Earning a Customer’s Business
KS Ganesan’s pursuit of the CCIE certification began at the request of a potential customer.
Most candidates begin the quest for CCIE on their own initiative. They want the professional respect and career potential that comes along with certification. Others’ pursuit of expert status stems from a management directive. But for KS Ganesan, the motivation to achieve CCIE certification was not only the result of his drive for excellence, but began with the request of an important customer.
In 1995, while working for Microland Limited in India, KSG proposed a networking solution for a well-known multinational semiconductor company—who at the time was not a Cisco customer in India.
“The then-CIO told us they would buy the solution proposed, provided the person designing it was a CCIE,” KSG, now the Chief Technology Officer for Microland, remembers. “[I told them] I can get my certification in a quarter’s time—it was a really good and challenging experience.”
Determined to keep his word, KSG got the necessary equipment for his studies and formulated a strategy. “You need to prepare yourself for live customer scenarios,” he says. “I expected it to be tough. I expected time pressures from multiple scenarios.”
And pressure from other places, as well. KSG attempted the lab at the same time as one of his colleagues. “I vowed I would finish and pass the exam before him,” KSG remembers.
"It’s instant credibility—instant acceptance from your peers and people who don’t know you. Suddenly, you’re on a pedestal."
True to his word, KSG passed the CCIE lab on his first attempt. And in doing so became not only CCIE #1750, but the first Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert in India. “With the [CCIE] certification, things changed,” KSG says. “It’s instant credibility—instant acceptance from your peers and people who don’t know you. Suddenly, you’re on a pedestal. People start believing in you more than before. They think you know a lot of things—and that puts pressure on you to go back and learn. And organizationally…it helped in terms of sales and marketing of Cisco solutions.”
Microland eventually changed its business model from offering products to services, and Cisco no longer requires them to have a specific number of CCIEs on staff. However, as KSG puts it, the company certainly still sees the merit of having CCIE-certified staff to support high quality managed network & security services for its clients”.
KSG passed the lab in December 1995. Since then, he has recertified regularly—most recently in the Security track. He is now considering earning a second CCIE. “Every year I force myself into a Cisco learning cycle,” KSG says. “[To stay certified] you need to have a passion for learning. That’s the most important quality.”
And what came of the vow KSG made to his colleague who attempted the lab along with him? KSG is quick to answer: “I finished ten minutes before him.”