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Cisco Networking Academy Fostering Founders, One Learner at a Time

By Laura Quintana

Cisco Networking Academy Fostering Founders, One Learner at a Time

By Laura Quintana

Published 09-07-23

Submitted by Cisco Systems, Inc.

Four people seated together with open laptops, talking.

As we celebrate World Entrepreneurs’ Day on August 21, it is interesting to reflect on how an established company like Cisco—a Fortune 500 company with more than 80,000 employees—relates to entrepreneurship.

Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at Cisco. In fact, the qualities that define an entrepreneur such as risk taking, creativity, perseverance, and passion are foundational to the way we operate and pursue opportunities to serve our customers and communities. In fact, the very reason Cisco started in 1984 was born from personal desire to solve an urgent issue and need for personal connection.

Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner were not able to email each other from their respective offices at Stanford University because they were on different networks with different local area protocols. They developed the multiprotocol router, and that’s how Cisco was born!

Their entrepreneurial spirit lives on in a company that strives to solve business challenges for our customers today. Not only that, but Cisco also helps businesses large and small to seize the opportunities of tomorrow.

Training future entrepreneurs

For more than 25 years, Cisco Networking Academy has trained people to build and maintain networks utilizing the latest technology. But it has done so much more than that. As part of the process, learners are encouraged to work collaboratively, and the program fosters a mindset of identifying and solving problems.

These are core entrepreneurial skills. Numerous Networking Academy learners have gone on to use those skills, not only in networking, but in business too.

Antonius, from Indonesia, had never encountered a computer until a tsunami brought rescue workers to his hometown, where he saw the value—and opportunity—in tech. He went on to study at Networking Academy and earn CyberOps Associate certification. In one of his first jobs after studying, Antonius used his problem-solving skills to conclude that the network of the large organization where he worked had been hacked, and that rebuilding the system from scratch was the best solution.

Niels, in Belgium, took a different path. After working in kitchens from a very young age, Neils decided to embark on Networking Academy study. “I have been in love with tweaking computers all my life,” he says. While he found the study challenging at times, with support from the Networking Academy community, he went on to attain CCNA certification. Niels credits the program with giving him the self-belief necessary to start his own penetration testing company.

Four people seated together with open laptops, talking.

Doing more

Obviously, the tech revolution has seen a vast increase in the demand for the sort of hard skills that are the basis of Cisco Networking Academy, and those skills continue to be indispensable.

The World Economic Forum found over 85% of organizations surveyed for the 2023 Future of Jobs Report identified increased adoption of new technologies and broadening digital access as the trends most likely to drive transformation in their organization.

The same report, however, finds that technological literacy is only the third in the list of skills businesses see as growing in importance over the next five years. Creative thinking and analytical thinking rank as numbers one and two, respectively.

Recognizing that technical skills alone are not enough for success in today’s business environment, Networking Academy has recently launched several new courses on our Skills For All platform:

  • Engaging Stakeholders for Success provides essential skills for any professional, regardless of the industry. Learning to effectively engage with stakeholders is a core skill in any workplace. In this course, learners gain the insights and tools to identify, prioritize, and engage with stakeholders for success.
  • Discovering Entrepreneurship offers a solid foundation for anyone interested in developing entrepreneurial skills. The course covers entrepreneurship fundamentals, including the entrepreneurial perspective, identifying opportunities, and crafting an entrepreneurial story.

The big idea

Obviously, no course can teach the entrepreneurs of tomorrow how to have the big idea that drives a new business or industry. But by helping learners recognize that idea and teaching them the analytical and personal skills to make that idea grow, we can help them along that journey.

A problem as simple as being unable to send your partner an email saw the founding of the company that would grow into the Cisco we know today. What’s your big idea?

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