Feature Story

Cisco Innovators: Shawn Wargo

by Liza Meak

Pride and passion help drive this principal engineer.

Pride and passion help drive this principal engineer.

As a Principal Engineer for Cisco's next generation hardware and software products, Shawn Wargo believes in the three P's. Patience, perseverance and passion. The first two come as part of his job, but the third comes from within him. "When I take on a project, it's usually something that I'm passionate about," Wargo says. "I feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction from seeing the product be as good as it can be."

Wargo started working at Cisco in 1999, so he's seen plenty of projects take shape and has had many different roles at the company.  "I started in the Technical Assistance Center which I think is a wonderful starting point because it shaped my whole vision of how to interact with a network and interact with people," Wargo says. That's where patience fits in. "It's a very high stress environment. Obviously the customers are angry by the time they call you but I did love that interaction with the customers."

From there, Wargo moved deeper into Engineering, working on development and testing, persevering through many different launches and redesigns. That role helped Wargo learn all about the products, but he missed interacting with customers.

"I joined technical marketing to have more balance between inward focus and outward focus," Wargo says. For him, this role is as close to a dream job as he can imagine. "It is the best of both worlds. Everything is difficult. We're always under some crazy deadlines, but this is a very satisfying job."

See also: Cisco Innovators: Dave Zacks

Wargo prides himself on being part of a team responsible for a major part of Cisco's business. "Watching enterprise networking, particularly enterprise switching grow into what is now a $20 billion-dollar annual business, I think that's a huge accomplishment." 

Wargo remains humble about his own accomplishments, which includes being named a Principal Engineer two years ago.  With some prodding, he acknowledges he's part of an elite group of principal engineers. "It is a very rigorous process and it's very selective," Wargo says. "I think there are five or six principal engineers within technical marketing."

He describes himself as a reluctant leader, but realizes others notice the personal pride he takes in his work. "If my name's on it, it's going to be as close to perfect as it can be." Often times that perfection can be seen on stage at his many Cisco Live presentations, which he says is too many to count. Wargo may have lost count of his presentations, but the quality of those presentations put him in an elite group of Distinguished Speakers at Cisco Live, something that's awarded to only the top 10% of presenters.

And that leads us back to the third P, Wargo's passion for his company. "I'm very passionate about Cisco. I'm one of the guys that walks around with a Cisco shirt because I love Cisco." 


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