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Friday, June 21, 2024

The power of community helps Cisco Insider Rob Taylor bring innovation to his customers.


Cisco’s advocacy community, Cisco Insider Advocates, brings our customers together and provides a way for them to make powerful connections, expand their professional and personal networks, and learn from top experts in their field. One of our goals with our advocacy community is to deepen relationships with our customers. Our Q&A series allows us to shine a spotlight on some of our most passionate advocates as we learn more about their stories and backgrounds.

Today, we have one of the friendliest faces in the community joining us for a chat. I’m excited to welcome Rob Taylor from Prosperity 24/7.

Welcome, Rob! It’s so great to talk with you today. Let’s kick things off by learning a little bit about who you are.

I live in the beautiful island of Jersey, Channel Islands. It’s the southernmost gem in the English Channel’s crown, nestled just 19 km west of the Cotentin peninsula of France.

I’m married with two grown children, and my family is everything to me. We’re all about those family holidays and spontaneous adventures—the more active, the better!

I’m not a pro, but you’ll often catch me on the padel tennis court or trying my luck at badminton. Let’s just say my skills are a work in progress, but it’s all about the fun, right?

One thing you can count on with me is my glass is forever half full. I believe in making the most out of every moment. So, here’s to embracing life’s twists and turns with a grin and brightening each day with a smile!

Where did you start your career in IT? And, what professional decision or opportunity helped lead you to your current role?

I was introduced to IT in 2001, when traditional business telephone systems (PABXs) began transitioning toward IP telephony. I was a fish out of the water; just four years prior, I was a budding electrician, moving from apprentice to electrician, at an offshoot of Jersey Electricity Company (JEC).

Then, JEC created a small splinter company named Jersey Electricity Telecommunications; I was selected to retrain as a telephone systems engineer. During my time at JET, I took on many responsibilities, gaining experience across sales, procurement, accounting, and eventually, management. It was the most challenging and fun time of my career at that point.

Five years later, I was offered a senior engineering position with Jersey Telecom. Within the year, I was appointed as senior account manager for corporate businesses. Unfortunately, after four years, I realized I was losing my strengths as an engineer, and especially in staying current on technology and tools, which was my passion.

Fate stepped in, and I was introduced to the world of Cisco by a couple legendary consultants. These consultants became great friends, and I have the pleasure of working in partnership with one of them to this day. Some of you may have heard of him, CIA Rockstar Legend Simon Watkins. (Read more about Simon in this Cisco Insider Advocates Q&A!)

A group of men, all part of Cisco Insiders, at Cisco Live Amsterdam 2024
Rob Taylor (center) with his fellow Cisco Insider Advocates at Cisco Live Amsterdam 2024.

How has partnering with Cisco helped you in your role?

Partnering with Cisco has become the greatest game changer in my career to date, enabling me to upskill and, even better, to leverage experiences in engineering, sales, marketing, and procurement to become one of just a few experts within the Channel Islands to deliver a compelling value to service providers and digital integrators alike. By dedicating hours of studying and self-development, I was able to begin deploying and designing robust network solutions for businesses throughout the Channel Islands. All credit to Cisco and their pre-sales and technical specialists who I have worked with on the more advanced solutions, just one of the many “olive branches” Cisco offers to support its partners.

Fast forward a decade, and I’m now jointly heading up the network solutions team within an amazing digital integrations business, Prosperity 24/7, a Premier Integrator for Cisco. We now hold two Cisco specialisations: the Networking Specialisation and the Environmental Sustainability Specialisation. We are especially proud of the latter since sustainability plays a very important role within our business.

Prosperity 24/7 have a dedicated Environment & Sustainability focus team that works toward reducing the impact businesses have on the environment. We partner with local businesses that are aligned and dedicated to reducing unnecessary waste and preserving our planet’s resources to achieve this goal. It is fair to say that nearly all reputable businesses prefer to partner with organizations working toward a zero emissions baseline and as such, new opportunities and lines of revenue have opened. An example is when a business relocates to new premises; Prosperity 23/7 takes care of their old premises by managing the recycling and repurposing of their old network infrastructure, from the racks through to the users desks, computers, and monitors.

Let’s move on to our customer advocacy community. It looks like you recently joined the program and are already climbing up in the ranks as an Advocate Rising Star. How would you describe Cisco Insider Advocates to those who aren’t familiar with it?

