At Flint, we believe that investing in the continuous education of our team members is not just a smart business decision but should be a given in supporting our employees’ professional development. Therefore, we are more than proud to announce that our certified CCSI team has six new members.
Certified Cisco Systems Instructor (CCSI) certifications are globally recognized accreditations that represent a high quality of service, excellent technical knowledge, and a commitment to the Cisco community. To become a CCSI, engineers need to complete the Instructor Certification Program (ICP) successfully. The event is comprised of exams that test the candidates’ technical knowledge as well as presentational, educational, and other soft skills that are essential to be a great instructor. CCSI candidates need to show that they can effectively deliver course material, know the technology inside and out, and are able to motivate students.
The CCSI program is Cisco’s “quality control” when it comes to instructors. When working with a CCSI on educational or engineering projects, customers can expect to work with a highly trained professional who stays up to date on the latest technologies and continuously improves their skills. CCSIs are certified to lead in-person Instructor-Led Training (ILT) and Virtual ILT, develop high-quality training and support students all over the world to conquer important skills.
Six New CCSIs Join Flint’s Award-Winning Team
Flint’s CCSI instructor team is among the best in the EMEAR region, being awarded three Instructor Excellence Awards last May. Six Flint engineers, Jošt Balent, Jakob Gazič, Robert Šilar, Boštjan Šuštar, Amadej Vidic, and Sašo Vukomanović, have now joined our team of exceptional instructors and will soon start delivering trainings on the latest and greatest Cisco technologies.
Our CCSI team is headed by experienced IT Architect and Instructor Jaka Javornik, who couldn’t be prouder of his team’s achievements: “I was immensely impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication with which our instructor candidates approached the internal preparation program. Each and every new instructor will play a crucial role in our company’s success. I cannot wait to see them dive into and enjoy their new role. I’m sure, they will get great reviews from their students and couldn’t be prouder of their success.”
How our Engineers Trained for the ICP event
As mentioned, deep technical knowledge is crucial for passing the exam to become a CCSI instructor, but it’s not the only skill engineers need to master. Senior IT Architect Boštjan Šuštar has been a CCSI instructor for more many years and has been now recertified after a two-year break. Through his extensive experience he knows that there are many facets to being a successful instructor, but one is particularly important. “The most important skill of an instructor is to be able to put himself into his students’ shoes (i.e., job roles) while using his knowledge to solve their problems which are related to the topics covered by the training,” emphasises Boštjan.
Every CCSI candidate needs to be sponsored by a Cisco Specialised Learning Partner or Cisco Learning Distributer and already hold a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or higher certification. Flint has been a Cisco Business Learning Partner for a few years now and is happy to support its engineers to gain additional certifications. We provided CCSI candidates with workshops and practice exams to help prepare for the ICP event and work toward a successful completion.
“Jaka, our mentor, organised live sessions with a diverse audience where attendees had various levels of knowledge about the subject matter. We gave presentations to the mock-up class, which was also recorded. Our audience comprised of Jaka and our experienced content developers and designers Anja and Urška tried their hardest to heckle us and expose us to situations often encountered in a real-life classroom. After the presentations, we had a thorough debrief to highlight the things we need to work on a bit more,” describes new CCSI and Junior Development Engineer Jošt Balent the preparation process. “Their input and vast experience with teaching a classroom proved to be invaluable and contributed a lot to our success. Apart from the prep-work, we had a lot of support from other Flint team members as well, since we could go and ask them for help regarding topics that we were not so well-versed in.”
What Does It Mean to Be a CCSI?
CCSIs are held in high regard in the IT community, as they are known to be excellent instructors and engineers. Reasons to take the ICP exam are manyfold. Apart from the obvious additional capability to deliver Cisco courses, engineers often look to improve their teaching skills.
“I was always as passionate about teaching as I am about learning. That is why I was very excited and grateful that Flint provided the opportunity to pursue the revered CCSI certification. I learned a lot during the process, not only through the preparations, but also through the ICP event itself,” explains new CCSI and IT Architect Sašo Vukomanović.
“Being engineers, we spend a good portion of our time working with people that do not have the same level of technical knowledge as we do, which is why good communication, presentation, and teaching skills are invaluable,” adds Software Engineer and new CCSI Robert Šilar. “The CCSI program forces us to analyse and reflect on our approach to how we pass on our knowledge and how we explain complex technical solutions to other people.”
Engineering intern and new CCSI Amadej Vidic has chosen to take the ICP exam to get out of his comfort zone and build additional skills: “I wanted to prove to myself that I can effectively deliver a course that meets the high-quality standards of Cisco. I also knew that the exam together with the necessary preparation would teach me a lot about myself and help me improve my soft skills. In addition to that, I believe that the acquired CCSI title will have a positive impact on my future career.”
The ICP Event and Staying Up-To-Date With Technology
Our new CCSI instructors took their exams in the middle of October. Drew Rosen, Senior Director of Customer Experience, Learning Experience Strategy & Architecture at Cisco, led the ICP event and assessed our candidates’ delivery and skills. “Drew attended our practice sessions and supplied each candidate with detailed feedback on our body language, speaking skills and posture, and shared his experience with various types of students. During the exam, he then assumed some of those different student personas to challenge us. The ICP event was rounded up by a debrief during which Drew gave us an insightful evaluation of our presentation and some tips on how to react or not react to certain types of students,” sums up Jošt. “Drew wasn’t ‘just’ a proctor, a judge, but gave us invaluable advice, helped us improve, and diffused the tense exam environment with his great sense of humour.”
Delivering training and motivating students to acquire new knowledge is an art on its own. Our CCSIs also work on developing courses for a new generation of Cisco learners and need to stay up to date on the technologies they teach. “These days, staying up-to-date and learning about new technologies is easier than ever. The internet and IT vendors provide us with multiple free and paid learning courses and environments, as well as large, open communities which are active on platforms such as Slack, Discord, Reddit, and others. The only things required are a computer and a will to learn,” notes Robert. “Such resources provide us a wider and more varied understanding of our specific area of expertise, which allows our courses to be more relevant and engaging for our students.”
Between Delivering and Developing Training and Working on Projects
While most of our new CCSIs are more than excited to take on their new teaching role, they will still work on “real-life” engineering projects for our customers. At Flint, we believe that it is crucial for our instructors to be as close to the technology as possible and work on client projects regularly to hone their practical skills. Their involvement in client project also elevates their students’ experience as they are able to share real-world examples and solutions. “I believe that the most valuable trainings are delivered by instructors that can illustrate a point by providing examples from personal experience. That is why I always try to draw from my involvements in production environments and solutions. Incorporating “war stories” into trainings also helps to engage students and sparks interesting discussions, which are one of the most significant benefits of instructor-led trainings,” shares Sašo.
More than one-third of Flint’s engineers now hold the CCSI title, and many more will follow in their footsteps in the next few months. We are more than excited that we will be able to deliver more trainings to our customers and are very proud of our amazing team. And what is our new CSSI and Engineering Intern Jakob Gazič looking forward to? “I’ve always enjoyed teaching and explaining various topics to people. With the newly acquired knowledge I already look forward to starting to teach trainings to test and improve my delivery skills even more. Meeting and sharing knowledge with people from other cultures all over the world. It’s going to be an exciting adventure!”
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