Interview with Cisco's David Stanford - Why Cisco Support Community Helps Customers, Cisco, and His Career

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Mar 23, 2012 10:18 AM
Mar 23rd, 2012

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Q: What’s your Cisco role?

I’m a network consulting engineer with the Advanced Services Operate Practice, specializing in network management systems (NMS). When a customer wants a new application on the network, I write the design document and determine how we’ll proceed. Before starting this position in 2011, I worked in the Technical Assistance Center for 11 years, focusing on network management products and protocols.

Q: Tell us how you got involved with Cisco Support Community.

In 2006, one of my team leads told me that HTTS (high-touch technical support) customers sometimes ask questions in the forums, and that answering their questions online would save us from having to open a case. I started allocating an hour each day to answer questions in the Network Management forum. The next morning I look for responses to my post, and follow up.

Q: How else do you participate?

Ninety-nine percent of what I do is answering questions. When I don’t know the answer to a question, I’ll look into it because other customers will have the same issue. I also write Tech Tips, and I conducted an Ask the Expert session on SNMP. I’d like to do another Ask the Expert on optical network management because expertise is rare.

Q: Why do you continue to participate?

I still learn a lot from the forums, and not only from Cisco participants. For example, a customer recently posted about a problem with CiscoWorks involving a “403 Forbidden” error message. Our usual recommendation in this situation is to recreate certificates.  But another customer posted about a simpler fix, which is changing the browser security settings. This has solved quite a few cases.

Q: Does active participation help your career?

It’s definitely helpful. One reason is that I pick up technical expertise every week. Another is that senior management in different organizations look favorably on engineers taking a leadership role in the community. I even included community participation in my performance evaluation, stating that I would answer a certain number of questions.

Q: Why would you recommend your peers become active in the Cisco Support Community?

I find that reading the forum posts is a great way to stay up to speed on networks. Formal training teaches you how things work, but the forums educate you on what customers are doing with their networks.

Q: Any suggestions for improvements to the community?

I’d like to see a way for Cisco subject matter experts to correct or remove incorrect information without embarrassing the poster. Currently, if I see something that’s wrong I send a WebEx chat message, or else post a response that says it’s “updated information.”

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