Women have come a long way in technology, but sometimes, it feels like there’s still a long way to go.
We got a little closer to the end goal here in Norway recently, when my friend and colleague Kari Asheim became the second female CCIE in the country. (The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert is a technical certification offered by Cisco that certifies the skills required of network engineers.)
What made Kari get into technology? Coming from a technical family, her older brother was her first mentor.
“I’ve always loved to solve complex problems,” Kari explains. “I loved networking technology and getting creative with routers. Connecting small things to bigger things.”
So Kari started to work on her CCIE to expand her skills. And it wasn’t easy. The work was hard, and took a lot of time. She used her personal network to share ideas and do lab work.
Kari had been working with Cisco people and Cisco products before joining, and everyone told her about the nurturing environment at Cisco and how it was always noted as a Great Place to Work. She also expected that there would be a lot of opportunity to work on quality products with other engineers to create exciting solutions.
“Different from anything I’d been able to do before.”
She even interviewed using Cisco’s Webex, which further showcased to her the potential of Cisco’s collaboration products. The majority of her interviews were at home, which let her balance the process with taking care of her family and the work she was already doing.
“During one of my interviews, my son interrupted (as they often do.) I thought it would be a negative on my interview, but my interviewer completely understood, calmed me down, was kind and laughed about the situation to put me at ease.”
Her first impression of working at Cisco continues during her first year. Her manager is approachable, transparent and consults Kari and the team on decisions.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to learn new things, and for me, as a Consulting Engineer, this is essential.”
Kari is currently working on a network improvement plan with a financial services customer.
“I’ve become a trusted advisor to their business, consulting them on a top security scalable solution,” she says. “It’s a product with high visibility that affects millions of users. If you think about every ATM transaction or online purchase made, Cisco technology is at the core of this service. So it needs to be up and running, else people will know about it! “
Now that Kari’s tech career is well underway and growing even more in her role at Cisco, she has some tips to share with other women in Norway, and around the world, who might want to follow her footsteps.
- Be confident in yourself.
- Take some risks and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
- It’s OK to not know everything. You can develop and learn. Know the fundamentals and learn as you go.
- Grow your network. Keep in contact with people who share your values at university, throughout work. This will be invaluable to your career.
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