MG Meets Guillermo Bernal, Optical Network Engineer

Please give a warm MG welcome to our latest external employee from LATAM, Optical Network Engineer – and expert in all things 5G – Guillermo Abondano Bernal. Manning Global caught up with the native Columbian to chat about the effects of COVID-19 on the telco industry, plus how keeping connected during the pandemic is key to a happy home – and work – life! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom this week Guillermo. Take care and keep up the good work!

Firstly, please could you tell us a little about how you came to work with Manning Global…

In January 2020, a good friend of mine sent me a post from Manning Global on LinkedIn, which stated they were looking for an Optical Network Engineer to work in Mexico. I sent my CV and now I am a proud Manning Global Engineer!

You have over 15 years’ career experience working in telecoms – how did you enter this sector?

When I finished my studies in the Colombian School of Engineering they got a request from Huawei for recently graduated English speaking engineers, so I sent my CV and got the job with Huawei one month later! I started as Optical Line Trainer for the Colombia office, then thanks to the development of the technology, I was moved to the regional department, delivering training for all the optical line equipment in the NLAR region. 

In 2008 I was promoted to Optical Line Training Team Leader, so in addition to my training work I would oversee the delivery of all the services in the region. 

In November 2011 ZTE offered me a position as Solution Manager for Transport Network. I began to promote solutions for ZTE Colombia customers for different technologies until 2016. After that I came back to my roots to start as a trainer with ISATEL [Huawei Learning Services partner]. I started as an outsourcing trainer, but in 2017 they hired me as a full time trainer! Last year I was transferred to Mexico to handle Huawei accounts. 

We hope you and your family are safe and well. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work and family life? 

It’s an important challenge; I am used to working from home, but as a family we are not used to being indoors all the time, so there are daily challenges to maintaining a ‘normal’ environment – especially for my daughter that loved her school and because of the pandemic, she hasn’t been able to go. But we are fortunate not only because we are healthy but that I work in a field that currently is helping to keep the world working!

Obviously, due to COVID-19, you are currently working remotely – how have you adapted to working from home? Feel free to highlight any changes in your routine…

I have established a remote working environment in my house so I can really focus on my work. It’s a blessing that I have the support of my wife and I can work peacefully; the biggest change to my routine comes with the maintenance operations that are scheduled in the late hours of the day.

What are your main duties as a remote-working Optical Network Engineer?

Supporting the different maintenance operations in Argentina and Colombia, plus developing the LLD for an important project we have in Colombia. Oh, and training the new engineers in optical networks!

What qualities do you need to succeed as an Optical Network Engineer?

I believe the key to success comes from the ability to learn. The technology is always evolving, so there’s always new possibilities and if you want to thrive you must be able to understand what’s new and why it’s important. 

What is your advice to someone considering a career in telecommunications in 2023?

I would suggest that any Engineer that wants to work in telecommunications should know IP, and, if possible, should learn how to handle virtualized environments. The technology trend is going in that direction and these technologies are now an integral part of the field.


Back to your 15+ experience in telecoms: what would you say has been the biggest technological advancement in those years? Feel free to expand upon training and maintenance of solutions with DWDM, PTN, SDH, MPLS…

I believe the biggest technological advancement is the possibility to have Software Defined Networks (SDN). This technology allows the operators to have bigger networks with more complex topologies but with a better scalability and resilience. SDN networks link MPLS and DWDM, creating a new environment that will provide the ground of networks that will offer more capacity – and possibilities – for their customers. 

Right now the biggest challenge that operators face is how to create a transport network that can support the 5G networks and the related services (such as IOT, NFV, etc.). SDN networks will allow this, but implementing SDN will change the way we work forever; the intelligence added to the transport plane will change the operational focus, and the provisioning possibilities will allow faster growth on the networks.

What excites you the most about the future of telecoms? Also, what scares you the most when it comes to technological advancements in communication?

I am excited to consider the possibilities of the future. I believe that a future in which we are more connected, that can offer us a wider variety of solutions, will improve our way of life. My biggest fear could be that our improved capacity to connect with devices somehow damages our capacity to connect with each other. In the telecommunications field we provide solutions for the people to get closer, not further apart! I also fear that the actual political environment damages the possibilities of this field to grow… telecoms requires a world willing to get integrated, not a world that wants to live apart!

What’s your biggest professional goal for 2024?

I wish to end 2020 with HCIP certification in Datacom and Optical Networks.

You and your family are settled in Mexico – what do you like most about the city?

We love the culture of the city – there are wonderful museums and parks. For any Manning Global readers planning a visit to Mexico, I would definitely recommend the National Museum of Anthropology.

Are there any other countries in the world you would like to work?

I would like to work in Germany, Finland or Norway, as those are countries with a high standard of living and with a very rich culture!

What was your dream job as a child?

I wanted to be an astronaut!

What was your first ever job?

My first ever job was helping my uncle to set up a certification for his company back in 2002.

What’s your proudest professional accomplishment?

I believe that my best accomplishment as a professional is that every time I leave a company people often say to me “you’ll be missed, you were a good part of the team”. Getting that recognition from your co-workers, customers and bosses is a very important accomplishment!

Enough about business, it’s time for pleasure! What are your hobbies outside of work?

I love to play video games… Assassin’s Creed is my favourite.

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

“You come to this life to be happy, live every moment like if it was the last.”

Who do you look up to the most in life?

There are many people that have given me important examples in life. I admire the work ethic of my father; the compassion of my mother; the strength of my wife and the happiness of my daughter.


If you had one superpower, what would it be?

I would love to time travel!

Finally, do you have any special message for Manning Global readers?  

I hope that after this pandemic ends, we can create a new world; a more compassionate and sincere word in which we care about each other and understand that every human being is important. Humanity won’t survive unless we understand that we are not alone – we need each other and we should make sure that everybody is ok, before I am ok!

Well said Guillermo! Thanks for ending on such a positive note. Stay safe and stay connected. 



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