Leslie Meade believes making the grade with CCIE Voice is a lot like passing the bar exam. And apparently, he’s not the only one.

“I read somewhere recently that a lawyer, who’s also a Cisco employee, went to do his CCIE Voice, and said it was in fact harder than the bar,” remarks Leslie, a Senior Network Consultant in Long View’s Vancouver office. “Personally, I compare it to doing your dissertation for a PhD — both writing it, and defending it — in eight hours.”

Networking: The Long View Careers Blog is a perfect forum to trumpet the professional achievements of Long View’s technowizards. In Leslie’s case, he passed the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Voice exam in San Jose, Calif., near the end of March — after countless hours of study and preparation for the better part of a year.

CCIE Voice is considered one of the most difficult exams anywhere in the industry. To give Leslie’s achievement some proper context, there are less than 2,300 CCIE Voice engineers in the world, and just five in the province of British Columbia. Leslie becomes the ninth IT professional at Long View to earn the CCIE certification, and only the third with a CCIE Voice.

According to Cisco, achieving the CCIE Voice engineer status means expert-level knowledge of Voice-over-IP (VoIP) solutions in an enterprise environment. CCIE Voice represents Cisco’s stamp of approval in building and configuring complex, end-to-end telephony networks, while also providing top-drawer troubleshooting and quality control.

The exam process starts with a two-hour, written qualification exam, and is followed by an incredibly demanding eight-hour lab exam, in person, at Cisco headquarters. Leslie built up to that lab exam on March 26 with a solid nine months of study — as in three hours a night, four nights a week, with no exceptions.

So what does this professional triumph mean for Leslie, and for Long View? In a word, says his manager Dave Richardson, prestige.

More and more clients with a sufficient network backbone are approaching Long View with requests to start building out VoIP networks, and the presence of a CCIE Voice engineer is instant confirmation that the job’s going to get done right.

“This allows Long View to establish ourselves as a critical Cisco partner, and a very reputable provider of VoIP solutions,” says Dave, a Vancouver-based Client Services Manager for Long View.

“And being a CCIE Voice resource expands Leslie’s career, for sure. It gives him that credibility right out of the gate. People recognize that accreditation around the world, and it gets Leslie three or four conversations ahead of the next consultant.”

Leslie, an Aussie from Brisbane, has worked for Long View for about a year. He’s invested significant time and money to earn that CCIE Voice accreditation — including two previous attempts at the lab exam, a CCIE boot camp, and a complete CCIE laboratory that he set up at home.

But from the moment he joined Long View, Leslie was able to stop paying out-of-pocket for his efforts. As part of the company’s overall efforts to encourage employee training and certification opportunities, Long View paid all the bills associated with Leslie’s final CCIE Voice hurdle — travel and accommodation to the Bay Area, as well as the cost of the lab exam itself.

“In the long run, this will be beneficial for me and my family,” says Leslie. “I’ll be able to progress further in my field.”