E30 - Christopher Sigley at Wisper Internet03 July, 2023
On our 30th episode of The Route to Networking, Harry Stephenson had the pleasure of being joined by Christopher Sigley, the Chief Technology Officer at Wisper Internet. Christopher discusses the start in his career, certs vs. degrees and an average day as a CTO.
Christopher started his career as a Data Engineer back in 2006 working on Networks, Routing & Switching and started on Juniper. Since then, he learned Cisco at Tier 2 Windstream and got into management through his desire to always want to lead.
He moved to Frontier to help with an acquisition they were doing and continued his career there. During his time, he created standards that made financial sense but also built the best network. He says, ‘You can always build the best network, but you can’t always afford it, so it’s got to find the best network with the money you have’.
Whilst working in the industry, he’s seen peers of his that’ll only hire someone with a certain type of degree. Other managers, more like him, hardly ever look at education. If he’s looking for someone with 5 years of experience, he cares more about what you did in the last 5 years than what you did 7 years ago in college, but it definitely shows a piece of the puzzle too. His suggestion to everyone is to focus more on the way that you learn rather than what you think the hiring manager is going to want, it’ll set you up for success. Some like to read, some like to be audible, some like to go fast pace, and some like a lot of structure, if you go into the system, you learn it’ll be the best for you.
Coming from a man who’s done both a degree and certifications, he says they have supported him in different ways. He learned a lot in college that has changed the way that he works and his personality but wouldn’t say it was a requirement. Certifications helped him in the sense of getting very targeted on what he wanted to do and learn. He wouldn’t say one or the other as they helped at different parts of his life and helped shape him, his approach to attacking things and being well-rounded.
At Wisper Internet, they are currently working on a huge program ahead of them which is changing every day. One day it could be a logistical challenge and fighting a lot of inventory. On other days they’re doing a lot of talent construction and putting equipment up on communication towers.
Some of the daily challenges he’s currently facing is being able to adapt quickly to problems. Anytime on the job, there are going to be problems that arise, not get bogged down in problems but focus on how to fix them and make sure it’s a long-term fix. Also trying to pivot and jump between different departments and keep up with the latest technologies.
With daily challenges, there come potential disasters. One of the biggest Networking challenges he’s faced was a helpless situation where he couldn’t actually do anything about it. He was working as an Engineer for Windstream. One day someone was drilling in downtown Atlanta, and they not only drilled through all the fibre cables, but they also drilled through the sewage pipe below it. This led to an even bigger problem of having to organise all the sewage being cleaned up first, then getting the pipe fixed and then finally being able to get to the cables to fix them!
Christopher shares some advice that he would give to his 16-year-old self and it’ll be useful to any young aspiring Network Engineers to listen, and make sure you tune in!