Thoughts On The New Community VCDX Mentoring


Yesterday I posted on VMTN about the new VCDX Mentoring Process.  I wanted to post a quick not about this change and see what people are thinking.  Honestly I have not gotten any feedback, good, bad, or indifferent, so I guess no news is good news?  Here is some of my personal feelings on the change and why I truly think it’s the best possible approach.

I Believe In Mentoring

I wanted to tell everyone I am a HUGE fan of mentoring.  I have had many throughout my career, and I think they can be a great resource not just for VCDX, but for your career.  I’ve also been asked to be a mentor to many people.  Some people in my life have been mentors without even realizing it.  I can tell you this blog was a result of mentorship from Duncan Epping back in 2010, strangely enough, while serving on VCDX panels in Cambridge, MA.  He will remember that one, it was the event where I got the presidential suite at the Marriott!

I do believe that it’s a private thing between the two people.  In cases where I asked someone to officially mentor me, I approached them and asked for help.  Some were will to help, others were too busy.  I just always tried to surround myself with people who I could grow with.  In almost all cases it worked out great and I learned a lot.  I fully believe in the community we have.  For that reason I think that many people want to “give back” to their fellow VCDX candidates.

I truly believe this new way of handling mentoring is much more community focussed and allows for a lot more flexibility between all parties involved.  I’d love to hear your thoughts, mostly because I have not heard anything…which sort of scares me.  Leave some comments below!

I Believe In Mentoring

I want to address the first bullet from the Mentoring Guidelines that states “Panelists can NOT be mentors”.  The additional bullets are pretty clear as to the reasoning.  The primary reason was the majority of Panelists themselves expressed concern about being both a Panelist and a mentor.  I only want to point out this was the decision of the majority of current panelists.  They did not want to inadvertently give someone a better chance by knowing the specifics of the defense process.  Frankly I agreed with their decision and it’s what we ran with.

I realize this is not something everyone will like, but over time feelings will pass and we can learn to work within the new system.  To be honest any kind of official mentoring was barely even a year old, so now was the time to make any significant changes.  Just remember you cannot please everyone, but we are vetting our decisions with a lot of internal VCDX’s and the Advisors.  These are not taken lightly by any means.

About Chris Colotti

Chris is active on the VMUG and event speaking circuit and is available for many events if you want to reach out and ask. Previously to this he spent close to a decade working for VMware as a Principal Architect. Previous to his nine plus years at VMware, Chris was a System Administrator that evolved his career into a data center architect. Chris spends a lot of time mentoring co-workers and friends on the benefits of personal growth and professional development. Chris is also amongst the first VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX#37), and author of multiple white papers. In his spare time he helps his wife Julie run her promotional products as the accountant, book keeper, and IT Support. Chris also believes in both a healthy body and healthy mind, and has become heavily involved with fitness as a Diamond Team Beachbody Coach using P90X and other Beachbody Programs. Although Technology is his day job, Chris is passionate about fitness after losing 60 pounds himself in the last few years.


  1. IMHO, I think this is the right approach. Being paired up with someone you may or may not know may not be the best option for some. Much like you, I try and surround myself with like-minded individuals that believe in personal development. VMware has an excellent community of “non-internal” folks that love to help and are very knowledgeable. I would also say, as it relates to the VCDX programcertification, that your mentor doesn’t necessarily need to be a VCDX. Short of telling you what to expect during the defense, it still wouldn’t help someone if the experience andor knowledge of their design isn’t there. This person would still have a difficult time defending. There are many “architect” level folks out there that understand what an architect does andor have been around long enough to experience the different aspects of enterprise architecture above and beyond the VMware pieces.
    Just my two cents.

    • I actually agree….if you don’t know much about architecture, get mentored by an Architect first. I think I mentioned that in my previous post. The VCDX Mentor is to help you understand the process, not teach you to be a better architect. That can be anyone really.

  2. Hi,

    A critical question hasn’t really been covered in this for me though is around if panelists can be a mentor if you have a personal relationship with them as you mention above?? As if this isn’t the case why was it perfectly fine in the past but now all of a sudden has changed? Surely removing all these people as mentors is taking away opportunities for a large amount of people to learn from some of the top people in the industry as most of the panelists are?Can they at least still do reviews for us?


    • The previous program really had little structure to it, and frankly whatever was done before was heavily reviewed by many people. The current panelists decided as a majority that they felt being a panelist and a mentor going forward was a conflict. Their feelings were that as panelists knowing the scoring process could inadvertently give someone they mentor more of an advantage over someone mentored by someone not on a panel. It was 100% about making sure all mentors were on a level playing field.

      Since the majority decided they would rather be one OR the other, that’s how it was decided. There is much fewer panelists than there are potential mentors. As the community grows there is going to be plenty of people to go to. Anyone that has gotten their VCDX is just as much a “top Person” as anyone else. They all passed the certification so they have equal capability. I understand the feelings, but it was decided by the majority of the panelists themselves. We’ve made no decisions in a bubble, it’s all been discussed internally and vetted multiple times.

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