Ike likes certification: Colombian IT pro on a better career path

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This feature first appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.

Ike Britton and his family are getting big benefits from IT certification.Ike Bowie Britton’s father named him in honor of President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. “My father always said he was a great president,” said Ike. This is perhaps more unusual than it might otherwise seem, because Ike and his family aren’t American citizens, and they don’t even live in the United States — Ike was born and raised on San Andres Island (San Andres) in Colombia.

San Andres, approximately 500 miles northwest of the Colombian mainland in the Caribbean Sea, was originally colonized by English Puritans in 1627. It is one of the most picturesque locations in the world, replete with stories of pirates, treasure and intrigue amongst European powers. One of the island’s attractions is Morgan Cave, one of the locations where the pirate Henry Morgan was known to hide his ill-gotten booty. (Some say it’s still there.)

Location and history have given San Andres a rich mixture of culture and languages. Because of this, Ike speaks Spanish, English and Creole (a mixture of English, Spanish, Portuguese and French). He also enjoys learning and credits his father, Ebrero Ignacio Bowie, with instilling in him a desire to learn and improve.

“My father always read a lot,” he said. “I am very proud of him, he is considered one of the best teachers on San Andres. He is an education advocate — that is why he reads a lot.” As for his father’s admiration for Eisenhower, Ike said his father “was raised on Christian principles; every time he talked about Eisenhower, he said that he too had ‘Christian principles.’ ”

The path to certification

Ike, age 33, is a busy man, raising a young family, working full-time and attending Corporación Unificada Nacional de Educación Superior (CUN) in the evenings, where he is in his last year of a degree in System Engineering. On top of all those things, he’s also working on the SecurityPro certification from TestOut Corporation (TestOut).

Ike’s certification journey is all about dedication. His motivation came when, as a young university student, his wife, Natalia, announced that they would soon be welcoming a little “bundle of joy.” He knew he had to start making some money, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. “I was just a student. I did not have a degree or any experience to get hired,” he said. “It was a hard time for me and my wife. So, I decided to start an online IT certification about things that I already knew.”

Working with the desire only an expectant father feels, Ike enrolled in several online courses with the National Learning Service (SENA). With hard work and discipline, he earned certifications in Computer Maintenance, Linux Operation System Command and Utilities and Macromedia Flash Tools.

Then, with a fistful of certs, he a technical support positon. “I realized that IT certifications were necessary if you want to get a job,” Ike said. Presently, Ike and his family live in the Colombian capital of Bogota, where he works as a change coordinator with Unisys Corporation, while attending night classes at CUN.

A family man

In spite of career and educational demands, Ike is all about family. “My family comes first in my life, including my parents, sister and nephew,” he said. “My parents live in another town so I cannot see them as often as I would like, but I spend time with my sister, my nephew and my own family.” Ike and Natalia have two beautiful sons, Samuel, age seven, and Joseph, 22 months.

Ike loves his children and especially enjoys spending time with Samuel and watching him swim. “I go with him to his swimming lessons. He’s a great swimmer and I am proud of him,” he said.

It’s clear that Ike’s greatest asset is the support of his wife. “I believe that my husband is the best. He always gives his best to be a father, devotes time to the family, and works hard to provide for us,” Natalia said. “After a long day of work he goes to the university to study. His greatest desire is to graduate and have a better future. I thank God I have him with me.”

Todos los deportes

Ike enjoys sports and grew up playing them. When he was younger, he played basketball at the university level, where his team won several championships. Although he doesn’t get to play as much as he used to, he still uses sports to relax. “I love to watch, play and live sports,” he said. “I love all sports especially basketball and soccer. Now I play with my sons and nephew every weekend.”

In soccer, Ike roots for FC Barcelona, “Because I saw three of the best players in the world play – Romario, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho Gaucho,” he said. “They played in different times, but I had the opportunity to see each one of these football ‘magicians’ play.”

His favorite sport is basketball. “I watch every game, player and league I can, but the NBA is on top,” he said. As a basketball enthusiast, Ike offers an unbiased perspective on today’s players, calling them ‘great,’ but not as skilled as an earlier generation, “Nowadays we can see some great players like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, but it’s not the same as before.”

Study abroad

IT certification is making a big difference for Ike Britton and his family.Recently Ike was part of a senior student group from CUN that traveled to Utah to fulfill their graduation requirements. They visited Utah’s technology industry (the so-called Silicon Slopes). While there, they toured several major tech companies like Adobe and IM Flash. They also visited a number of universities and learned more about the value of IT certifications and the opportunities they offer.

“Utah is the ‘new’ Silicon Valley,” Ike said. “Our visit opened my mind to all that is happening with tech companies.”

He was also impressed with the quality of Utah’s universities. “Schools like Utah Valley University, the University of Utah and Brigham Young University showed me another point of view of the future of IT.” As an additional requirement for earning his degree, Ike is completing TestOut’s Security Pro certification.

Ike’s experiences and responsibilities have helped him realize the value of certifications for young people. “If you don’t have experience in IT jobs, go get an IT certification so you can certify you have the knowledge and capacity to do what your resume says you can do,” he said. “IT is growing daily, and daily you can find new opportunities in IT. You have to prepare to ‘catch’ these opportunities, and certifications are the ‘glove’ to catch them.”

As a husband, father, employee and student, Ike has a lot of demands on his time and attention. His namesake, President Eisenhower, once said that, “Accomplishment is a journey, not a destination.” Clearly Ike is catching his IT opportunities, and having a wonderful journey.

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Calvin Harper

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Calvin Harper is an associate editor of Certification Magazine.

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