vExpert award and how it advanced my career

In the beginning

I started with virtualization back in 2007 when Virtual Infrastructure 3.5 was released. During that time I also came across bloggers like Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman. I read everything they wrote about virtualization and it helped me to understand how it works. During that time in my career I did everything, network, security, mailing, database, storage, server, Windows and Linux. One of the benefits was that I had a general overview of every piece which connects to virtualization. Unfortunately I didn’t had a deep knowledge of all this things.

The early years

In 2009 I moved to a bigger VMware Partner as a Systems Engineer in the System Management and Virtualization team. Systems Engineers here in Austria are similar to consultants in other US companies. They are no pre-sales people, they are hands-on people and implementing stuff at the customer side. This was the first time in my career I had a managed laptop and no access to the internal network. In my old company I was Systems Engineer and internal Administrator. You can imagine how confusing it was not to do everything you want.

It was also the first time I worked in a specific team. I was “just” responsible for VMware, some XenServer/Marathon stuff and Veeam. Other teams did the hardware or storage or Exchange installation. My learning curve went through the roof during that time because of my co-workers. They were experts in their fields and I learned a lot from them. I also learned more and more about virtualization and got a deeper knowledge how everything was working together.

The first time I heard about the vExpert award was during 2010 and that only a few people earned it. I was very eager to understand what it was and how to earn it. Unfortunately the bar for vExpert at this time was to high for me. I was no blogger, had no idea how to help people or get involved and I had no time for it. In 2010 I also attended my first vSphere ICM (Install, Configure and Manage) course and earned my first VCP.

The next 2 years I was working really hard and got some visibility in the Austrian VMware community. Thanks to Matthias Eisner who always pushed me to do a VCAP and believed in me, I earned my first two VCAPs in 2012. At the beginning of 2012 I decided to go for the vExpert award. So I created a Twitter account and started my own blog. In retrospect it is really funny that I started my blog just to become vExpert. 🙂  I tried to create some interesting blog post during the year but unfortunately it was harder than I expected. Nevertheless I applied for vExpert 2013 but was immediate rejected.

The expert years

In 2013 I moved to another big VMware Partner as a System Consultant for VMware here in Austria. This was the first time where I saw that my hard work and drive during the last couple of years paid off. I became an expert in virtualization, had some cool certification which showed my knowledge and was running my own blog. All of this made this position possible. I also had again the vExpert award on my bucket list and during 2013 I came across a lot of cool things and problems which made great posts. I also got more and more engaged in Twitter conversations with other virtualization experts and made new friends virtually.

One of my eye-opener was during VMworld in 2013 where Mikko Nykyri came to me (I didn’t know him at that time) and ask “You’re Fred vBrain right”. Now that was one of the coolest things in my life, to know that someone is really reading my blog and know who I am. At the end of 2013 I applied again for vExpert and I was more comfortable this time. And on April 10th, 2014 I received the long-awaited e-mail from Corey Romero with the subject “Welcome to the 2014 vExpert Program!“. You can’t imagine how happy I was when I read this lines. That meant that all the work I’ve done so far, all the late night blog posts I wrote, finally paid off.

Getting the vExpert award wasn’t an easy task but keeping it is much more difficult as you might think because you need to keep up your hard work. I not only received my first vExpert award in 2014 but I also joined VMware as a Technical Account manager. You can read the story behind it here

Conclusion

After coming so far reading my story some of you might think “And what does this have to do with the vExpert award and how helped this award my career?” Confucius once said “The journey is its own reward” and he was right. My desire and my drive to become vExpert made me work harder, gain knowledge, interact and connect with other people. Here is a quick example how my connection helped me.

During my interview with 2 VMware managers they ask me “So how would you start your day as a TAM?”. I thought ok weird but maybe this is some sort of role-play to test my abilities. I replied with “I would start with some coffee and checking mails if anything important was coming in”. One of the managers went on, “Ok a customer is calling you that their production is down and they need immediate help”. I took a quick break and answered “Ok I will call Frank Büchsel he will fix this”. Both managers looked at each other and start laughing and answering “Ok and what will you do now with all your spare time?”. The funny thing was that one of the managers was in GSS before and knew Frank. This conversation broke the ice and we had a really good interview afterwards.

I hope this story of mine was interesting and some people who read this will also get their drive and their strive to achieve their goals.

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