Show 11 – If You Can’t Be Replaced, You Can’t Be Promoted

This week we’re joined by Aaron Conaway of ‘Aaron’s worthless Words’ fame, while we did our usual chit chat about a few things, the main subject was a conversation about career progression.

Networking Career progression

So many people are stuck in jobs they get nothing out of anymore, or don’t see a way out of, that we started looking at how you get promoted, when do you move, and how important are certifications in your career.

The only problem, is we ran out of time long before we’d finished, so we’re going to take off where we started next week! We’d love to hear your experiences, hints and tips on career progression, and we’ll get them into next weeks show.

Cisco IOS Educational Licensing

We also talked about Greg’s Petition for Cisco IOS Educational Licensing , which came out of Wendell Odom’s article on the possibility of educational licensing for IOS. This would be a huge benefit to all those out there studying and building labs, and could only be a plus for Cisco. Please go to and signup asap!

Audience Involvement

We have achieved one thousand downloads of the last episode and we think thats pretty great. But don’t let that stop you from telling your workmates, study classmates that we exist. More is just more.

Fact of the Week

We want you to send us a “Fact of the Week”. Every engineer has one trick, or one little fact that needs to be shared. So email your tip, trick or fact to packetpushers –at– gmail –dot– com.

IEEE is using Software Patents

IEEE Supports Software Patents – IEEE is not transparent, doesn’t answer to the community only it’s paid up members who are large vendors competing and fighting for market position. Now it wants software patents for technology that it shouldn’t own.


An interesting varient on the wireshark idea is a new service where you can upload your dumps via number of methods to Cloudshark, who will analyze and give you a wireshart-like output on the web. Handy for sharing, or when you can’t easily send the dump back to yourself. But what about the confidentiality aspects?

The Gestalt IT Tech Field Day

Ethan is off to the Gestalt IT Tech Field day in Seattle this week. We’re a big supporter of the Tech Field Days, as it’s a great way of getting the information that people want from big vendors out there, a lot more clearly than you ever do from your rep or reseller. In fact we’re such big fans of the concept, that we had a special announcement about the first PacketPushers Network tech field day to be held later this year. We’re all really excited about this (especially Greg)! More details to follow!

If you enjoy the show, please take a moment to write a review on iTunes.  Help spread the word, and thanks!

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Greg Ferro
Greg Ferro is a Network Engineer/Architect, mostly focussed on Data Centre, Security Infrastructure, and recently Virtualization. He has over 20 years in IT, in wide range of employers working as a freelance consultant including Finance, Service Providers and Online Companies. He is CCIE#6920 and has a few ideas about the world, but not enough to really count. He is a host on the Packet Pushers Podcast, blogger at and on Twitter @etherealmind and Google Plus.
Greg Ferro
Greg Ferro
Greg Ferro
Greg Ferro

Latest posts by Greg Ferro (see all)

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  • Dave

    Great show and fantastic podcast! The entire career progression segment was pretty interesting. I am just starting out in the world of IT… It is extremely interesting to hear how you and your panel have ended up where they are now. Keep up the great work!

  • James D

    So i'm sat hear listening to episode 11 whilst doing a ROUTE lab on Dynamips and I agree completely with almost everything you guys have said, and felt i should share my story of someone who has very recently entered the networking industry.

    I started in the networking industry with an Avaya VOIP reseller last year straight out of university. At the time all of our data networking was outsourced to another company and we were clearly missing the boat on something seeing as we delivered voice over IP. I saw an opportunity and studied & completed my CCNA, CCDA, Extreme network specialist certification, and started CCNP R & S. I got to a point where i was craving knowledge and needed more experience. I looked for a new job, got a job with a Cisco Gold Partner in London and then told my current company i was leaving. My MD pulled me to the side on the same day and told me in no uncertain terms that if I was willing to stay, i could be responsible for taking on all data networking projects both in design and implementation, and for building the companies skillset in networking to a level where we could potentially take on all support as well.

    So i gave it a shot, and 4 months down the line i am currently responsible for designing and implementing a 1000 branch voip solution which is being deployed this week, design/implementation of a 500 user voice ready LAN, a SIP SBC failover design between 2 datacentres for one of the largest betting houses in the UK and some other small scale SMB LANS. I liase with multiple SP's and hosting companies across the world and am providing training for our tier 1 and tier 2 guys on networking.

