E3 - Lidia Vasileva at VMware11 July, 2023
On the third episode of our Women in Networking spin-off series, Maddy Norris was joined by Lidia Vasileva, a Solutions Engineer at VMware. With a background in Network Engineering, she is currently specialising in Software Defined Networking and Data Centre technologies. Lidia is also a member of the Pre-Sales Collective, a content creator, and a mentor to the community.
During the episode, Lidia talks to Maddy about her path into the industry including her transition into Pre-Sales. We learn about what some of the key skills clients look for when hiring as well as what traits make a good leader.
As a child, she was never one to take apart their computer like many other Network Engineers. It was never a career direction she thought she was ever going to take. When she graduated from high school, she found herself in a gap year and was desperately trying to find a job. She applied for a marketing degree but had no luck and eventually decided to attend a university open house event. She had a look around the IT specialist section and crossed paths with an elderly guy, whom she describes as having a moustache with yellow tinges from cigarette smoke and looking like Santa Clause. Within 10 minutes of speaking to him, she walked out of there thinking she was going to become a Network Engineer and immediately applied for the course as soon as she got home. His name was Peter Thompson, who later became her university lecturer.
Through her course, she took on an internship where she joined the technical team. Because it was such a small team, they did pretty much everything. From Pre-Sales, talking to customers, going through data sheets, and doing a lot of pre-staging, which required preparing the devices, testing them out and making sure they all worked okay. A big part of her role was support and escalation. She had to do a lot of troubleshooting and support Juniper.
She spent almost 2 years there before the dreaded pandemic where everyone was required to work from home. She studied a lot for her certifications and ended up getting 3 or 4 certifications during that period. As that was all happening, she was approached by a recruiter from VMware. She was a template of what they were looking for, so she accepted the role and had no idea what Pre-Sales was. She was questioning herself and struggled a lot with imposter syndrome, asking the typical questions of Am I where I’m supposed to be?
3 key traits Lidia thinks you should have if you want to become a Sales Engineer is to, first of all, be a good listener. You need to understand what the customers are going through and listen to their needs. Another is to have clear communication which slightly overlaps with being a good listener. And finally, you have to find some sort of passion for technology and want to be out there and talk about it.
Lidia is part of many platforms which have helped her throughout her journey. From a Networking perspective, she recommends joining a discord channel. There are so many specialised channels for different areas of the Network. The Art of Network Engineering podcast is also great for anyone who prefers to listen. When she was doing her CCNA, she joined Keith Barkers’ discord. It’s great if you’re just getting into Networking.
Lidia shares some great advice that I think people not even from the Networking industry could take from it. Make sure you tune in now to hear what she says!