So this time 2 years ago I saw a tweet mentioning the Cisco Champions Program was open to nominations, and thought to myself what’s that.
So I did a bit of reading and all I really could find is a Cisco Communities page that listed the benefits of the program and its eligibility requirements. Now initially I didn’t really think much of the vague benefits of exclusive meetings and a closed group community but thought what the hell I’ll submit an application and see how I go.
Well I was accepted into the program in 2017, and what followed has been quite a ride, and I will defiantly apply to continue my membership in 2019 when applications open in a few weeks.
As you’re probably like me and the benefits listed on their FAQ site don’t really give you a full picture of what to expect so i will let you know what I personally have gotten out of the program.
This part of the program has been great. We get early releases of various new release products and features this allows you to ask questions and be ready to jump on the new product or feature either with a blog post or early adoption. And this isn’t just products and features, even early announcements on Cisco Live bands and after parties.
Well not too many programs I know of that are open to non employees that give to access to high level managers within the company here are just a few that I have had the pleasure of meeting
I have had meetings in person with Susie Wee the VP and CTO for Cisco DevNet, where she and her team held a round table candid discussion the the Cisco Champions at CLUS about DevNet and how it could be improve, and what the champions wanted to get out of DevNet. This meeting was followed up by Susie joining the Champions WebEx Teams rooms and giving us further access to her and her team.
At Cisco Live Melbourne we got to meet with Ken Boal the VP for Cisco Australia and New Zealand. Now this was Ken’s first insite to the Cisco Champions Program and I’m sure this will grow into much more for the APAC based Champions in the future.
Peter Jones and Silvia Spiva
Well a special mention has to go to meeting Peter and Silvia and how much they have embraced the champions program, especially us ANZ based champions. Between them they arranged many of the activities at Cisco Live Melbourne
Cisco Live as a Cisco Champion
Cisco Live is always special, catching up with old friends, learning something new or networking with someone new. But as a Cisco Champion Cisco Live is something else.
The Champions Program has a number of events which are exclusive to Cisco Champions, things like reserved seating to the keynotes, and even some front rows. Then there were the behind the scenes tours of the Cisco Live setup both from a technical and physical building of the sets.
Then there is the social aspect events, things like arranging access to multiple different people into podcasts, and different social events like Champions Drinks, Tweet-ups and many more.
Access to online community
This part of the program, I wasn’t originally expecting to really be much more useful than the Cisco Communities, but I have found this to be one of its best features (other than the fun of meeting all the Champions at Live)
I have access to private Cisco Communities forum just for the champions, where links to sneak peaks, champion questions and more are hidden away from the non champions.
Then there is the Champions Webex Teams rooms with multiple rooms for different focus areas to ask questions on products or as I have done a few times ask for help when TAC isn’t giving you the love you need to fix that network down emergency. The best bit is unlike forums, people actively participate in here and most of the time you get someone helping or giving advice in no time at all. On one occasion i had my incident resolved and TAC were still scratching their head because of this resource.
There are regular Webex meetings to discuss products, general discussion and help on your blog or podcasts all value added things that have grown over the last two years of the program, and this really is only limited by what the champions want out of the program.
Cisco Champions Radio
Cisco Champion Radio is a regular Webex session that is recorded and released to the general public to listen to, but as a Champion you can host/ co-host or participate in the Q&A sessions.
There have been some great sessions and the champion program allows you to come up with the topics and who within Cisco you would like to talk to and as questions about current products.
So do you have what it takes to become a Cisco Champion?