Interview – Interview with Co-founder Kim Pedersen

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It’s my pleasure to give you our first interview with industry experts, my friend and co-founder of the blog, Kim Pedersen!

Hi Kim!

Welcome to Networkcareer!

Where do you work and what’s your role?

Currently I work at Lytzen IT A/S in Denmark which is a Cisco Gold Partner. My current role is divided between managing and operating our own MPLS network as well as the traditional VAR role.

What kind of roles and work did you do before arriving at Lytzen IT?

My last role was with a smaller VAR and the one before that was in a private enterprise. In the first as a systems engineer doing VAR work and in the private enterprise one, I was in charge of the global network. At the very beginning of my career I worked as a software developer.

What have you learned in your career so far that you would like to tell the younger you?

Don’t waste time and be focused are two pieces of advice I would give to myself. As a young individual it’s easy to get caught up in all sorts of things that might not be the best use of time career wise. Being focused is also very important if you want to reach certain goals, so I would include that as well.

What are the most important skills you have picked up in your career so far?

To love the learning process! By far. If you find ways to take pleasure in learning new stuff, changes in technology and the industry won’t be as intimidating as it otherwise would be.

What’s your opinion on degrees? Are they useful for someone in the networking industry?

I think they can be very useful. But I also think it varies from individual to individual. So far, for me, it’s not been a requirement. I did however start down a degree path (Computer Science) when I was younger, but because it was not very focused and varied wildly in what was taught, I decided it was not for me. But everyone is different, so going for a degree could certainly help in the long run.

What about certifications? Are they losing their value?

Short answer is I don’t think so. Long answer is really depending on what sort of value you are talking about. For me, and I think many others, the real value in certifications are two-fold. First off, is that you have demonstrated a certain knowledge in a particular field. That might be what you are after job-wise. However, for me, the real value lies in the journey in order to obtain the certification. The learning path is absolutely worth it for anyone in the industry. You will gain a lot of different skills. Not only networking skills, but also things such as sticking to something that might take years to complete. Discipline, to keep at it at certain times, even when others are doing something that seems like a lot more fun. So I really do think there’s a lot of value in certifications.

Is the skillset of network engineers changing? What skills are important to have in the coming years?

First off, I don’t think networking has ever been a rock solid thing that’s never changed. Yes, something has stuck in the field for a very long time and might be needing a “refresh” in some way. That being said, I do think skills such as Automation, some Developer skills and a stronger focus on the services the network provides will be beneficial to everyone. However all of this goes hand-in-hand with the skill to “Learn”. That is the most important one! If you have the skillset to learn new things (fairly fast) then you wont be stranded by a sudden shift to something else in the industry.

What skills are important for Network Architects?

Business skills comes to mind. For me a Network Designer is one who takes technical and business requirements and produces a certain outcome. The Network Architect on the other hand is the linkage to the senior level management of the business. It’s his or her job to facilitate the product of the Network Designer to top management and the other way around.

Will the need for networking experts go away? Is it better to be a generalist than an expert?

Heavily depends on your job role. No, I don’t ever think network experts will go away. You still need someone that can do deep level troubleshooting and implementation. Even though the rage is about overlays and cloud nowadays, everything still runs on a network link at the end of the day. However, learning a bit more about the “environment” in which you operate will never hurt any. Quite the contrary.

What do you think of soft skills? Do we need them in the networking industry? If so, which ones are the most important?

I think they are very important indeed. It’s actually an area in which im trying to improve personally. I think skills such as communication are very important. Especially since I think you need to interact with a whole bunch of “different” people in the years to come. This being the end-users, their managers, business people etc. for a variety of reasons. I would rate communication skills amongst the most important.

With SDN, orchestration etc. can we throw the “traditional” networking knowledge out the window? Why or why not?

I don’t see that happening any time soon (or ever). Yes, some job roles will change from CLI input to a more Application focused input and a lot of stuff will need to be automated to deal with the ever increasing complexity. However you will still need a lot of folks who understand the nitty gritty details underneath everything.

Should someone in the networking industry learn to code? Why or why not? What is your language of choice?

Yes. At least a little bit. Maybe some scripting here and there. As mentioned I think we will need to deal with complexity in a programmatic way sooner or later. Tools and ways of doing things will slowly “drip” down from large entities such as Google, Facebook and LinkedIn towards us mere mortals. It will take time, yes, but eventually it will happen in some form. Right now im really enjoying doing some basic stuff in Python. It’s a nice language for getting stuff done.

What’s your best advice for staying updated in the networking industry? How do you stop the sipping from the firehose?

That’s a tough one. I try and stay updated using social media. Especially twitter I find is useful for figuring out what’s going on in the industry. I try and be very selective though. I know my time doesn’t permit me reading every single article out there.

Before we close out. What would you want to give as a final piece of advice to the NC readers?

I think I would like to reiterate my recurring theme about Learning. Keep being curious, keep learning new things, being networking protocols or even a programming language. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from peers in the industry. You’ll be amazed how willing people are to help out in this industry of ours.

Thanks to Kim for a very insightful interview!

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