Ronnie Royston was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and attended Tulane University with a full paid scholarship and graduated with a degree in Philosophy. Ronnie started a skydiving club while he was at Tulane and that was still a great love of his. For a time after college, he enjoyed himself, jumping out of airplanes every weekend and painting houses, but began to realize his Philosophy degree did not provide him with a lot of earning power.
But when he was exposed to people working in the telecommunications field, he decided to get industry certifications in the computer field. His study of Philosophy was a helpful foundation, particularly since writing computer code has so much to do with logic. Studying Philosophy also taught him to be a good communicator and to be accurate and precise with words, a skill that has also been helpful in working with people but getting to work in the field of telecommunications was a good move for him.
Ronnie is a Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE). Cisco is a large telecommunications company out of California that makes telecommunications equipment and is the company that offers that certification. Ronnie did not have a computer science background, but he saw that telecommunications potentially was a good industry to be in. He studied the relevant materials for 16 months while working a night job and passed the exam. This was a difficult certification to obtain but it opened doors for him too much better opportunities. He relocated to Houston, Texas, and became Senior Systems Engineer for Avnet. He subsequently spent many years as a Consulting Engineer and Technician for Datavox and as a Senior Solutions Architect for Onepath LLC.
His work as a computer network engineer included the installation and configuration of telecommunications equipment and computer networking systems.
After years of working with large corporate companies, Ronnie began working for himself and is now available to work with individuals and smaller companies. His business is called High Tekk and can be found at hightekk.com. He sells computer hardware and computer networking equipment and also provides web app development services to clients.
Always looking to improve and add to the services he provides to his clients, Ronnie is currently working on Google certification and adding to his skill set so he can begin working in the areas of application development, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence.
Why did you decide to go into telecommunications?
I decided to get involved in the telecommunications industry as a way to increase my earning capabilities.
What trends in your industry excite you?
Cloud computing and artificial intelligence are exciting trends in the industry. Computers have been used for automation with great success. We have automated a lot of repetitive tasks using computers and robotics. I think the ability to use computers through artificial intelligence and big data to help us decide things and impact the direction is amazing. Such systems can potentially diagnose someone’s illness. Where 20 or 50 human being doctors might misdiagnose or not diagnose something at all, but a cloud computing AI-enabled system can help us to be proactive and direct our behavior versus just automating repetitive tasks using technology. Finance is now using artificial intelligence through the use of algorithms to determine what to buy and sell. They trust the computer to tell them when to buy and to sell to make money. Artificial intelligence is also being used in the insurance industry. They create and destruct financial instruments based on actuarial data which is statistics, which is data on a computer.
What would you tell others looking to get into your industry?
I would encourage others looking to get into the industry to look into harnessing computer power paired with the global network, the internet, and everybody else’s computers, the global connectivity. That is magic.
You should do what you love because that is what is going to keep you motivated. If you are not staying motivated, you’re not going to be doing the work. It’s a competitive world out there.
The Cisco certifications can help you be hired by companies such as Google, Cisco, Apple, Facebook, or Twitter. If you have the Cisco certifications, you are not required to have a college degree. It really is a unique opportunity. The downside and the double-edged sword to that are that it is a highly competitive profession that is always changing, and you have to constantly stay on top of things.
How has the telecommunications industry changed over the last decade?
It is a highly competitive industry. The hardware, which is computers, routers, switches, all of that stuff continues to get cheaper, continues to get faster, continues to get smaller. The ability to make a living in computing hardware continues to be more and more challenging. The demand is for applications. In terms of a computer professional, your best is going to be in software development, application development. Around artificial intelligence, I think there is a great future around that, but that really boils down to statistics and mathematics. It really is a matter of statistics. Artificial intelligence is a fancy word for statistical analysis. The probability of this or that happening is what artificial intelligence consists of.
If you could change 1 thing you did at the beginning of your career what would it be?
I might say I would have studied computer science in college, but that really was not necessary since I was able to pass the Cisco exam without that background knowledge and still have a great career. I still found success early on.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
Work hard. Play hard. That’s the way that goes for me. The work certainly lasts. I’m always online responding to clients. The work never stops since I am able to work remotely in this line of business, so I am always available.
But I do like to have fun on the weekend and when I do get away from work. I am into health and fitness. I spend time at the gym daily.
Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
It was when I closed a large deal as a sales engineer. I was able to sell a really expensive system and make a nice commission. When you buy Cisco equipment, the routers, the switches, the computer networks, it’s just like buying a car. You don’t buy it from Toyota. You buy it from a local dealer. I worked for Cisco dealers, and so we were ones that the big companies would call to purchase their computer networks. I was the engineer to go install the equipment, but at the end of the day, it was a sales organization that I was working for. They were Cisco dealers, just like a Toyota dealership is a sales organization. Because I had been with the company long and I was really good at what I did, they allowed me to wear two hats and I was able to be called a technical account manager, as a salesperson, and so when I sold equipment I would get paid a commission. Those moments made me proud and happy.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
Always get up and try again.
What does success look like for you (personal or professional)?
For me, success has been finding a way to make things work even when things were not what I expected. I still figure out a way.
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