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Who Are VCIs? Meet Three VMware Certified Instructors

Did you know that one of our VMware Certified Instructors (VCIs) starts off every day with yoga? Or that another encourages students to introduce pets or family members if they wander into the background during class? Everyone is experiencing Zoom fatigue these days, and our instructors realize this. They pursue unconventional tactics to keep busy professionals engaged and learning.

I spoke with several VCIs recently to get the low-down on their daily routines and how they approach teaching. This blog will feature three of those talented professionals and the details about their journey in becoming a VCI and why they do what they do.

Before we get into that, a quick reminder of just what a VCI does and is responsible for. After all, if you’re considering a VMware course, you probably want to know you are in good hands.

VCIs lead all the VMware training courses: in-person, both live online and on-demand. Some VCIs are VMware employees; others are contractors. All are experts in their fields. Our instructors meet rigorous, defined criteria, including subject matter expertise, communication and presentation skills, ensuring they can translate their expertise to a diverse audience.

Our goal is to give you the best possible experience as you dive into VMware technology and the associated Learning courses. The qualifications necessary to teach these courses make it clear that each instructor is passionate about what they do. But don’t take my word for it.

Brian Watrous teaches you how to fish (proverbially)

A VMware employee since 2005, Brian is extremely well-versed in everything VMware technology can do. And he’s excited about it.

Brian teaches several different classes, though his favorite technology to teach is vRealize Orchestrator. It’s “an amazing technology,” he told me. “There are things you can do with it to make automation even more powerful and amazing and integrate it tightly to your infrastructure. How do you take the greatest tool in the world and make it even better?”

How do you take the greatest class in the world and make it even better? Signing up to learn from someone like Brian, who prides himself in teaching a man to fish, as the proverb goes. Even before joining VMware, Brian found he was constantly teaching people things, but he didn’t want to stop there.

“I don’t just want to give the answer,” he told me. “I want to arm people with information so they can solve the current problem, but also be self-sufficient.”

Brian also wants to ensure other instructors are self-sufficient. Along with teaching, he helps develop curriculums and gives input to help steer and validate course developers’ approach. And, as a founding member of the VMware Tech Lead team, he is much more than a teacher.

The Tech Lead team has to “handle whatever oddball things need to be done and works on whatever projects come up.” In Brian’s role as team lead, he has seen everything, which makes him ready for anything, even in a classroom setting.

That’s why when pet sounds or family members’ chatter make their way into a hot Zoom mic, Brian encourages students to introduce their furry friends or housemates. Reminding people of their own humanity is how he keeps students engaged.

“Humans are not designed to stare at a screen this long,” he acknowledges. Distractions happen. When they do, Brian just asks that you take care of business and come back when you’re ready, no explanations necessary.

If you’re considering a VMware Learning course, rest assured the instructors like Brian have your career interests, as well as your needs as a human, at heart.

Tim Burkard helps you take a lifelong vacation

They say that if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Tim Burkhard, as he tells it, has “been on vacation for 20 years.”

“I feel that being an instructor is my calling,” he said. He earned a part-time job as an MCSE instructor and, as he told me, “found his calling there working nights,” where he couldn’t wait to get in the classroom.

For 14 years Tim has trained individuals to use various technology platforms. At one point, a fellow instructor suggested that he might teach VMware technology to others. Unfamiliar with vSphere and vCenter, Tim went along anyway. As he took the courses, he realized everything these tools could accomplish and became enthralled.

How does he keep students enthralled? By taking what’s perhaps an uncommon approach in the virtual classroom… Imagine a college professor or someone giving a TED talk while seated, as we commonly are while on video meetings. Without body language and visual cues, it can be challenging to remain engaged, let alone absorb the material.

So, Tim stands and delivers, annotating diagrams on his tablet and flipping through slides that serve as conversation starters. Even while diagraming information, he has the class participants in mind, he’ll often look up to remind everyone he’s still here.

And as for classroom rules, well, there’s just one: ask questions. Why? Tim has a similar teaching philosophy to Brian. “First you’re told how to do it, then you do it, then you show someone else how to do it, then you own it,” he told me. “You’ve really internalized the topic to the point where you can answer the question.”

When you can answer your own questions about VMware tools, using them will no longer feel like work. Once that happens, firing up VMware will be just like going on vacation.

Manish Malik gives you career zen

Manish Malik doesn’t drink coffee. Instead, he begins every day with tea and yoga.

Manish’s calming preparation is for himself, yes; but it is also for you, his students. Teachers and trainers, “do a noble job,” he says, “because you’re helping someone take the next level of opportunity in their careers.”

He is no stranger to taking opportunity. When he first joined his firm (a VMware training partner), Manish wasn’t aware of VMware or what a VCI was. But after his company switched him to the VMware team, he picked up the new technology.

Accepting the opportunity to become a certified instructor, however, was “a long process that was only possible with the help of colleagues, managers and mentors.”

“Learning for yourself is completely different,” he remembers. “Here, you have to deliver [the course material] to others. You have to take questions with different use cases and take preparation to a different level.”

Maybe Manish’s daily yoga routine helps him answer novel questions thoughtfully and prepare like every day is his first course.

No matter the catalyst, when he’s in the classroom, he aspires to deliver his course material “the best every time [I] do it.”

If you’re ready for zen and the art of VMware, sign up for classes today and learn from amazing instructors like Manish and others to help you take the opportunity in front of you.

Take courses from these certified instructors today

This was just a small sample of the amazing team of VCI’s teaching at VMware. Ready to meet these and other great instructors? Sign up for a course and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter as we feature these and more incredibly talented experts.


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