Training using Amazon Web Services Skill Builder: an inside look at Cisco’s cloud skilling

by Training and Certification Blog Editor | on

With more than 80,000 employees and $51 billion in revenue in 2022, Cisco Systems Inc. (Cisco) is one of the largest technology companies in the world. Best known for its networking and communications hardware and software, Cisco helps customers optimize cloud strategy by bringing together networking, security, analytics, and management. Cisco is also an Amazon Web Services (Amazon Web Services) Partner (just as Amazon Web Services is one of Cisco’s Global Strategic Partners ). The Amazon Web Services Partner Network is a global community of companies that use Amazon Web Services programs, expertise, and resources to build, market, and sell customer offerings. In order to keep delivering cloud solutions that meet its customers’ changing needs, Cisco continues to learn and build its own cloud expertise.

Rona Spiegel, director of cloud governance and operations at Cisco , spoke to Amazon Web Services about the organization’s strategy for upskilling its teams on the Amazon Web Services Cloud. With Amazon Web Services Training and Certification —where organizations can learn from Amazon Web Services experts to advance cloud skills and knowledge—Cisco has built an agile training program that meets diverse learning needs at scale. Cisco uses Amazon Web Services Skill Builder for teams , an online, on-demand learning center, to help its employees and partners build in-demand cloud skills.

Rona Spiegel, director of cloud governance and operations at Cisco, shares about the organization’s investment in training its people in cloud.

What drove the need to train Cisco’s employees on Amazon Web Services?

Rona Spiegel: An integral part of Cisco’s DNA is our customer focus. Our solutions help fuel our customers’ success. To support our customers at the highest level, it’s critical that we focus just as much on our people. Investing in our people ensures we bring high-performing, resilient, and secure products to market quickly, and we keep up with the continuous evolution of cloud technology.

Because we have a global, hybrid, and distributed community of cloud practitioners–complemented by an ecosystem of Cisco partners–we needed a learning curriculum that people could access conveniently, and that would serve a range of learning needs, from experience levels, geographic location, and cultural considerations. We also wanted something that would help us continue to foster the diverse learning experience that we thrive on at Cisco. For greatest impact, Amazon Web Services Training and Certification was the ideal choice. Their range of content, systems, expertise, and flexibility offered what we needed to create a program to suit our global talent pool.

What does Cisco’s training program include?

Rona Spiegel: We began our cloud upskilling journey with our internal Discovery Series. The objective was to bring awareness of new services that are available in the cloud. We quickly learned this was also an excellent way to deliver foundational cloud skills to a wide audience in a group format. It also helped us identify commonalities and opportunities to collaborate across all the businesses. It’s been widely successful and is a core program we continue.

Beyond foundational training, we needed to expand to meet the learning needs of employees who wanted more advanced coursework. So, Amazon Web Services Training and Certification helped us design an instructor-led, customized training program for courses like Architecting on Amazon Web Services and DevOps Engineering on Amazon Web Services . This format immersed Cisco employees in hands-on learning around specific requirements, and our teams loved it. Over 460 people completed at least one of the 45 instructor-led classes in 2022. Although instructor-led training is effective, it’s a resource-intensive way to train everyone, so we needed to scale.

So, how did you meet your learning needs at scale?

Rona Spiegel: To achieve greater scale for our employees’ training needs, we utilized Amazon Web Services Skill Builder, and were one of the first beta testers of the new Amazon Web Services Skill Builder Team subscription. It helps us deliver more content to more learners with minimal administrative support.

The digital, self-paced training offered in Amazon Web Services Skill Builder gives our employees what they need, when they need it, to beef up their toolboxes and skills to meet our customers’ needs. We’re in a fast-paced industry that demands the integration of learning and product delivery, so these just-in-time, specific learning opportunities are threaded through and augment our larger curriculum.

Amazon Web Services Skill Builder also gives us flexibility to deliver and reinforce our commitment to hybrid learning and work. We can train even more people, wherever they are with unlimited access to expert-led Amazon Web Services digital training, self-paced labs, learning plans, practice exams, and more.

How does Amazon Web Services Skill Builder help support Cisco’s employees in achieving their career goals?

Rona Spiegel: Cisco is rated by Fortune as one of the best places to work across multiple countries. I believe that’s due in part to our commitment to supporting the career development of our workforce. We encourage everyone to embrace an agile mindset, try new experiences, and acquire skills for the long haul. We are committed to offering our employees opportunities to learn the way that they want.

Using Amazon Web Services Skill Builder, we expose them to new domains and help them get up to speed more quickly. With Amazon Web Services, we have been able to adapt our customized training program for individual and team requirements. We set learning goals for our teams to encourage them to invest in themselves, and they’re motivated to do so. As of 2022, over 1,600 Cisco employees have achieved Amazon Web Services Certifications, and thousands more have received Amazon Web Services Training, including 7,000 in engineering alone.

We find that when people feel engaged and fulfilled in their work, they stay longer and produce more innovative results, benefiting Cisco, our partners, and our customers. Focusing on our people has cultivated a more resilient workforce and contributed to our organization’s agility.

screenshot of video taken during AWS re:Invent 2022 of Rona Spiegel presenting

Rona Spiegel of Cisco presenting at Amazon Web Services re:Invent 2022, “Prioritize people: 4 strategies that make or break migrations & beyond”