3 questions to: Piotr Kupisiewicz, Senior Security Architect
Welcome to our new series of blog posts called “3 questions to…” where we ask Cisco Poland employees three questions about their work experience, passions, and every day’s motivators.
Today we would like to introduce you to one of Cisco Krakow’s very first employees – Senior Security Architect Piotr Kupisiewicz who shares how he started his career in security, how he helps drive innovation at Cisco, and what motivates him at work. Take a look!
Piotr, how did you end up in Cisco, what were you doing before and what do you do now?
My career began around 30 years ago when I was a little 4-year-old boy who just got Commodore 64 from my father. I recall that this was the moment when I decided that I would like to work in the technical field and on that day, I made myself one of those lucky people who knew exactly what I will be doing in the future. Since then, I consequently moved forward to make the dream come true. Finishing a Computer Science degree at the Silesian University of Technology was a big step; but the truth is that it didn’t change much in terms of what I wanted to do. Just after the university, I worked in an automotive company where my main tasks were related to optimizing automotive production processes. I was also one of the first people who were working on bringing up the Lean Manufacturing methodology introduced by Toyota.
After around 6 years of being a software developer, I started looking for new challenges and that is when I read in a newspaper about the newly created Cisco Office in Kraków. It was 2012 and I had some knowledge of Enterprise Networking (CCNA), with a basic understanding of Cyber Security. It wasn’t much longer when I joined 47 engineers who created the very first Cisco Krakow team. I joined the Security team which back then was only 14 engineers. I focused mostly on VPN technology, which resulted in becoming a Team Leader and a Technical Leader for the KRK VPN team in less than 5 years! During this time, I wasn’t working only on cases, but I also worked on improving the quality of Cisco solutions and products, automation (creating BDB and BORG tools), serviceability of major security platforms, mentoring early in career people, and many more!
Then, in March of 2020, I became Chief Technology Officer for the security department. I’ve been a technical advisor to Anna Barker (senior director responsible for the whole security team in Krakow). In this position, I’ve been helping the leadership team to look at our strategy and plan from a technology perspective. I’ve been making sure that we are ready for what is ahead of us in terms of technology. For example, capital Cloud and Security has become a hot topic so I was advising that more and more of our engineers should have proper training plan including Google Cloud Platform, AWS or AZURE trainings. Additionally, majority of security innovation ideas in Europe are consulted with me so I can give my advice and share my experience after so many years of innovating in Cisco.
Can you give some examples of how you help drive innovation at Cisco in your current role?
Today, my job as Security Architect is basically all about seeking and implementing innovations. I have more time for that now. Before, I was basically creating network designs or security-related network designs for our customers. Today I’m working on changing the way our professional services and our support organization inside of Cisco work.
There are 2 types of innovations I’m engaged in: the first one is about internal innovations which are about delivering efficiency, simplification, and optimization of the way our engineers in the company work. The second one is externally facing and is related to offers we are providing to our customers. Nowadays almost all customers are migrating to cloud technology and my goal is to help identify and eliminate gaps in this area.
I really enjoy both internal and external innovation, although they are completely different. For instance, when I’m working on external offers, I need to constantly understand market trends and where the world is moving, what’s going on in the Cybersecurity field, what challenges our customers have, especially nowadays, when everybody is working from home, and especially from a cybersecurity angle which is my domain of expertise. For me, it’s always super interesting and challenging.
Regarding internal innovation, I’ve been an engineer for many years, that is why I find a lot of joy in solving the tasks concerning how to make the work easier and more efficient for other engineers and constantly working on seeking new improvements and how to bring them to reality. It feels like building a small company inside a big company. That is maybe what is unique in what I’m doing. I’m able to create a small startup inside a company as big as Cisco is. And we really work independently from the rest of the organization and this is an example of the trust we have from our leadership to spend time and resources on things we sincerely love to do. So, as you can notice, we have a lot of independence and I wish everybody could have an innovative environment like the one at Cisco.
What keeps you motivated working at Cisco?
It took me many years to find out that the thing that keeps me motivated are people that I work with. This opportunity to work with new and very knowledgeable coworkers pushes me to change environments. Recent example is working with Solution Architects with 20+ years of experience who can advise the Customer which technology would be better to use based on his requirements.
Believe me, this is not a trivial task! I love to surround myself with people like that to see how much more I still have to learn. There are times that you feel like you know so much that nothing can surprise you and there is nothing else to learn. Remember that this is not true! You are working on a small piece of the technology and there will always be things to learn and things that you don’t know, and this is great.
This is also what I like the most about Cisco: the fact that people are easy to approach and even though we are a big company we can call almost anyone.
Another thing which I can point out as the main reason to stay with Cisco is the fact that we can easily move between different teams and technologies which gives you the feeling that over the course of few years you have been working for several different companies.
3 questions asked: Dorota Świech, Misha Khokhlov.Tags: