Meet the Insiders: Richard McIntosh

By PegahKamal posted Mar 20, 2018 12:00 PM


I caught up with Richard McIntosh to get his perspective on #ATM and technology innovation. Follow Richard on Twitter at @802Tophat and bookmark Richard’s blog to hear more about his adventures in networking.



RichardMcIntosh_Headshot.pngPK: When you’re not hanging out at ATM18, what’s your day job?

RM: I’m a network engineer at a nationwide nonprofit. I juggle everything from wireless to routing, switch, and voice. I’m always busy, and It’s lot of fun being in the nonprofit space.

At a nonprofit, I have more flexibility in what I’m doing. I don’t have to do just one job or the same thing every day. If I want to play with Wi-Fi today, I can do that. If there’s routing and switching that needs to happen, or if security issues come up, I can work on those.


PK: How did you get into networking?

RM I’ve always been passionate about networking—and a super nerd. When I went to college, I took some Cisco CCNA courses. That piqued my interest, and I’ve been doing it ever since.


PS: What motivates you to do what you do?

RM: I’m motivated to work for a nonprofit. Being here, I’m making a difference and changing lives. I’m able to speak with our constituents about how our organization changes their lives. There’s a lot of jobs where you can do volunteer work. But day-to-day, we’re saving lives, so that makes me very excited about working here.


The other motivation is our daughter who was born last year. Every time I look at her, I think, OK, I need to do the best I can, so she can have the best life.  


PK: What is the first thing you’ll do when you get to Vegas for ATM?

RM: Make the trek to In-N-Out. I live in southeast Georgia, and we can’t get In-N-Out here.


PK: What’s the coolest part about ATM?

RM: The community. Hanging around with so many people who are there to learn and hone their craft is inspiring and motivating. There’s an incredible amount of energy from all the Airheads there, and being able to bounce ideas off others is great.


I love the community. Aruba is the most community-focused big company in our space.


PK: What part of ATM do you dread the most?

RM: Being away from the family from a full week is rough. My wife is at home, holding down the fort. Since my baby is a year old, I miss a lot of growth in a week.


PK: What technology are you wearing right now?

RM: I’m an old-fashioned nerd, and I don’t have any wearable technology. I only have a smartphone.


PK: If you weren’t in technology, what would your life be like?

RM: I’d probably being working in kitchen and making pastries. Before college, I was going to go down a culinary path. It was a lot of fun to make beautiful, delicious fancy food.


PK: Who do you see as the undisputed guru of technology innovation?

RM: I don’t want to claim favorites, but Elon Musk. I’m very excited about what SpaceX and Tesla are doing. It’s very cool stuff.


PK: And which one would you want to have dinner with?

RM: I’m hoping to talk to Keerti at Atmosphere and pick his brain on what he’s thinking about artificial intelligence and security, and how these are going to make things better for us.


If Elon Musk is available, I’d love for him to join us.


PK: What will be the most life-changing technology in our lifetime?

RM: Solar power in the long run. We’re at a point where it’s cheap enough that we can really deploy in third-world areas. We can bring technology into areas that were recently unattainable and truly make a difference in very poor regions. Give people technology and the Internet, and that empowers them to do everything they could ever dream.


PK: In what market segment will we see the next big disruption?

RM: From the networking side, routing and switching. For so long, we’ve been doing SNMP traps and CLI configuration. We’re on the cusp of doing telemetry and less human interaction with the network. That’s been the goal for a couple of years.


Also, more true automation. Less like configuration, because we’ve been doing that with Ansible, Puppet and Chef, but true automation, such as the AI integration that Keerti has been talking about. The network can make its own decisions. I think that’s going to be exciting—and scary—for people who make their living with routing and switching.


PK: What’s your favorite meme?

RM: Love this one:



Richard is a delegate at the Mobility Field Day Extra Roundtable on Wed., March 28 at 3:15pm PST at #ATM18. Watch the live stream here: