Cloud Computing

Meet our Hybrid Work Hero from the Cisco Global Advocate Awards 2023

Meet Josh, Senior Systems Reliability Engineer at T-Mobile and our Hybrid Work Hero, from the Cisco Global Advocate Awards 2023: Americas event

Welcome, Josh! Thanks for joining us today. Let’s kick things off by talking about where you started your career, and what professional decision or opportunity helped lead you to your current role?

I started at a local flooring company some 20 years ago. I was straight out of high school and loved working on computers. I was blessed to have a company take a chance on me and allow me to learn and grow. Back in those days, I did everything as I was one of only two IT staff and the other person was my manager. Printer, workstations, servers, firewalls: we did it all. That gave me a great base for my next career move which was to work for a local consulting company supporting 30 clients with different needs, standards, and hardware.

There was no one decision that led me to where I am today, obviously. It was more a thousand tiny choices, well timed conversations, hard work, and quite a bit of blessings out of my control. I’d say the main thing that has propelled my career forward has been a good foundation of knowledge, open conversation with others, and genuine curiosity. These tools allow networking to happen and networking with others is where I have found all my best career opportunities.


You’ve been awarded the Hybrid Work Hero award in our Cisco Global Advocate Awards 2023: Americas event. Congratulations! What does this award mean to you?

First, it tells me that the Cisco Global Advocacy team and the Cisco Insider Advocates community listens to its members. They care about our stories and about supporting us. Forever, telling stories of success or failure have been a mainstay in learning, growth, and improvement. And getting the chance to share my story is something that allows me to process the lessons I’ve learned and share them with others in hopes that they can get results quicker or make less mistakes.


Talk to me about your journey at T-Mobile. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?

Just joining T-Mobile was the most difficult challenge I faced. On Friday at my old job, I supported 300 users, and on Monday when I started at T-Mobile, I instantly supported 90,000. Mentally that’s an insane leap to make and if you focus on it for too long on your first few days you might decide to quit. But the one piece that changed it all was an amazing team. They helped me learn, grow, respected my opinion and overall, we all supported each other to the point that we all succeeded as a team. The team you work with makes all the difference. And all my biggest challenges became small when I worked with such a great team.


Does T-Mobile have a clearly established hybrid work policy (one that allows employees to work remotely, or requires a certain number of days in the office, etc.)?

Clear enough. Haha. If you live within a certain number of miles of an office, you need to come in three days a week. If you’re a Director or higher, it’s four days a week. And if an employee has been designated a remote worker, then it’s only during special events and such that they will need to come in. Managers help direct that designation for their individual team members. But let’s be honest, as long as we have great collaboration tools and technology, I am able to feel close to being in the same room with all my coworkers even though we live half a country apart.


Does T-Mobile have a future plan for expanding their hybrid work environment beyond Webex and conferencing?

We do not have plans that are in action, but the one plan that we do have is to always stay current with the technology out there and be poised to make the best strides for the company. We want to save money, efficiently use the resources we get, and in the end provide the best experience for all our employees no matter where they are working.


Do T-Mobile employees have all the digital tools they need to perform their jobs wherever they are?

Absolutely. But let me take that just a step farther, because the digital tools are only one piece. Our employees have the digital, physical, and management support to accomplish everything their job requires, no matter where they are.


What were T-Mobile’s biggest challenges when implementing hybrid work?

Finding the right mix. What tools did every employee need? What tools do only some need? How do we source in that number? What kind of training will they need to be successful when they are not at the office? How do we keep all that secure? So many things needed answered and time was not on our side. It had to be done quickly. I heard this phrase and it always stuck with me. You can have fast, cheap, or quality. Choose two. And that has held true for me. We had to make those decisions over and over again in the early days of the pandemic. But once we got the software and hardware needs sorted out, the decisions became a lot easier.


How has partnering with Cisco helped you in your role?

