For Cisco Insider Wouter Hindriks, curiosity and passion for problem solving are keys to success.

Cisco’s advocacy community, Cisco Insider Advocates, brings our customers together and provides a way for them to make powerful connections, expand their professional and personal networks, and learn from top experts in their field. One of our goals with our advocacy community is to deepen our relationships with our customers. Our Q&A series allows us to shine a spotlight on some of our most passionate advocates as we learn more about their stories and backgrounds.

Today, we have one of the friendliest faces in the community joining us for a chat. I’m excited to welcome Wouter Hindriks from .

Welcome, Wouter! It’s so great to chat with you today! Let’s kick things off by learning a little bit about who you are.

I am a 45-year-old security architect living and working in the Netherlands. I am married to Naomi, and we have two children, ages 12 and 16.

Where did you begin your career in IT? And what professional decision or opportunity brought you to your current position?

I started working part-time on an internet help desk when many people were getting online for the first time with dial-up internet access. I had multiple jobs and roles after that and worked in different countries before accepting my current position at , a network integrator and managed services provider.

The threat landscape keeps shifting, with new bad actors, exploits, and attacks on the horizon. As defenders, we need to keep changing with it. Avit Group protects and monitors our customers’ environments for threats and contains incidents before they lead to a disruption. In my role as a security architect, I design our service offerings to ensure we deliver the latest and greatest products and services to keep users and data secure across the globe.

I spend time with customers, colleagues, and Cisco specialists to learn about evolving challenges and proven solutions to help improve our offerings. In addition, through the Cisco Insider Advocates community, I get regular updates from , Cisco’s threat intelligence research organization, as well as insights from my industry peers and other security practitioners worldwide.

What an incredible journey you’ve been on, Wouter. How has partnering with Cisco helped you in your role?

Cisco has played an important role in my career since the beginning; I obtained a Cisco CCNA certification, which really helped my career early on. Working at a telco, you’ll encounter Cisco in the edge and core networks, and then, you’ll be pleased to see Cisco solutions in your data center, site networks, or security setup. The quality of documentation and customer support makes Cisco dependable—both documents and TAC support have saved my day (and night) numerous times!

It’s great to hear how Cisco’s solutions have been instrumental throughout your career! Let’s move on to our customer advocacy community. How would you describe Cisco Insider Advocates to those who aren’t familiar with it?

Cisco Insider Advocates is a global community for technology enthusiasts to connect with one another. New information, interesting articles about Cisco’s products and technologies, and posts from other members are always available. Participating in activities in this community also gives you points to exchange for cool rewards too.

The rewards are definitely a great incentive! You are one of our community’s “Rockstars” and are a part of the “Security Heroes.” What made you want to join, and how has being a part of this community impacted you both professionally and personally?

I joined the community at Cisco Live Berlin in 2017 and was immediately impressed by the sheer scale and variety of activities available. At the event, I was able to make the most of my visit by using the Cisco Insider App, which offered information on the accessible locations and pushed me to explore different parts of Cisco Live.

Then, after the Cisco Live event, I kept coming back to the community for the knowledge, conversations, and valuable opportunities. Being a member of this community has allowed me to help others and quickly connect with other experts in various ICT fields. As a Rockstar, I enjoy exclusive challenges, rewards, and events. By collaborating with community managers and participating in activities, I’ve contributed to blog posts, videos, and even spoken at Cisco Live and security podcasts. This enhanced my writing and speaking abilities and strengthened my personal brand, which helped me stand out to colleagues, customers, and potential employers.

We’d love to hear about your recent experience at Cisco Live 2024 Amsterdam. We understand that you attended with your daughter this year too. How was it sharing Cisco Live with her? On a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest), how would you rate your overall experience this year compared to previous conferences?

Living just 20 minutes from the venue, Cisco Live Amsterdam felt like a home game. It was wonderful showing my daughter around and introducing her to everyone I’ve met over the years. I’d rate my experience a 4.5 this year as I had an Explorer pass, which limited access to technical breakout sessions. Nonetheless, the event was well-organized with good food, many booths, and knowledgeable individuals ready to assist. Interacting with Cisco’s senior leadership this time was really insightful; I was able to have brief conversations with Oliver Tuszik and Jeetu Patel, which enhanced my understanding of Cisco’s vision and allowed me to share my own ideas and challenges.

Through Cisco Insider Advocates, I was also able to meet with the Cisco U team to share my thoughts on a user’s training and educational needs overall and provide feedback on Cisco’s current certifications.

Since 2017, I’ve attended Cisco Live in Berlin, Madrid, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Amsterdam. It’s always a joy to reconnect with friends and meet new people. While the Cisco Insider Advocate activities add excitement to these events, the dedicated lounge for Insiders also provides a relaxing retreat during the busy event, and meeting community members and managers in person is always a treat!

Glad to hear you enjoyed Cisco Live this year, Wouter! As you mentioned, we had tons of exciting activities planned in the Cisco Insider booth and one of them was the opportunity to have a conversation with David Bombal, a British YouTuber and tech influencer. How was your interaction with him, and what topics did you discuss?

It was a delight to have an with David Bombal. We spoke about what it takes to get ahead in IT and what has helped me become a security architect. I emphasized the importance about staying curious, embracing challenges, and learning from every experience while actively participating in the community around you to facilitate growth and learning.

I’m happy for you, Wouter. It sounds like you had a memorable experience at Cisco Live this year. We’re almost at the end of our interview, and we’d love to finish with three things you can’t live without.

Besides the obvious answer: Wife and children? It would be:

  1. New problems to solve
  2. New things to build
  3. New people to meet

It’s been a pleasure to chat with you, Wouter. Thank you again for joining us!

Read more advocate interviews.

You might enjoy this interview with Cisco Insider .

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For our customers who have already joined our community, say hello to Tim if you haven’t met yet. And if you’re a Cisco customer but aren’t a community member, consider joining. You’ll be able to:

  • Connect with peers in a gamified, online community.
  • Have an opportunity to meet with Cisco’s executives.
  • Share your feedback, questions, and best practices.
  • Get access to ‘insider’ content and resources.
  • Grow your professional and personal brand.
  • Amplify your company’s success story with Cisco technology.

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