers and some other devices. We support an environment that always needs more and more integration, which can be a challenge to accomplish sometimes.
I currently live at Brno, Czech Republic, I'm a latin guy that just turned 25 years old on December 31st, trying a new city and a new life. In my free time I try to learn new stuff, support the staff of my university in Caracas with networking advice, also try to update my blog, go out with some friends that I've met here, watch series, anime and movies I can find. I am trying to improve my Czech too, and that's a big challenge, indeed.
I believe it's important to make an impact in peoples' lives and make a difference wherever you are, whatever you do. Think different, be curious, don't be afraid of being yourself, stand in front of the crowd, learn as much as you can, and "pass the ball" as I tell to my students, to help another player to go onto the field.
Juan Garcia holds an MSc. in Telecommunication Engineering and several Cisco certifications, including a CCIE. He works as a Solutions Architect Engineer for a Service Provider translating business needs, budget, and operational constraints into the design of converged solutions. As an SP Engineer he has got IT experience in banking, enterprise and mainly in public sector, linking in a sustainable way business needs with state-of-the-art technological solutions. Nowadays he is mainly interested in network design and virtualization technologies applied to WAN, were he acts as a technology expert.
Kevin Santillan is a technology enthusiast who enjoys sharing his knowledge and experiences and has a knack for teaching and mentoring others. As a Network Engineer for a multinational company, Kevin spends his days working on network design, implementation and support. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering in 2012 and earned his professional license that same year. Currently, Kevin holds four certifications, namely: CCNP, CCNA, CCNA Security and ITIL v3 Foundation. He strives to learn more and is preparing to become a CCIE. Kevin strongly believes that good discussions can be a powerful tool for learning. He contributes to the Cisco Learning Network community by providing concise answers to questions and producing online technical content.
In his spare time, Kevin can be found reading, learning new technology, listening to music, or hanging out with his family and friends. Kevin resides in the Philippines.
Luke Robertson has been working in IT in Australia since 2002, and holds active CCNP and CCDP certifications, as well as a Masters Degree in Networking and Systems Administration.
As with so many others, the journey began with desktop support and repairs. Gaining experience here enabled a move to server solutions, including design, deployment, and management, while earning an MCSE qualification.
Wanting to expand into more interesting areas where ‘turning it off and on again’ is not considered the first step of troubleshooting, a move to networking was inevitable.
Since 2011, Luke has been working in a network focused role, working for a software development company. He works on the network infrastructure, mostly in data centres, so the companies’ applications can be deployed to their customers.
Recently this has included expanding to the public cloud, which has brought up some interesting challenges around multi-tenanted communications.
Everyone in IT has benefited from community support over the years, and there is no exception here. Aiming to be part of this, and to give back to the larger community that has been so supportive, Luke now writes articles and creates videos, aimed toward other networking professionals at any experience level.
In the future, Luke would like to earn a CCIE qualification… If juggling the challenges with family life proves possible!
Mark Holm is a Network Consultant with many different areas of work, covering anything from basic office LANs to large-scale enterprise data centers and service provider networks. He is a 3xCCIE: R&S, SP & DC (#34763) and CCDE #20160020. At work, he spends his time doing network design, implementation, troubleshooting and network architecture for clients. He is often seen hanging around at Cisco Learning Network to assist other candidates in reaching their goals by participating in discussions and writing technical documents. He really enjoys the time he spends there, and finds it extremely rewarding as it helps him stay sharp on all the small details of networking technologies and terminologies that are easily (and quite often) forgotten. Always seeking to extend his knowledge, chances are that he will pursue even more certifications in the future. Learning new technologies and getting into new areas of work is simply a big driver for him. He advocates for SDN (ACI in particular) because he finds it is a technology that is cool to work with and that it provides new exiting possibilities that have been difficult to achieve with classic networks.
His spare time (he actually does have some) is spent working out, playing online games, photographing and enjoying life in general. He is a tech aficionado and gadget freak, both of which requires some time to keep up at especially finding the next gadget to buy can be (and often is) a time-consuming process.
He lives in Denmark and is as such most active during the day time of the CET time zone.
Martin Losik is former small business owner, now co-owner of family business and an independent IT Consultant with over 20 years’ experience in IT working in USA and Europe. Working as an independent contractor, Martin had opportunity to handle all aspects of computing. His recent projects were large Windows 7 migration and end-user support, Networking infrastructure replacement, HP server consolidation and migration.
