June 16, 2009, 1:38 PM —
Monica Cojocneanu (my best friend at Cisco) recently shared the information about some of her work in ferreting out rule breakers who apply for Channel Partner certifications using CCIE numbers of CCIEs who do not actually work for them. Monica and I first linked up to free two CCIEs whose numbers were held hostage by a channel partner in Dubai (http://www.ccieflyer.com/2009-Mar-Attitude-Systems.php). We have since remained in touch as we go through our daily grind in support of CCIEs and Channel Partners. The team whose names I have seems to be Monica, M, and me occasionally doing PI work and acting as CCIE Sleuths. Cool huh!
So I wanted to get some of the work Monica does into the spot light for a bit. Why, because we all seem to have our heads down and working as we shoulder our own grindstones. We seldom get the recognition we often feel we deserve at least occasionally. In Monica’s case this example of her work should help all CCIEs breathe easier. After the recent counterfeit CCIE we smoked out I was contacted via LinkedIn by a recruiter in the UK who feels that this kind of activity lowers the salaries of ethical CCIEs. Maybe she is right and this exercise is helping preserve the value of the investment so many have made in their CCIE certifications.
In Monica's own words:
When the names of 5 CCIEs appeared on a partner new application for Gold certification, the Program Manager had to validate that these CCIEs were eligible to fill those roles. As you know, Eman, the CCIEs have to reside in the country seeking certification. From the very beginning, the Program Manager suspected that the partner was not being completely transparent regarding the country of residency of the CCIEs listed on the application. It was not too difficult to suspect deceit, especially since the CCIEs on the application had Korean names and the partner seeking certification was located in Pakistan.
When the partner was not able to produce the CCIEs’ employment records to satisfy the auditor, an Action Item was issued by the auditor. To close the audit Action Item and obtain the certification, that partner had to provide to the certification manager objective evidence indicating the country of residence for a minimum of four of the CCIEs listed on the application. A few conference calls later, copies of the CCIEs’ utility bills and phone records in Pakistan, along with passport pictures, were produced. The Program Manager had no other choice but to award the certification. Nevertheless, before approving the application, the Program Manager decided to do a Google search on the CCIE names. Their names were found on LinkedIn with resumes indicating current and past employment history. The name of the partner seeking certification was not listed on any of the resumes found.
The Cisco Brand Protection team immediately started an investigation. Three of the CCIEs stated that they had no knowledge that the Partner had listed them on the application. The other two CCIEs indicated they lived in Pakistan and worked for the Partner. However, when the email headers were analyzed, IP addresses indicated they originated in Korea.
Since Cisco certification represents a true differentiator for the partners, it is important to validate all facts and award it only to qualified partners. 30 days after an official notification, Cisco revoked the partner’s registration and the two CCIEs who had misled the Brand Protection investigators lost their certification for life. They did not commit an innocuous error; what they had done was simply unethical. CCIEs represent the highest level of professional certification offered by Cisco, and nothing but highest ethical behavior is expected from them.
I hope this information helps you understand Cisco’s requirements and processes behind this case, the rigor and consistency applied to certification.