Systems engineer

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Name: Lachlan
Age: Early 30s
Works for: Cisco Systems

"The people who ultimately make it are the ones who understand how things work, who are prepared to figure things out for themselves. As I say, Google is your friend. Go off and discover."

When he’s not working, Lachlan loves to fly-fish. Lachlan also plays touch rugby and indoor soccer. His musical tastes have moved on from the ‘angry uni student days’ of Nirvana and Pearl Jam with Lachlan now pumping up the volume to Brit electronica beats like New Order and The Prodigy. Lachlan says his greatest ability is to communicate with anyone, no matter who they may be.

Tell us what you do for work Lachlan

I’m a Systems Engineer for Cisco®, the world’s leading manufacturer of networking equipment worldwide. I talk to our clients about solutions for their companies. With a technical focus in Security, I mainly service universities and government departments, protecting companies from Internet or internal attacks.

What does your job entail on a day-to-day basis?

Many things make up my day. There is the odd time that I sit in front of the computer all day but it’s rare. Most of the time I’m on the road, out talking to people or having meetings. I have some long days. I do everything I need to do to get the job done. That said, if I need to spend a day at home for whatever reason I can easily work from home, or anywhere in the world for that matter. All I need to function is my phone, a desk and broadband.

What do you like about your job?

I’m the kind of person who needs to be constantly challenged. Cisco is a place where the bar is always being raised. I’m working with a very, very clever bunch of people. I’ve been with Cisco for two years and intend to stay. I get to be involved with very large projects. There are tough customers, big networks and big requirements, but it’s great fun. And Cisco pays well too.

ICT. Where did it all begin for you?

I’ve always been interested in electronics. In Grade 3 all I could do was pester my parents to get a computer for home! By Grade 4 I’d taught myself how to program. I still do a bit of programming, even now. It’s a very interesting way of thinking. I love problem solving.

After school I studied Electrical Engineering, majoring in Communications and Electronics at Swinburne University. As part of the course I worked at BHP for a year. That was kind of cool. It was interesting stuff. I graduated from the course with Honours. ICT was emerging and I could see that there was good money to be made within the industry, so I got into it. It’s been the best choice I’ve ever made.

I set a long-term goal to work for Cisco, as I was interested in their area of work. I kept in contact with people I knew within the company and basically refused to go away until they gave me a job!

Is your job always changing?

Technology never stops. Go to sleep one day, wake up the next and it’s all different. You have to keep up. Things we are doing today weren’t even dreamed about two or three years ago.

Is the money good?

Yes. At the moment the market is hot for people with ICT skills, but you also need to be able to communicate well. The most successful ICT engineers are the ones who can solve problems but who are also good in front of the customer.

Where do you see yourself going next?

There are so many things I could do, so many directions I could take. My future will be driven by what happens around me, what opportunities arrive internally within Cisco.

One of the good things about being with a big corporation is that it would be easy for me to work overseas for the company, but then again there’s a lot going on here in Melbourne and Australia as a whole. The world is my oyster right now.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in ICT?

Figure out what your passion is, what it is that you’re really interested in doing. If ICT is it, then dig deeper. Go to the unis, speak to people, find out more.

A strong university background helps but the people who ultimately make it are the ones who want to understand how things work, who are prepared to figure things out for themselves. Google is your friend. Go off and discover.

Don’t expect the big bucks just to land in your lap on day one. You’ve got to be prepared to put in some hard work and long hours. But it’s not forever. If you do the hard yards the rewards are definitely there. There are huge opportunities in ICT.

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).