Richie Shields, CCIE #43520
I started my Cisco CCIE path about 4 years ago, after being in the field for almost 13. :) When I obtained my "first" CCNA in 2001, I never intended on going to an Expert level certification. If I ever did think about it, it was more of a pipe-dream than anything. After moving around from company to company, I landed an engineering position at a Service Provider and my ideology on getting a CCIE changed. Coworkers around me were studying for various Cisco exams and in conversations with them, I was amazed on how much I had forgotten in those past years or about technologies I never heard of. So I went back to the basics and re-certified my CCNA in 2010. I always had a passion for Security since college and since I was dealing with ASAs/IPSs in my engineering position, I decided to take the Security path and also get my CCNA Security and CCNP Security. After getting my CCNP Security, I still wasn't sure if I wanted take the leap and go for a CCIE. I knew there was a huge time and emotional investment and wasn't even sure it would be worth it. As fate would have it, a few of my fellow coworkers started their studies with INE and got their CCIEs in the R&S world. I guess you can say that this set off a spark that ignited a fire. In speaking with them, I could tell that they were just on a different playing field than most of the other engineers (including myself). I wanted to be on that same level, but in the Security field. I took and passed my CCIE Security written in 2011 and before taking my first attempt, I wanted to attend a training/boot camp. After talking w/ my coworkers and doing my own research, INE was in no doubt the best for preparing CCIE candidates. I am grateful that my company supported my pursuit and they purchased the INE Security Workbooks and the Bootcamp for me to attend. I went through the workbooks and then I took the INE bootcamp. Prior to the bootcamp, Cisco announced they were changing from Version3 to Version4 within months. I had not scheduled my lab yet and I had no idea there would be a "mad rush" to book lab attempts, when Cisco announced lab changes. I was shocked and a little disappointed to see absolutely no open slots when I tried book a slot. A few months later, a slot opened and I debated on whether I should take it. I knew I wasn't quite ready, but I decided to take it and I attempted my first CCIE attempt in 2012. Unfortunately, I didn't pass and there was no further open slots until Version4. Shortly after my attempt, I switched jobs within the company and my wife and I had our first son. Talk about a life changer. As awesome as my little guy is, it's difficult to study with any new born. I was also extremely busy with my new job functions. However, this new position greatly enhanced my memory retention, as my primary role changed primarily to all things related to Security (not just ASAs and IPSs). Instead of just relying what I did at night in a lab, I am now able to apply what I learned in my INE studies and apply it to day-to-day operations and solutions. As every CCIE candidate knows, you study whenever you can. During the day, I was doing my day job, and at night, after the baby and wife went to bed, I would study until about 2-3am. I repeated this cycle for about 6 months. I went though the INE workbooks multiple times. (My old brain would forget the first topics when I reached the end.) Repetition was absolutely key here, as the more times I went through each topic, the better I got with configuring it without looking at the solutions. I was even able to do a few of the new practice labs before my attempt. I can successfully say that I now have my very own CCIE Security #. I have learned so much through INE and this entire CCIE process, that it's by far my greatest accomplishment (besides getting married and having my son of course.). The INE Workbooks and videos have been instrumental in getting certified and I don't believe I would have been able to remotely come close to passing without them. So thanks to INE for making a "pipe-dream" become a reality.