Some people pursue a career in the IT industry because they feel more comfortable working with machines rather than people. And though it’s perfectly fine, that is certainly not the case with our next Extreme Hero who describes himself as a tech geek with people skills. Please meet Miguel Rodriguez from Prodata Systems!
Belgium – one of the most densely populated and urbanized European countries, home of french fries (although the French may argue!) and Robert Cailliau, the co-creator of the World Wide Web. You could probably say that chasing career in the networking industry is a pretty solid option here, isn’t it?
Indeed, the BeNeLux market has a huge demand for network engineers as the supply remains rather limited. But there are two sides to every story. If you look at the opportunities, experienced engineers in Belgium certainly have their pick of jobs. The workload, though, can become quite overwhelming. I guess that one comes with the other so we simply have to live with it.
What pushed you in this direction?
Call it a gut feeling… Ever since I was a teenager, I always had a passion for computers and everything related with IT. I followed my heart and the path led me to the telecommunication engineer grade. Working in the networking industry provided me with a great opportunity to play the man in the middle – connect customers and technology. At one point I joined the network solutions product management team, but I missed the people and playing with the technology so much that I decided to jump back. And I certainly don’t regret this! :)
Do you use public transport frequently?
On a regular basis! I take buses and trams to get to the center of Brussels. The heart of the city is inaccessible by car and I live quite far from it.
We’re asking this because Belgium has an extraordinary, heavily connected network of railways, roads and public transport systems. Sure there’s a lot of business to have for a networking company?
Everyone who comes to Belgium, be it for business or leisure, praises our network of railways, roads and public transport systems, while the Belgians usually... complain about it. So I guess it’s cultural. :) But as far as the business is concerned, there is definitely much to do here. Here at Prodata Systems we are constantly looking for new profiles. It’s not easy to find them so if you have any interesting CVs, send them to us right away (laughs)!
Prodata Systems is a Belgian IT integrator that has been managing complex and business critical environments for many years. The list of your most notable customer stories includes the modernization of Brussel’s Metro network using Extreme Network’s solutions, which we’ve covered thoroughly on our website. What are your thoughts on this project?
The “Mission Critical Network” proved to be a very challenging project for a very demanding customer. The whole thing required the best networking systems out there to drive a huge amount of multicast streams in a simple and manageable way. We came to the conclusion that only Extreme Networks was able to provide the right technical solution for it and we went on to implement it. So it definitely wasn’t just marketing and sales pitch.
Do you have personal preferences in terms of industries you are working with, i.e. Transportation, Healthcare, Enterprise?
Not really, I just love it when the customer recognizes that I was able to help him get better results or make more out of their business, regardless of the industry. Perhaps working for the Healthcare sector does feel more fulfilling personally, as you realize that your work can actually help save lives or help people get better.
You worked for Belgacom, a Belgian telecommunications giant for a considerable amount of time. And after that you decided to work for Prodata Systems. How would you compare these two experiences?
Both experiences turned out to complement each other perfectly. Providing telecommunications services to the customers at Belgacom gave me the chance to see the business “from the other side” and obtain all the much needed skills to understand what drives the business while simultaneously managing people and products. Now I’m helping our customers implement their own, custom networking solutions ranging from LAN/WAN to Wi-Fi. Throughout my career I have willingly taken on different roles and positions to learn as much as I could and become the person I am today.
And who would that be, Miguel?
A specialized non-specialist. A geek with people skills. :)
Do you remember your first memory or impression regarding Extreme Networks? Has anything changed since then? What qualities of the company do you value the most?
I first heard about Extreme Networks around the time when the company took over the networking division of Avaya. I remember there was a lot of promises of integration and evolution and, with the benefit of hindsight, Extreme managed to do that – up to the point where it becomes increasingly difficult to absorb all the products and technologies currently being put on the market. What I like about Extreme the most is the business agility that allows it to provide new features and corrections while constantly delivering top-notch service support.
Not unlike your fellow countryman, Jean-Claude Van Damme, you’re sporting a black belt (perhaps a slightly different type, but still!). What was your journey to the Extreme Hero program like? What made you want to join this club?
It took a lot of passion and a lot of work, but it was an easy choice, really. My idea for joining the community was to build strong networking relationships with other Heroes to exchange knowledge and solutions with each other.
Do you feel like a hero at work sometimes? :)