Saturday, 20 October 2012

Session at St. Peter's : Industry Requirements And I.T. Infrastructure Management

As a management committee member of Computer Society of India, Hyderabad chapter, I want to do my bit to bring the academic world and industry closer. I’d be conducting guest lectures at various engineering colleges along with professionals from the corporate world.

The first session I could do was on 15-Sep-2012 at St. Peter’s Engineering College. The expert who gave the main talk was Vandana Waghray, Director - Information Technology at United States Pharmacopeia - India.

Hyderabad as a city may not have the flaunting style of Mumbai or the flair of Bengaluru, but it throws pleasant surprises. One such surprise was Vandana Waghray. I met her at the Meet The Expert session conducted by CTO Forum at IBM, Bengaluru last year. Our acquaintance continued over email after the meet.

Look at her profile - it's a male-dominated corporate IT world and you will know why I used the phrase pleasant surprise - After working for 18 years in USA with Barclays, Bank of America, CHRISTUS Health, and others, she recently relocated to Hyderabad. In her current position, Vandana leads the Information Technology team and drives technical strategy and execution. She is responsible for program delivery, technical operations, information security, strategic partner alliance, vendor, and business relationship. Prior to joining USP, Vandana worked at Barclays Bank as Director – Business Technology Group and led global delivery of multi-million dollar technology programs and partner launches for US Air, LL Bean, Lufthansa, etc.

So when I started listing the names of potential speakers at CSI sessions, her name was amongst the first in my list. I contacted Vandana and she readily agreed to give a talk. I sent her profile to CSI management committee and Prof. Chandrasekhar Reddy of St. Peter’s Engineering College accepted to host the session. The hospitality extended by Prof. Chandrasekhar and the college management is extremely laudable.

First I spoke about CSI and industry requirements. I mentioned the benefits of taking CSI membership and informed the audience about upcoming CSI activities. Regarding industry requirements, I made only two points : first, don’t be an instruction taker rather be a problem-solver; second, be the best in whatever you do.

In the main lecture, "Successful Career in I.T. Infrastructure Management", Vandana talked about and showed slides of a data center and its functioning. Her speech was in two parts: IT and Soft Skills. In the first part, she discussed what IT infrastructure is, how to build a data center, who is who in it, and the non-technical roles in I.T.

On soft skills, she said that selling is everything. She spoke on the cultural differences between India and the U.S., touching upon voice and accent, non-verbal communication, work ethics, and behaviour. One important point she made was that, in the USA if a person works in the office for eight hours, you can expect good productivity from those eight hours. Socializing is done after hours.

The final part of Vandana’s talk was on new technologies - high performance computing, virtual desktop infrastructure, and cloud computing.

We had a question and answer session and it was lively. Some students were asking how to pursue a career in IT infrastructure management, what courses they should do. One student asked about networking. He said he was interested in pursuing networking. But people were not encouraging. I said if your passion is networking, go for it, don’t be distracted by what others say, be the best networking professional in Hyderabad, and you will make more money than anyone else in this room.

Even after the session ended, students were eagerly interacting with Vandana. A lot of them were female students and they surrounded Vandana asking a lot of queries. That’s a testimony that the talk was well received and liked. It encourages me to conduct more such sessions in the future.

The photos for the event can be seen at: this link.

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