Introducing the Tech Advocate Team

Trust is difficult. It can take a long time to build and just moments to damage. On an interpersonal level, it often involves a little bit of give-and-take. But on a personal level, trust is being able to believe in someone without hesitation. So, what is trust? For me, it means I know someone is telling the truth and their word is reliable. Cisco and the people who work here have done a lot to ensure you know we have your interests at heart. That’s where our Technical Advocate Team comes in.

You might be wondering what technical advocacy is. Well… it’s what it says on the box: A team of technical advocates made up of tech professionals who advocate for technology and the tech community. We’re the technical community’s best friend, helping them adopt technology and navigate their learning journeys. Read on to learn about what the Tech Advocate Team within Cisco Learning & Certifications does, who we are, where to find us, and how we are focused on supporting you to go farther in tech.

What does the Tech Advocate Team do?

We technical advocates represent our community, customers, and partners, by making sure their needs are being communicated and met. It’s about more than that, though. We also see to it that the technical enablement content we create is effective and useful. To be frank, we are a bunch of nerds who enjoy tinkering with tech, and who also happen to have the inside scoop on all things tech, learning, and certifications at Cisco. And we have the technical chops to preach, teach, and lead the tech community to succeed.

Who are the Tech Advocates of Cisco Learning & Certifications?

When you deal with the Learning and Certifications Tech Advocate team, you’re dealing with people like me—experts, definitely — but people who have your best interests in mind. This is a good time to introduce the members of the Tech Advocate Team, Tony Roman and Jason Belk, and myself. I’ve asked them to let you know some things about them in their own words. Keep reading to get to know the people behind the blogs, webinars, training videos, presentations, and more tech learning content of all kinds.

Tony Roman, Technical Advocate

Tony Roman, Technical Advocate, Cisco Learning and Certifications headshot
Tony Roman, Technical Advocate

I have over 20 years of IT experience, from System Administration to Software Engineering, with a heavy focus on DevOps, Automation, and Software Development in the last 10 years.

In recent years, I have come to realize how much I enjoy helping people learn new skills. There is nothing more satisfying than helping people understand the technology that ultimately helps them in their careers.

Generally, I call myself a maker, with strengths in design, pottery, woodworking, 3D printing, electronics, and mechanical engineering. If it interests me, I work to figure it out. All these come together to support my home automation hobby (while some might consider it an obsession). I also strongly believe in living my life with a focus on health, fitness, and recovery.

You may have seen me on webinars, like this CCNA Ask Me Anything | CCNA Prep Live Webinar, presenting at Cisco Live 2022 Las Vegas, where I discussed how IT teams can bridge the gap between software and infrastructure in the Design Thinking Workshop: Upskilling Your Workforce to Build the IT Team for the Future, or here on the Cisco Learning Blog — like Git for Network Engineers Series – The Basics.

Jason Belk, Lead Technical Advocate 

Jason Belk, Lead Technical Advocate in Cisco Learning and Certifications headshot
Jason Belk, Lead Technical Advocate

My area of expertise is network automation. I have a background working on the Cisco IT Network Operations team as well as a small consulting start-up, helping others get started in automation.

I came to be on the Tech Advocacy Team because I am passionate about learning, helping reduce the barrier to entry in the industry, and making the lives of folks in IT easier through education. I know how hard it can be to break into IT and want to help make it easier for others.

In my personal life, I enjoy family time with my wife, our two-year-old daughter, and our black lab, Piper. We like spending time outdoors around Reno since we live close to Lake Tahoe. I also play a bit of Magic the Gathering (the trading card game) and have even helped guest-host a podcast on MTG from one of the podcasts I listen to.

Check out my Ansible webinar series on the Cisco Learning Network, as well as my recent session at Cisco Live 2022 Las Vegas:

Kareem Iskander, Lead Technical Advocate

Kareem Iskander, Lead Technical Advocate, Cisco Learning & Certifications headshot
Kareem Iskander, Lead Technical Advocate

That’s me! I’ve been working in technology for 14 or 15 years now. I started my Cisco career as a software developer. In fact, I was one of the initial developer advocates within DevNet.

Outside of my professional life, I enjoy home-brewing beer and watching football (or soccer, if you’re wrong). I’m a Liverpool fan, but I’ll throw on whatever Premier League team is playing. But what does any of this have to do with anything? The answer is simple: Trust. 

Together, the three of us act as a voice for you. You can trust that when we go to bat for you, we’re speaking as experts. With more than half a century of shared experience between us, we know how to navigate both tech at large and the workings of Cisco. Each of us has worked individually to build ourselves as recognized experts and grow our credibility. Additionally, our professional lives have brought us to a place where we’re viewing these things from the perspective of the Learning and Certification content we help produce.

As Jason said in his bio, the barrier to entry in tech is high. Reducing that barrier is something we’re all focused on as a team, and working with our community is how we accomplish that goal. If you want to grow in tech, it can be hard to even figure out where the starting point is, what you need to accomplish to move on, and what you need to learn. Part of how I address this problem is by learning the things I’m asking others to do firsthand. It gives me an understanding of the material and an understanding of what students are going through when they attempt it themselves. Advocating for a community is best done when you are an active part of that community. 

Get connected and stay in the know

Now that I’ve spoken at length about community, it’s time to be a part of it. We have various learning communities available for whatever certification you’re pursuing, we produce content for YouTube and webinars, and the members of the Tech Advocate Team are active on social media.  

And in addition to the Tech Advocate Team, Cisco is full of other voices you can trust. Some of the people I look to are Yusuf Bhaiji (@YusufBhaiji), Hank Preston (@hfpreston), John Capobianco (@John_Capobianco), and Matt Saunders (@citylifematt). Look out for blog and community posts by them and follow them on social media. 

One more thing before you go…

Want to know one of my favorite things that I get to do as a senior tech advocate? Snack! Well, Snack Minute, actually…

Snack Minute Presented by Cisco U. is a weekly show covering buzzy tech topics—things like networking, automation, and cloud. I host the show with my colleague, Matt DeNapoli, and we regularly bring on knowledgeable guests to partake in each discussion. It’s more than just a discussion among techies, though. We bring these buzzy tech topics to life with real-time demos. Every episode is a new, unique opportunity to see us roll up our sleeves and get hands-on with powerful technologies.

And it gets better. All of this happens in under 15 minutes. It’s a great way to test the waters of new technologies and explore what’s possible with the right skills. After all, sometimes you just want a taste before you commit to the full meal. It’s a big menu.


Watch new Snack Minute episodes every Tuesday at noon Pacific Time,


Can’t wait? Satisfy your craving to learn: Browse recent Snack Minute episodes to find the perfect snack now. (While you’re there, subscribe and turn on notifications for alerts as new episodes are added.)


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