Feature Story

Cisco Innovators: Carl Solder

by Ashley Cirone

carl solder

A leader, an inventor, and an accomplished engineer, Carl Solder shares a glimpse into what makes him tick and his successful career at Cisco.

Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth. Carl Solder, Director of Enterprise Switching at Cisco, can certainly attest to that. While lining up for Space Mountain with his family, Solder received some of the best news of his life: he had been promoted to Distinguished Technical Marketing Engineer (TME).

"I was extremely happy being in the Happiest Place on Earth," said Solder. "I don't think you can get better than that. That was a huge moment in my life."

Currently in a leadership role, and overseeing all of the technical marketing engineers responsible for the Catalyst switching products, Solder did not get to where he is now overnight. He started at Cisco 21 years ago as the first systems engineer in a new, local sales office in Australia.

"When I joined Cisco, I was overwhelmed by the amazing talent that Cisco had in its systems engineers," he said. "My skill set was good, but I really, in my own opinion, paled in comparison to some of the people I had the opportunity to work with back in those days."

At the time, every SE in Australia who had attempted their CCIE had passed it the first time . The pressure was on, and not wanting to break this tradition, Solder passed his CCIE certification on the first attempt during his first year at Cisco.

"I was lucky enough that when I took my test that I did indeed pass the first time, and I maintaned the record that the Cisco SE team had built for Australia," Solder said.

While his accomplishments are many, Solder remains humble about his success. He believes hard work and being at the right place at the right time led to his promotion to Distinguished Technical Marketing Engineer. His work on the Catalyst 6500 switching product also had a very positive impact on his career.

"Being on the Catalyst 6500 team, which I believe was the pinnacle of the switching platforms back then, I was afforded the opportunity to work on a variety of technologies and work with a huge range of customers and SEs," Solder said.

See also: Cisco Innovators: Jyoti Sarin

Solder also feels that good timing influenced his ability to pursue one of his personal passions: sports photography. He holds media credentials at Stanford University and photographs everything from football, to soccer, to swimming.

"I just enjoy life, I enjoy Cisco, I enjoy working with customers, and I love working with technology.""I'll pop down there, take photographs, which I really enjoy, but also get front row seats, in with the players, in with the athletes, photographing the amazing action that happens every weekend," Solder said.

Solder is also a 4th-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and takes some of his leadership skills outside the office to share his passion with the others.

"I enjoy giving back to the community and teaching kids and teens this amazing martial art that I've learned over the years," Solder said.

See also: Cisco Innovators: Tim Szigeti

Fortunately, Solder also remains passionate about the work he does at Cisco. His favorite part of the job is inventing, or finding new solutions to existing problems.

"It could be something as simple as looking at a process that we do, and simplifying it, making life easier for our customers or partners or our SEs," he said. "It's satisfaction in seeing that the work that we do has an impact on people's lives."

Solder says he loves technology, and loves Cisco, which is how he stays inspired to innovate and lead every day.

"I just enjoy life, I enjoy Cisco, I enjoy working with customers, and I love working with technology."