After graduating Capella University with Bachelor degree in Networking, he began his focus on networking filed. Martin would like to move from “Jack of all trades“ IT person and focus on particular field, toward being in charge of providing networking solution for small and medium businesses. His goal for 2016 is obtaining CCIE R&S certification.
He is an active member of the Cisco Learning Network since 2009 and has been awarded the Cisco Support Community badge in 2012. Besides satisfaction of helping others, CLN provides a lot of problem solving opportunities, an helps him in retaining knowledge, and learning technologies and concepts from others.
Currently Martin holds CCNA and CCNP (Routing and Switching), CCNA Voice, CompTIA A+, Network +, MCSA, and various HP certifications. He passed CCIE Written exam in 2015; planning to take CCIE lab in 2016.
I began my life as an engineer somewhere at the end of 2015, or maybe the beginning of 2016. As fate would have it, I still remember the conversation. Previous to this conversation, I had over a decade of experience as a seasoned (some say hardened) criminal defense attorney, and another two years advocating for workers trying to form a union. Life had handed me an incredible opportunity disguised as a lemon, and I was at a crossroads. The conversation, with my Darling Husband, went something like this:
DH: You should look at this as an opportunity to do something new.
Me: What do you think I should do?
DH: I dunno... I think you’d be really good doing what I do.
Me: What do you do?
He handed me Wendell Odom’s Official Certification Guide for the CCNA Route/Switch. I didn’t even know what a router was. But I started reading. And learning. Still learning today.
A few weeks after I started reading, I was googling something or other, and one of my search hits was someone’s post on Cisco Learning Network. Holy cow! What a find!! I could post a question, and someone would answer my question! I’m sure if I go back now and look at the questions I posted then, I’d laugh at myself, but hey, even the most towering t itans of technology started somewhere too. Eventually, I started being able to answer questions, not just ask them, and now I answer as many questions as I ask, and even write now and again.
In the three years since I had that conversation with my DH and found this incredible online community, I’ve taken seven exams, gotten four certifications, and passed the CCIE data center written exam. I contribute non-technical writing for the CLN Women in Networking forum.
And, my technical writing can be found on the CCIE Data Center study group by searching for the key phrase “...Just for Fun.” I’ve written about VXLAN, ACI, FabricPath, vPC and even some storage.
2019 will be an exciting year. This year I am doubly honored to be selected as a Cisco Learning Network VIP and a Cisco Champion. I am also making The Run for The Digits. And if I am really lucky, 2019 will be the year that I find some amazing employer that could really use my blend of powerful communications skills with high level technical expertise all wrapped up in a small but potent, non-standard form factor.
When I’m not growing my brain bigger, I ski in the winter and boat... well, all year long. I live with my DH and our outrageously spoiled dog in the best place on earth for skiing, boating, and tech—the Pacific Northwest. You can check out the adventures of the Murphy’s on their boat, Adventuress at Not All Who Wander Are Lost.
Percy Luis Venturo Huares was born in Lima – PERU. I studied at the National University of Callao ("UNAC" in Spanish) and I graduated as an Electronic Engineer, where I got 1st place of my promotion. In addition, I have a registry in the College of Engineers of Peru ("CIP" in Spanish). I started working on several Telecommunications and Electronic Security Systems projects, and I received training in Structured Cabling Systems and Fiber Optics.
In 2011, when I started a specialization in administration and support in networks, in one of the sessions, I heard about Cisco and its certifications for the first time. After researching about it, I made the decision to obtain a CCNA R&S Certification to become one of the best in the World of Networking.
I studied the CCNA R&S modules at a Cisco Academy (NetAcad). I practiced with different network topologies using Cisco Packet Tracer and GNS3, so in 2013 I got the certification. In that same year, I participated in the International Networking Competition "NetRiders" organized by the Cisco NetAcad, where I obtained 9th place in the Latin America and the Caribbean region (CANSAC Region) and the 2nd place in Peru.
Although I was registered on the Cisco Learning Network page since the last months of 2012, it was not until after I got the CCNA R&S certification in 2013 that I started to participate in this great page where I got to know the great variety of experts in the multiple Cisco paths.
In February 2015, I was the winner of the "Cisco Learning Network Spotlight Award" for being an active member of the community, and later I got the CCNA Security Certification. At the end of that year, I got 2nd place in the "Top 10 Members For 2015 On The Cisco Learning Network".
In the following years, I took Cisco NetAcad training courses in Linux, Cybersecurity, Mobility Fundamentals and Internet of Things. During the year 2017, I studied for CCNP R&S and finally I got it in 2018.
