E10 - Deirra Footman at CCIE by 30

George Barnes
Deirra Footman

By George Barnes & Deirra Footman

On this week’s episode on The Route to Networking, George Barnes, the Director, and Co-Founder at Hamilton Barnes speaks with Deirra Footman, the Founder of CCIE by 30. Deirra talks us through her journey through the networking space and what sparked her interest in the industry.

It all started with her love for computers when she was young, she would love to take stuff apart, and figure out how things worked and considered herself a bit of a ‘science nerd’, so she always saw herself working with computers from a young age. She went to a vocational-technical high school, which meant alongside her everyday academical studies she was able to learn a trade which was Graphic Design.

During her studies, she attended a program where all senior students did a presentation on what they had learnt over their 3 years in their trade classes. A group of kids from the Cisco Network Academy did a presentation and she says: “It never occurred to me that there were people who made the internet work, I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I got all the information I could about it, came home and applied to change my trade to Computer Networking”. It’s interesting, isn’t it? She was in the right place at the right time, which ultimately lead her to where she is today. She is now currently enrolled doing Business and IT management alongside her certifications to ensure she understands the business side of technology as well.

In 2016, she decided to start up her blog called “CCIE by 30”, the meaning behind the name says exactly what it is in the name… to become a CCIE by 30. She started this blog to share things she was studying and wanted to frame it in the mindset of ‘what was I googling that I couldn’t find when I was staring up?’, and what she wanted to know that she couldn’t find on any website or video.

A woman in this industry must be hard right? As it’s predominantly populated by males. Deirra talks us through how she struggled for a while with imposter syndrome. She explains that she was not only the only woman on the team but the youngest too. She was surrounded by experienced, older men, who had all these certs. So, for a while, if anything was brought up that she didn’t understand, she would go home and google in instead of asking for guidance. This is something that she had to overcome.

To be in this ever-evolving and fast-paced industry, there are skills other than just technology that is required from somebody for them to succeed. Coming from someone who has been through it, communication and management skills are crucial to Deirra. Any upcoming networkers, take note!

So, what’s next for Deirra Footman? With her successful blog up and running her Business and IT Management course as well as completing her certifications…She is going to be one busy woman. Deirra says that she will be pivoting her focus to Network Security. She has always had an interest in it, but it’s been a case where if you haven’t done then nobody will hire you, so essentially this is what she will be taking her CCIE in.

With much advice to give, from helping people with her blog to the experience she has gained with her high school course and now university. She shares a piece of advice for people jump-starting their career in the industry… Don’t miss this one! Listen to the podcast here: