The Heart of a Champion: An Interview with Pierre Guindon

Mitch Reyes Program Manager, Channel Published 18 Mar 2021

No matter the challenge, a true champion never gives up. Having overcome some major health problems in the past, our guest has not only enjoyed success after success, both personal and professional, but he is also actively helping others in their road to recovery and fulfillment. Hear the story of Pierre Guindon from Combat Networks, a genuine Extreme Champion!

Bonjour, Pierre. First of all, let me congratulate you on winning the Extreme’s 2020 Show & Sell Challenge. Are you using your award-winning ExtremeCloud IQ demo while working from home and hosting virtual meetings?

The last few months have provided us with ample opportunities to redefine our new normal and the fast pace of growth of ExtremeCloud IQ enables us to engage and provide demos to our customers remotely.

What do your customers think of the latest functionality and capabilities of ExtremeCloud IQ, including on-premises use?

Our customers have gained additional value from the interface enhancements, the operational improvements, and the varied deployment scenarios. I also like the introduction of Site Engine. It will allow Combat Networks to pitch existing ERS customers on the cloud.

What do you do at Combat? Are you more inclined towards being an advisor focusing on managed services or handling solutions design?

The Combat community has been my passion for the last 15 years. Participating in the astronomical growth of Combat has been dear to me, seeing the company adapt to the changing times and expectations. I aspire to be an enabler, engaging customers on their path to efficiency, productivity, and digital transformation. The solutions offered by Extreme Networks allow me to bring that level of interaction to our customers without having to design them myself.

Do you remember your first experience with Extreme? Has your relationship with Extreme services and solutions changed along the way?

Yes, it was the day after Extreme acquired Avaya. As an advocate of Avaya’s technology, the acquisition did worry me back then a little bit. I was afraid the technology would become less than it was before. But once I attended the webinar hosted by Extreme Networks, I immediately felt secure in the knowledge that Extreme will bring the Avaya solution to a whole new level. The growth of our fabric customers and never losing one is proof that it was successful.

Can you recall a particularly difficult issue that you managed to help your client with?

Oh yes, it was a project for a small university campus with numerous satellite locations covering province-wide geography. Their outdated controller-based Wi-Fi infrastructure was in serious need of a refresh. The design was dated, performance no longer met the needs of the students, and the burden of managing the system was overwhelming for the local staff. Through the partnership of the Combat team and Extreme Networks, we successfully on-boarded this customer as the first and then the largest managed services Wi-Fi deployment in our geography.

Pierre training for the biking section of a triathlon.

What do you have in common with Iron Man?

Tony Stark’s Iron Man and I do share some similarities. We both have an interest in technology. In my case, it’s taken the form of an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD). It’s something foreign lodged in my chest, challenging me to redefine myself but at the same time showing other ICD recipients that there are positive outcomes possible when you have heart issues. The road to recovery, both physical and emotional, provided me with numerous opportunities: acting as a running coach, enabling folks to learn new skills, dropping some bad habits, and gaining some self-confidence in the process. Recently, with Extreme’s generous support, through my participation in the local Ironman Triathlon, we were able to raise thousands of dollars for the local heart institute foundation.

It’s an amazing story, Pierre. We love seeing you in action because you’re a true force of nature. And speaking of sports, is it true that all Canadians love hockey? Coming from Montreal, that would make you a Canadiens man…

Sadly, much to the detriment of my French-Canadian parents, I had very little interest in sports in my early days. I remember a semester at UCLA, the year The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, was traded. There was no one at the Culver City Arena. Two weeks after the trade? Huge lines were the talk of the town, everyone wanted to skate. Friends were asking me, the Montrealer, how it’s done? I had to admit to having no ability to skate backwards. And, to tell you the truth, very little else to offer on the ice.

If you had any advice or message for your fellow colleagues from the networking industry, what would it be?

Lead with your intentions and be authentic. Take the time to invest in yourself with your customers.

Do you feel like a champion sometimes?

Deserving of another’s confidence and interest, feeling that you are adding value to the relationship, goes a long way to fostering that champion feeling.

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