After Maria Del Pilar Munoz won the first NetRiders competition in Colombia, she secured a position as a Cisco consulting systems engineer.
Choosing a Career Path
Maria Del Pilar Munoz was pursuing majors in both computer science and electronics at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia when she received some advice from her dean. “He asked me why I was studying two majors and what my interest was in each one,” she recalls. “After a long talk, we concluded that I was more devoted to computer science and the most interesting part of electronics for me was networking. He recommended enrolling in the Cisco Networking Academy program and focusing on computer sciences for my undergraduate studies.”
Demonstrating the Skills to Succeed
Munoz excelled in her courses and quickly earned her Cisco CCNA and CCNP certifications. One of her most memorable achievements was winning first place at the Colombia NetRiders competition. “It was the first NetRiders in Colombia and it was dominated by women,” says Munoz. “There were three women and 18 men, and all three women won an award.” As the top contender, Munoz won a trip to visit Cisco headquarters in San Jose.
Winning NetRiders also helped Munoz advance her career. “It gave me the opportunity to be in contact with people from the local Cisco office, so once a vacancy opened, they called me,” she explains. “When I started at Cisco as an associate systems engineer, I was responsible for the office lab and demos. Now I’m a Cisco consulting systems engineer for the business video group, covering Latin America from Mexico to Brazil.”
Supporting Students in ICT
Munoz is actively involved in helping women enter the ICT field in Colombia. “I was invited to participate in a discussion forum about women and technology,” she says, “and it felt really good to share my story with other girls and address their concerns about a career path in technology.”
Munoz has also maintained a strong relationship with the Networking Academy program. In addition to teaching at an academy, she’s been invited to help organize NetRiders several times and assisted with preparing challenges, selecting the jury, and promoting the competition. "The most rewarding thing for me was having high school students in the competition," she says. "It was amazing to see these students presenting their network designs and participating in the troubleshooting challenges with incredible confidence. At that moment, I felt proud of our academies.”