Humility, conviction, self-learning at CaribNOG 18

October 9, 2019


Humility, conviction, self-learning at CaribNOG 18

Nine career insights from NANOG Board Chair Sean Kennedy.

by Brandi Herrera

CaribNOG 2.jpg

An audience of more than 60 exceptional students gathered in Antigua at a recent CaribNOG 18 panel on the Internet, networking, and career opportunities within the growing tech community.

Introduced by Stephen Lee of ArkiTechs, the panel included networking professionals from NANOG, ARIN, ISOC, and ICANN, who shared valuable insights around what it takes to be successful in a tech career — beyond technical expertise alone. Humility was the star of the session, along with conviction, and self learning; all highly important soft skills when it comes to excelling in the industry.

Sean Kennedy, NANOG Board Chair, shared a number of career insights we've been mulling over since the conference wrapped. "Much of the conversation — both students’ questions and panelists’ insights — focused on the internal values regarding education, professional development, and building things to last," says Lee. "At the end of the session, one student referenced Sean’s opening comment regarding humility as the most impactful and valuable takeaway from the discussion. The CaribNOG team agrees wholeheartedly! These are exactly the values that we want to instill in the existing and emergent cadre of Network Operators and IT professionals in the Caribbean Region."


Professional success requires different skills than you need to succeed in school. First is humility. Second is conviction. Third is self-learning.


Understand the importance of humility. Immerse yourself with people that are more advanced, and learn as much as you can.


Learn to listen effectively. If you aren’t willing to listen to others, or to try to understand them, it will hold you back [from success].



Be patient when people ask you questions. You may already know the answer, and can fix the problem in two seconds, but wait for them to tell you what they think the problem is — you may be surprised.


Be willing to ask questions when you don’t understand something. Even if you’re the smartest person in the room, there will still be things you don’t understand. Asking questions and seeking out help will allow you to learn even faster.


If you have a problem that needs to be fixed, call someone in early. Don’t wait until the problem has blown up. If you can’t figure it out in 30 minutes, it’s time to ask someone else for their ideas.


Stay involved throughout the problem-solving process. If you escalate the problem and drop it into a queue for somebody else, or pick up the phone and say “It’s yours,” you’re not going to learn from that experience. And with the additional input, you may be the one to solve the issue.


Be strong in your convictions. Get involved. Trust yourself. And if you fall, get right back up. Finally, don’t let anyone push you around.


Never stop learning. Once you leave school, it’s up to you. There are companies that support and encourage development, but you’ve also got to be able to do that on your own. Make use of the resources available to you, and pursue things that interest you [outside of your field]; it keeps your mind open and more receptive to new ideas.

Interested in learning more? Watch the full panel on the CaribNOG 18 webcast.

All images courtesy of CaribNOG.



Brandi Herrera

Brandi Katherine Herrera is NANOG's Senior Content Strategist.

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