How many words do I have? I will try to keep this short. From the team dedicated to working with T-Mobile, to the TAC Engineers, large room solution architects and the Global Customer Advocacy program, Cisco cares. I think that’s the main thing that shines again and again is that you feel like a person, using technology from people who love their company and solutions, and it shows! It keeps me excited about new releases of software and hardware, and it gets quality equipment into my hands that’s easy to support so I can always do more with less. And most importantly, Cisco listens. When we have trouble with a feature, they want to make it better and they are interested in hearing customers’ thoughts. In every way, Cisco shows that they show up to the table and that makes all the difference.


Our team was delighted that you were able to attend the awards ceremony at Cisco Live in Las Vegas! How was your experience at the event? You also participated in a customer panel session. What were your takeaways from the panel? What did you learn from your peers?

Thanks! Attending was a huge treat! It’s only my second Cisco Live and my first as a speaker. I felt like I was at a conference but not there “to conference.” Per se.

I had so many different speaking engagements that I was busy every day and only had a few hours to see Cisco’s World of Solutions and attended no sessions. Not disappointed in that, it was just a vastly different experience from my first Cisco Live. And honestly, more fun! Also, more exhausting! Haha. But one of my biggest thanks and highlights was the Cisco Insider

Advocates lounge. There was ALWAYS seating available — a must when you are at a convention and on your feet all day – and friendly faces, treats, and just a wonderful place to call home in a foreign environment. That booth, the talks they planned, the Global Advocate Awards ceremony, and overall friendly and quiet resting place was my solace during the hectic show and my most favorite part of the whole experience.

I learned how important it is to look at hybrid work from not just a solely technological point of view. How do we earn the commute back into the office? How do we provide mutual experiences for those who come in AND those who work from home? How do we make all feel equal and how do we compel people to learn and collaborate in new ways without bringing extra fatigue to people’s work lives? And, how do we bring in the right tech the first time to minimize change and maximize users’ successes and their productivity output? This is a new world we live in today from three years ago, and no one has all the answers, but in getting to share the stage with Marissa and hear from some others after our customer panel session, we all have a more complete and holistic view and it’s an exciting world we are blazing forward into.


You’re one of our Cisco Insider Advocate “Rockstars.” What made you want to join, and how has being part of this community impacted you both professionally and personally?

This is kind of embarrassing, but my first Cisco Live was in San Diego in 2019. And the Cisco Advocates area (called The Cisco Gateway back then) had chairs, ice cream bars, and this points leader board that had a Playstation on it. And I was intrigued. So I signed up thinking, “There’s no way you’re ever going to get any cool rewards like that, but I might as well see.” And that was all it took! The community kind of wrapped me up in it, I was learning more and being exposed to other Cisco technologies outside of my collaboration side, and I was being offered fun opportunities. I would say that this is a classic case of: you get as much, if not more, than you put into situations. Being a part of the Cisco Insider Advocates community has really expanded my horizons on Cisco, gotten me in touch with Cisco leadership, as well as given me a base to find other customers who use the same Cisco technology. I can also get my questions answered in the community, share stories and solutions, and I just really enjoy helping one another out. It’s been a huge blessing to be part of such a great community! To think, I just walked up because they had a place to sit and ice cream. Kinda crazy.


Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in your field?

Get started. Doesn’t matter if it’s the most entry level position, because the biggest challenge you will face is getting your foot in the door somewhere. And then once you are in, start volunteering to learn new stuff, grab new responsibilities, stretch yourself and advocate for your career desires. Good managers will want to help you grow and will want to help you get to

the next step. Also, say yes more than no. Saying no, no one learns, but if you say yes you will learn, grow, and become a person people can rely on and trusted for your vast experience, including failure. And never let a good failure go to waste. Talk about it, learn from it, don’t bury it. I recently was making changes to some older buildings and thought one was being de-commissioned that was not. Without thinking, I deleted the 50ish Webex units out of the control hub. Then the calls started, people’s meetings ending, rooms were offline. It was a horrible feeling! But I had a great team. I called them, told them what I had done, and we all scrambled to that building, had all 50 rooms reactivated in about four hours, and together we got out of the pinch. And in the end, my team covered for my mistake and I learned to pay closer attention when making mass changes. Have fun and grow.

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