Networking guru Heinz Ulm recently celebrated his 10th anniversary as a Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE), one of the most prestigious certifications in the IT industry. During his decade with this designation, he has operated a boot camp that has helped produce—by his own estimation—about 450 other CCIEs, about 10 percent of the total number of IT professionals in the United States who hold this level of certification.
The CCIE confers almost instant admiration upon certificants from their colleagues, Ulm said. “If they’ve heard about the CCIE, they really appreciate it and respect it,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘Wow!’ and ‘What’s your number?’ If people know about the CCIE, they know that there’s a number associated with it. The number relates to how long you’ve had it. When they hear that my number is 1561, they almost can’t believe it because that’s from the first 500.”
Interestingly, obtaining the CCIE wasn’t even Ulm’s idea. He was working as a Cisco instructor at the time he received the suggestion, but he already had the certification he needed: the Cisco Certified Systems Instructor (CCSI 93038). “I became a Cisco instructor in 1993, doing the regular Cisco class—introduction to configuration, advanced configuration, troubleshooting, design and such,” he said. “I didn’t need to be a CCIE. It wasn’t a requirement. I didn’t do it because I wanted to do it. At that time, I was doing freelance training for the NCR Corp., and they asked me if I would do it in…
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