Comcast Business is a leading U.S. technology provider delivering internet, phone and TV solutions to over 2 million businesses in 39 states. The company provides solutions to help businesses go “beyond fast” — a promise Comcast delivers by providing the best-in-class technology and services from a knowledgeable, high-skilled team. For Romy Ricafort, West Division Senior Director of Sales Engineering for Comcast Business, providing relevant cybersecurity and networking training to his sales engineering team is a top priority. In this role, Romy oversees the strategic planning and development for approximately 90 client sales engineers, enterprise sales engineers and SE leaders in six Comcast regions across 13 states. We asked Romy to share why he’s hyper focused on helping his team skill-up for future growth and new opportunities, and why he selected Infosec Skills to launch the company’s first cybersecurity training program for his sales engineering team.
New skills, new opportunities: Staying competitive from startup to market leader
Comcast, the Comcast Business parent company, has offered internet services since the 1990s. It launched Comcast Business in 2006 to help organizations fuel innovation, improve efficiencies and create memorable interactions with customers. Few organizations have evolved and prospered through digital transformation like Comcast Business, success Romy attributes to “skating where the puck is headed.”
“It’s like the famous Wayne Gretzky quote,” said Romy. “You don’t want to chase that puck. Business leaders need to look forward and get ahead of changing technology and product needs and make sure employees have the right skills to support the business.” Like many successful technology companies, Comcast evolved its offerings to meet the changing needs of its clients. For Comcast Business’s West Division, that includes helping clients secure the same networks powered by Comcast internet services.
Business leaders need to look forward and get ahead of changing technology and product needs and make sure employees have the right skills to support the business.
“If you’re going to convince clients to trust you with their network security, you better have an understanding of what a firewall does or what unified threat management means,” said Romy. “My sales engineering team is there to earn that trust, and it’s my job as a West Division Comcast Business leader to ensure they have a place outside of freeware to practice their craft and build their skills.”
“Knowledge is an important differentiator. But it has to be focused knowledge. That’s where Infosec Skills comes in for us. It helps our sales engineering team build the foundational knowledge needed to support where our business is going, so they can skate where that puck is heading.”
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Building a culture of continuous learning through access, encouragement
Since first enrolling his team into Infosec Skills, Romy’s team of sales engineers have spent over 350 hours voluntarily studying topics like cloud security, networking and information security fundamentals. The team is also using the platform to prepare for certifications like CompTIA Security+ and CCNA. Romy launched the program in early 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic saw the majority of his team working remotely from the safety of their homes.
“Our main focus — both during and after this pandemic — is to accelerate our sales team,” said Romy. “My sales engineers do that by staying connected with their sales rep and relentlessly developing their own technical skill set. The 350 hours spent training in Infosec Skills proves our folks have really bought into learning and developing themselves. They want to be better sales engineers coming out of COVID-19.”
Romy uses the Infosec Skills team admin portal to stay apprised of where learners are spending their time, information he’s found both insightful and encouraging. “Infosec Skills is a very good place for building technical acumen and engineering development knowledge,” said Romy. “It enables us to provide training to the entire team on topics they speak to clients about. From the portal, I can see who is putting in the time and who’s taken courses to fruition. You can actually see whether or not someone is taking a smattering of classes or completing a learning path from start to finish.”
Carrots, sticks and gym memberships
Romy selected Infosec Skills for his team because of its vast library of cybersecurity training paths, a price-point that enabled the Comcast Business to offer unlimited training to the entire team of sales engineers and his ability to measure training progress through the team admin portal.
“We don’t have a budget to send 90 sales engineers to a boot camp,” said Romy. “We needed a resource that would deliver relevant training to all our team members — regardless of where they were in their own career. For sales engineers, everything’s changing all the time. They need to keep learning and evolve both with their role and the world around them.”
The best organizations have the best trained people. As a leader, I need to give them the tools they need to train and develop themselves.
When it comes to keeping employees engaged in training, Romy always opts for the carrot over the stick. “I’m not a guy who carries a stick and tells people what to learn next,” said Romy. “People have to find it within themselves to really make it. I tell my folks all the time, the best organizations have the best trained people. As a leader, I need to give them the tools they need to train and develop themselves.”
Romy likens professional development to going to the gym — an ongoing process yielding rewards equal to the effort put in. “What employees learn is really up to them,” said Romy. “If you discipline yourself, find time in the morning, afternoon or over your lunch break to learn for 30 minutes a day for a number of years, you’ll become an expert. It’s like going to the gym — if you get off track and lose those habits, it becomes a lot harder to pick it back up.”
Measuring training success at Comcast Business
When asked how he plans to measure success for his Division from Infosec Skills, Romy pointed to hours spent training, skill progression and the business’s bottom line. “For now,” said Romy, “we’re primarily looking at time spent training in the platform and making sure our sales engineering team is taking time to build their skills. Moving forward, we’ll look at qualitative things like if the platform is making it easier for our team to speak to customers about more advanced topics. Then we’ll go one step further and see if the platform is helping our team hit or exceed their monthly goals.”
Romy firmly believes it’s the responsibility of leaders like him to give teams everything they can to help employees succeed in their current role and be even better in their next role. When asked if he’s worried about losing employees to another department or even a competing firm, Romy was unconcerned.
“Let them learn the things they want to,” said Romy. “Ultimately, if they’re not happy as a sales engineer and you see they are taking a Linux Fundamentals course in Skills, that’s great for them. Engineers can learn to be really good salespeople and there are salespeople who can learn to become really good engineers. It’s our job to make sure employees enjoy their time at the company and understand we are bought into their personal growth and success.”