E63 - Danny Wade at NetCraftsmen

George Barnes
Danny Wade

By George Barnes & Danny Wade

For our 63rd episode, George Barnes was joined by Danny Wade, an Engineer at NetCraftsmen. Danny has been working within the Enterprise Networking space for almost 10 years now and is skilled in Cisco Networking, Cisco DNA Center, Python and REST API. Danny discusses what drove him to go into Network Automation and his best advice to anyone who wants to make that transition into Automation.

Danny started as an intern seven years ago having stumbled across the position at a career fair during college. He ended up interning with Under Armour, where they provided a bunch of resources him such as Routing, Switching, Wireless, Firewalls… You name it. He gained great exposure to Networking with them, which hoisted him into the industry.

He ended up finding his niche in Network Automation in 2017. He was doing his day-to-day Network Engineering duties then he started to like the Network Automation piece. He saw at NetCraftsmen that they were a local company to him; he had always heard great things about them, the culture, and the people before that. The interesting part was he started there in the middle of the pandemic and saw there was a title for Network Automation Engineering and that was exactly where his interest lay. So, he applied for the job and that is where he has remained until now.

The transition period was different, and for Danny, there is no real nice way of saying that. It was centred around a different perspective. It took some time to understand that he was now in a professional consulting role whereas 3 weeks ago he was the one asking the consultants for help. He says there’s nothing to be scared about though, you just need to understand the different perspectives. The client you were is now your customer and ultimately, he loves what he does and enjoys being able to wear different hats.

Reflecting back, he would have liked to have researched the different certifications that were out there in the industry. He didn’t gain a lot of exposure to the Cisco certifications. The CCNA for example he had heard about but nothing too in-depth or how it could potentially benefit him greatly if he did it.

From someone who took both a degree and certifications, he is a middleman when it comes to the certs vs. degree debate. He can see both sides. The education side teaches you a lot about discipline and collaboration so going to the classes, studying, and collaborating through group work. It also provides you with exposure to different technology but it’s what you do with it that’ll get you somewhere in the real world; don’t just expect that a degree means you are instantly put into a job. On the other hand, certifications are much more specialised and hands-on. If you’re looking to hit the ground running, certifications will certainly get you there.

Looking back at the things the industry has taught him, 2 things that he learned that he thinks everyone should know is number 1, two of the biggest soft skills he learned were patience and collaboration. Everything may be burning down around you but at the end of the day, you’re the person who has the answer. Make sure you listen to everyone’s feedback because you cannot learn the important soft skills in a book. And number 2, is learning how to deal with a pressure environment and ensuring you don’t mess up, especially in a data centre where you can trip and the whole network goes down.

Looking into the future slightly, Danny will continue with his passion for Network Automation. More specifically refining his software development skills and learning about how Software Engineers do their job. He is currently looking at practices that they’re doing today and how they can implement that into Network Engineering.

If you’re looking to make that transition into Network Automation, make sure you tune in now where Danny gives his best advice into making that jump.