Overcoming the language barrier
When Marcelo Lima was chosen by his company to pursue his CCIE certification, his biggest barrier was the English language.
Ask any networking professional who has earned a CCIE® certification or is currently a candidate about the biggest obstacle to success, and you’re likely hear stories about the tremendous amount of preparation that is required. Whether it’s sitting through classes, laboring over books, or spending countless hours configuring routers and switches in a homemade lab, anyone who has been exposed to the CCIE process knows you are never likely to feel prepared enough. But what if you could barely speak English? How would that affect your ability to achieve expert certification?
Such was the case for Marcelo Lima, a Network Support Engineer for Hewlett Packard, who earned his CCIE in Routing and Switching in 1999. HP chose Marcelo, along with three fellow engineers, to receive the support required to attempt the CCIE exam in 1997. To study, he drove sixty miles each way from his home in Santos, Brazil to an HP practice lab in Sao Paulo, where he spent every weekend but one over the course of three months. Back then, Marcelo’s fluency in English was minimal. On the first of many training visits to the United States, he needed a friend to translate for him throughout the entire class. As Marcelo recalls, “It was a week-long training, and by the end of the training, this instructor asked my friend [who was translating for me], ‘Did he even learn anything?’”
“It was a week-long training, and by the end of the training, this instructor asked my friend [who was translating for me], ‘Did he even learn anything?’”
Apparently Marcelo did, because by 1999, when he passed on his second CCIE lab attempt, his English—as well as his technical abilities—had improved dramatically. “There are a lot of good things about becoming a CCIE, but I think the greatest benefit is once you prove you can become a CCIE, managers think, ‘This is a person who can learn anything. It doesn’t matter what he knows right now; it’s what he has the ability to learn.’”
But Marcelo was not chosen to pursue CCIE simply for his own benefit. His employer benefited too. “I think it’s a selling point for a company. The more CCIEs you have, the more knowledge you have available to use in crisis situations. You also have access to other brilliant minds at Cisco.” So perhaps it is not surprising that once Marcelo accepted his company’s request to earn his CCIE, failure was not an option. “When I went to my second [lab] attempt, my manager said I had two choices: one was to pass, and the other was to pass. There was a lot of pressure.”
But for Marcelo Lima, who now lives and works in Atlanta, earning his CCIE was well worth all his effort. “It’s a plus,” he says. “It’s been a plus since 1999.”