I recently got mentioned in a conversation on twitter where some statements were made about the need for companies to make an effort to retain their VCDXs if they didn’t want them to go where they were valued more.
This comment (while made with the best of intentions) resonated with me for all of the wrong reasons. Allow me to explain, and I’ll make a few generalisations of my own along the way which you can crucify me for in the comments if you so desire.
1. There is far more to being a valuable employee than the certifications you hold
A certification is great for any number of reasons. It allows you to flex your brain, become introduced to new concepts and build out your professional network. It is however, quite specific in nature. There are no certifications (as far as I know) that validate your capability to present. To work well with, or lead others. To inspire, to contribute, to engage, to care, to be a decent human being. To show that you understand principles or the financial models involved with IT strategy.
I’ve had the privelege to work with some of the Principal Engineers in VMware. A lot of them don’t hold their VCDX. A lot of them don’t even have a VCAP, but you know what? The value they bring is demonstrated by their contributions (more on this one later), not on their certifications. On their experience, not on how many exams they pass.
2. Be an adult
If you didn’t do this before you began your VCDX journey then you’re crazy. Talk with your boss about building out a solid development/career progression plan. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in an organisation where there is nowhere to go, and that’s tricky to deal with. If that’s not the case, then demonstrate the same perseverance and dedication that you’ve used in obtaining your VCDX and write yourself a “career blueprint”. Yeah, just like the one you used when prepping for your VMware certs. One that explains what capabilities you need to demonstrate in order to be ready for a particular role. One that identifies the pre-requisites that you need to complete before you could consider it. Put some realistic timelines against it. While not displayed by all VCDXs there is definitely an undercurrent of entitlement that is really beginning to leave a bad taste in my mouth.
3. Dude, seriously? You passed a documented exam process
I passed the VCAP-CID earlier this year. Do you know how many vCloud Director designs I’ve completed that have been put into production? None.
How many designs do you have that are VCDX submission quality, or able to be made into submission quality? One? Wait, you’re submitting a 100% fictional design? I applaud your dedication, but question that you’re a design expert if you could not put your hands on more than five projects for which you were the design lead. Not only do we have Blueprints that tell you what you need to know, we also have mentor programs. While the actual panel process hasn’t changed, the sheer amount of preparation material out there has made this process much simpler, and allowed for people who have minimal architecture experience to begin their VCDX journey.
Being able to justify your design decisions based on rote learning is one thing – understanding how a technology works and then how to apply that to many different scenarios is a whole different ball game. If you’re able to defend your design well, but crapped out on the design scenario and/or the troubleshooting then I’m talking to you. Go beyond the “what”. If you understand the “how” then you will be able to respond with “why” in any given situation.
4. If you want to be valued, do something valuable
This is the most important concept for you to get your head around.
How is you having a VCDX going to provide value to your place of employment? Will it increase revenue? Will your personal brand be used to augment the brand of your organisation? Will it provide greater credibility when dealing with larger customers?
Remember something – you are the same person, with the same knowledge and capabilities on the day you receive your VCDX as your were yesterday. You don’t inherently become more capable or useful now that you can add four letters and a number to your email signature.
If you want to be valued, find a way to contribute. Foster good morale, build cross team relationships. Share information that you find that you think others may be interested in or need to know. Talk to your boss about some stretch projects. Build something…. That’s simply from an internal persective. While there is no “Ph D in VMware Tech”, you can still provide a contribution of value back to the wider community. The VCDXs I know by name are few. As we approach #200 I could probably name 20 who provide a visible external contribution, and aren’t doing it purely for self promotion. The difference between contribution and self promotion? Open communication and dialog, a willingness to consider alternative opinions and a desire to educate, rather than convert (but that’s a whole other topic!).
Thanks for reading!