E108 - Robin Johns at Cato Networks12 July, 2023
On our 108th episode of The Route to Networking podcast, our Head of Network Security Zack Mount was joined by Robin Johns, the Training Director at Cato Networks. Robin has had a long career working in technical positions within the Networking space and now he gives back in his current role as an educator in multiple sectors. Robin talks to Zack about how to have a long and successful career and teaches us everything we need to know when it comes to starting a career in the tech space.
Like many others, Robin sort of just fell into IT. Back when he was studying Business Information Systems at Cardiff University, he was very much interested in moving into the world of business. When he finished university, he noticed the starting salary in IT was quite a bit higher than a business analyst, so he decided to explore that avenue. He was working in the realm of defence, and packet analysis and got to see the world. a while after that, he realised he wasn’t getting a work-life balance so decided to jump into something new at Riverbed Technologies.
At Riverbed, he was in a Support role but realised he wasn’t so great at the tech side so leaned into management and ended up leading the technical enablement. Someone on his team at Riverbed moved to Cato Networks and asked him if he could give training tips to his boss at Cato. One thing led to another, and he ended up moving over to Cato.
His transition from techy to leader required a 180 shift from doing all the work to planning and executing the work. He found the things that nobody wanted to do and took ownership of them. When he was at Riverbed, there was a product, not many people were using and took that as an opportunity to delve deeper into that.
Now the Knowledge and Training Director at Cato Networks, his role consists of all product education to their customers, clients etc. All employees’ education so the soft skills, learning development, onboarding etc and then finally community moderation. So, his role is very diverse and it’s something that he shows a huge passion for.
What do you need to know?
When it comes to a career in the Networking world, Robin suggests the two most important things that you need to know before starting. The first would be you need to know how to learn. You need to find your way of learning and what works best for you. Eventually, it’s not about learning things it’s about being able to recite things. Figure out how you input content whether that is visual, written, reading, audio etc. The second thing is simple, you know nothing. The more you learn, the more you will realise you have no idea what’s going on. There will always be people in the industry who know more than you and imposture syndrome is very real. So, being self-aware that you won’t know everything will get you far.
Generalist vs. Specialist?
Specialisation is important but you have to specialise at the right point in your career. When you’re starting, try to be a generalist. Sit with all the teams, absorb all the information, and just learn as much as you can. As you progress in your career, specialise in an area that you love but try to revert from being vendor specific. You will want to have options to fall back on if it comes to it. Focus on an area that interests you and run with it.
Robin shares some great answers in our quick-fire round. Tune in to listen now!