I currently work in Supervision and Consulting in Projects related to Telecommunications, Cisco Networking and Electronic Security. I continue to train on Cisco Data Center, Cisco DNA, CCIE R&S and Project Management courses.
I always have a determined attitude and dispose to improve, facing each challenge. First, thank God and the family for allowing me to grow personally and professionally. If God allows it, I will be able to reach many more goals and become an expert in Cisco Technologies, especially in Routing and Switching. Also, help the entire Cisco Network learning community to solve these very interesting cases. I am proud to be Peruvian and I encourage the people of my country to pursue their goals. Everything is possible if we trust in God and work with great enthusiasm, effort and responsibility.
Many thanks to Cisco Learning Network’s team for this recognition. I receive it with humility because I still have to improve as an Engineer to help new members of the community, while also contributing to the development of Telecommunications projects in my country.
Ever since I was 7 I knew that I wanted to be in IT but it wasn't until high school that I discovered Cisco and the world of Networking that I knew exactly what I wanted to do. The school I went to was a registered Netacad and allowed students to take the CCNA as a course however being young and naive I never actually took the exam. Between high school and actually getting my CCNA I had several IT jobs in various fields of IT ranging from help desk to administering Windows and Linux Servers and also Voice services however I am currently working as a Network Engineer for a State Government organisation which allows me to get my hands on some pretty cool stuff.
After 10 years of putting off my CCNA I was encouraged by some work colleagues to just go for it. So I did and obtained my CCNA in R&S which was followed by my CCNP in R&S 11 months later. I have also obtained my CCNA SP and am currently working towards the CCNA Wireless and CCDA with plans to continue on to CCDP, and one day the all mighty coveted CCIE in R&S.
My spare time is taken up by my 4 kids, camping, fishing, Martial Arts, Studying and Labbing for my next exam and the CLN forum. I find the CLN forum is not only such a great place to meet all kinds of people from all different backgrounds but to learn from those very same people as well.
After graduating college, I ended up picking graphics design as a career choice. However I soon found myself mystified with the magical world of internetworking on many occasions. I did a little looking around and happened to stumble upon Cisco Learning Network. Studying for the Cisco Certification matched both my desire and priorities. It seemed an obvious choice from there on for me to get fully involved in the networking world. Currently, I hold my CCNP in R&S and am working towards CCIE R&S.
Since then I have dedicated myself entirely to studies. I'm highly motivated and also enjoy looking into other tracks specifically Data Center and Design to upgrade my skills. I believe the most important thing I have learned over the course of my studies is one shouldn't expect to have a complete, revealed understanding of anything at once. Each new concept learned is a building block towards full understanding. In this way, looking into the design and data center track has given me a better perspective and provided deeper understanding for various concepts relating to R&S and has been rewarding. I believe combining this concept along with critical thinking, reasoned arguments, and logic is the most efficient way to understand technology.
Cisco Learning Network is a repository of valuable technical knowledge. There are some amazing members here who post their applied knowledge. Learning from their experiences has helped me progress in my studies and will help all who seek answers to their questions while studying.
During my spare time, I catch up on TV shows, music, and movies. I have a strong passion for all animals and their welfare. I also enjoy browsing the support community forums and read responses on various subjects by the professionals there as well.
I started my computer education and moved from BASIC and then Pascal programming in my teen years to professional IT career as a PC assembly technician. But it was when I discovered networking, I decided that this is what I want to excel in. I started playing with Cisco topologies in GNS3 instead of computer games and watching Wireshark captures instead of cartoons. In 2011 I finally made a "leap of faith" and went into a networking-only role. I've never regretted it and always found it challenging, interesting and rewarding.
I like spending my time reading posts on CLN, trying to help other people understand technology and solve entertaining challenges that other members design and publish.
I've been registered on CLN since 2010, but started actively participating more recently. And I've found that giving something to the community has benefitted me too, every single time.
Steven Davidson has over twenty years of experience in the field of Information Technology. The last eight years have been spent working almost exclusively with Cisco products and technologies in the area of IP telephony, security, and data center. He spends his days working on a test and certification team and collaborates with architects and other engineers to integrate and evaluate new products and technologies in a large-scale lab. He holds certifications in CCNP Routing and Switching and CCNA Voice. He is currently studying for his CCIE in Routing and Switching and hopes to pass his written exam before the end of June with an eye on his first lab attempt before the end of 2016. His spare time is filled with family time, raising two small children with his wife in the Upper Midwest. He also enjoys staying physically active and recently completed his first marathon, the Twin Cities Marathon, in the fall of 2015.
VIPs from previous years