    I have always been the only resource in my company with enough networking knowledge to offer advice and design on networking projects, which has left me in an incredible position for a grad with only 1 year experience. I have alot of self motivation and have always tried to read and lab as much as possible, most of which occur in my own time.

    The only regret I have with not taking the job with the Cisco Gold Partner is with not having anyone to learn from in my company, which is hugely frustrating, but at the same time has forced me to read and study as much as possible to fill this gap.

    The above story kind of goes against the title of this weeks podcast as i couldnt be replaced, but still managed to get promoted and get into a position that i didnt think i could attain for another 5 years down the line. I guess i am one of the lucky ones!

    Anyways, just thought I share this story with you guys.

    Love your podcasts by the way – keep them coming.



    • Ethan Banks

      I picked up on where you said "not having anyone to learn from in my company, which is hugely frustrating". I have run into that same issue. The opportunity to be mentored has generally been a rare one, although I had some great guys I worked with at a VAR early in my career. The mentors can be a two-edged sword in that they will sharpen you up quickly if you listen well and are adept. OTOH, the brainiacs can as easily humiliate your inexperience and technical screw-ups if they are egomaniacs. But for the most part, those mentors are going to help you, if for no other reason, because it helps THEM to have a reliable, deeply technical resource learning alongside.

      Stepping away from the VAR space and moving into enterprise, and there is usually only room for a single rock star, maybe two. Depending on size, the enterprise probably only is going to cough up the attractive compensation package for a single technical thought leader in each group. You end up with the hot shot DBA, the gee-whiz storage guy, the architect sysadmin, and a wizard packet pusher. They are the technical team leads, and their minions line up behind their way of doing things.

      So – if YOU are the hot shot gee whiz architect wizard, who's your mentor? Exactly. No one. You read, you study, you work with support on the really hard problems, and you document well to keep yourself as deep as you need to be to act as a mentor for everyone else. Heaven help you if you take a vacation. Frustrating? Indeed, because there's little to sanity check you if you're going in a bad direction. You only see the world from your own perspective, and therefore tend to solve problems in the same way every time, even if alternate solutions are equally viable or even better.

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  • Grant

    Really great epp. You did a wonderful job covering some really good points (what certifications really mean) in such a way that even non-technical people can understand.

    I think this epp has probably been one of the best yet.

    Thank you and keep up the good work.

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  • Aaron Willette

    I really appreciate the work you guys have put into producing such a high-quality podcast. The career development advice you gave is priceless.

    I'm working for a Fortune 50 company as an associate network engineer and am really pushing myself complete the three CCNP exams. Like many CCIEs before me, I'm posting my notes online at I'm really taking my time trying to thoroughly understand the fundamentals before moving on/testing.

    Thanks again and keep up the good work!

    • Ethan Banks

      "Thoroughly understand the fundamentals" – absolutely true…even more valuable than passing the test. For example, I'd say 1 engineer in 20 can explain what spanning-tree does when you introduce a loop into a topology. Knowing what a command actually does is so important, especially when it comes to troubleshooting, architecture, and interoperability.

  • inSecure

    Don't you have link to all the podcasts?! Maybe a Archive?! Come on ppl, i have to search the whole website to get the 1st, 2nd, 3rd episode? Post a link to all the Podcasts (Maybe an archive, or Links to all the posts?

    • Ethan Banks

      inSecure, you're troubled and angry. I sense desperation in your voice. Frustration. The bitter anxiety of a man disappointed beyond what is reasonable. Put the gun down. Don't take matters into your own hands. It's not worth it. Think of your family, your friends…the packets that would be flowing across your network without your care and compassion to guide them.

      For you, I offer a solution. Look in the right column, near the top. You'll see a freshly minted "Show Archives" section. You can click on "Podcast Post" to see everything, "Runts" to see the mini shows, or "Weekly Shows" to get just the main shows we record each week. This should help feed your Packet Pushers addiction a bit more readily.

      I hope the shaking subsides soon. 😉

    • Greg Ferro

      Use a podcatcher such as iTunes or Gpodder. I've got better things to do than make lists of files for you to download.

  • inSecure

    :)) Nice replies. The show acrhive was not there, or i couldn't see it the last time i was here:)). No frustration, just peace and quite now.

    " I’ve got better things to do than make lists of files for you to download." Really ugly reply. Go get laid man.