I joined Cisco Insider Advocates in 2023. I immediately saw the value in this community and how, through gamification, I could enjoy learning about new products and services that provoke constructive conversations with clients, while building points to redeem on future purchases through the Cisco Store. Joining and playing an active role within CIA really is a win-win situation, and I genuinely recommend everyone join.

What made you want to join, and how has being a part of Cisco Insider Advocates impacted you both professionally and personally?

Over the past couple of years, a few colleagues and friends joined the community and were clearly enjoying the experience and the plentiful challenges they participated in. Not least, they enjoyed the challenge of rising through the ranks together.

After I joined the community, I too began taking part in the challenges and found many of them to be both inspiring and insightful. Meeting a few of the CIA members at Cisco Live brought an immediate connection with them, especially when we were discussing our shared approaches to technology and developing business. I formed new and valued friendships, and I’m looking forward to the next time we meet, whether that’s at another Cisco Live or when we visit each other’s country.

On a professional level, Cisco Insider Advocates is proving to be the perfect destination for self-development and encouragement to step outside of your comfort zone. An amazing team supports Cisco Insider Advocates, and they’re excited to assist and encourage advocates to develop themselves and in turn, their careers. To reach the higher ranks, advocates can complete challenges that can involve writing online reviews, speaking at a Cisco event, etc. These may be out of the ordinary for many engineers and consultants; however, with Cisco Insider, you’re given the opportunity to excel and grow your value at your own pace. Many organizations see these newfound skills as positive attributes and justification for a potential salary boost, or the reason to choose one candidate over another.

A photo of Cisco Insider Rob Taylor and a quote from him.

Let’s move on to Cisco Live 2024 Amsterdam held this past February. You met some of your peers from the community and members of Cisco’s Customer Marketing team for the first time! What did you enjoy most about meeting everyone at Cisco Live this year?  

Cisco Live 2024 in Amsterdam was nothing short of amazing. Meeting peers from within the community felt like I was seeing old friends that I hadn’t yet met in person. What a great bunch they were!

Even though we’re new friends, living in disparate jurisdictions, we could collaborate and share ideas and experiences with each other. It’s safe to say that the Insider community has enabled like-minded experts, ordinary guys who share a thirst for life, to connect and make a positive difference.

I will be staying in touch, and we’re looking forward to the next time we reconnect in person. Cisco Live 2025, here we come!

During the conference, we offered a lot of fun activities at the Cisco Insider booth. Among them, which was your favorite and why?

There was a plethora of fun activities available during Cisco Live 2024, all of which were truly great! What stands out for me most was the panel session (and wine tasting!) held in the booth. The event featured one of the world’s Masters of Wine, of which there are less than 500 in total. We all learned a great deal and enjoyed the newfound taste explosions during the wine sampling (the best bit).

My thanks to all the team for their work and effort in making the whole experience memorable.

Before I let you go, I’ve saved the best questions for last! Do you have any advice for anyone attending Cisco Live for the first time? What are your best tips to them to help them prepare, both before and during the conference? 

  1. Make sure to join the Cisco Insider Advocacy community and climb those ranks.
  2. Be sure to book Cisco Live early and begin scheduling your events before they fill up.
  3. Make sure to give yourself time in between sessions to recoup—they’re going to be long days!
  4. Take advantage of the free Cisco exam and begin preparing as early as you can.
  5. Take the time to socialise with like-minded friends that you simply haven’t met yet.
  6. Choose your hotel and location wisely.

 

       …and we’d love to finish with three things you can’t live without?

That’s easy (but it’s going to sound very boring!)

No.1 My family & friends (cheating here)

No.2 My health

No.3 My zest for life—adventures, fun, moral compass, and spontaneity

It’s been a pleasure to chat with you, Rob! Thank you for being a valued Cisco Insider and for joining us!

Read more advocate interviews.

You might enjoy this interview with Wouter Hindriks.

Join us!

For our customers who have already joined our Cisco Insider Advocates community, say hello to Rob if you haven’t met yet. And if you’re a Cisco customer but aren’t a community member, consider joining. You’ll be able to:

  • Connect with peers in a gamified, online community
  • Have an opportunity to meet with Cisco’s executives
  • Share your feedback, questions, and best practices
  • Get access to ‘insider’ content and resources
  • Grow your professional and personal brand
  • Amplify your company’s success story with Cisco technology

Ready to get started?

Head over to the Cisco Insider Advocates community and say hello!

(Requires registration / login)

 

 

 

 

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