Last night, I sat and looked back at the past one and thought to myself, boy, what a decade it has been! It was the hardest one that I lived through, especially considering that at one point, I didn’t expect to at all!
Quite a few major events happened in the last decade that affected me personally and professionally. Fortunately, it has been mostly positive and the challenging events improved me as a person as such are the events that make you stronger.
Blogging and Twitter
Turn of the last decade was when I thought about sharing my experiences with the community and started blogging and opened my account on Twitter. I had been sharing regularly on various technology bulletin boards from the nineties but blogging seemed like the right mechanism for proper articles, process pieces and problem resolution that weren’t as common on the Internet as they are now, especially when it came to virtualisation.
At the time, I didn’t realise how much everyone will appreciate it but when they did, it encouraged me to contribute more. It was very satisfying as I’ve always been keen to help everyone and that gave me yet another outlet to do so. It has been a little difficult in recent years but I do intend to get back into full swing again so watch this space!
A Second Life
That same year, I came close to dying twice, due to an illness that had quietly gotten quite bad. I will spare you the details but it took months in hospital, going through dozens of operations/procedures and countless scans to save me. Doctors thought I was too stubborn to die and none of us thought at the time that I’ll survive, let alone lasting as long as I have since. I will be eternally grateful to the NHS and its brilliant doctors and staff for getting me through and why I am a big supporter of the NHS.
There was permanent damage which amongst other things, brought 24 hours of pain. It’s a struggle every day to function and work but strong painkillers and will to keep going works wonders. For that reason, I am immensely grateful to still be around for my family and friends. I cherish every moment spent with them and that’s the single most valuable thing for me. Let’s see how many decades I can eke out of myself.
In 2012, the public sector organisation I worked for was shutting down. Fortunately, I was approached by Xtravirt at the right time. I knew them from the Public Sector User Group (in the days before VMUGs) meetings that I used to attend at the VMware offices in Camberley so it was an easy decision and I joined them. I was one of the early members of the team and worked alongside many extremely talented colleagues that were/are well-known in the vCommunity and have gone on to do even bigger and better things.
Xtravirt also brought me even closer to VMware as I did a lot of work as a partner PSO consultant with them and for a good few years going forward. That also brought a lot of varied projects that were not only extremely satisfying from a technology point-of-view but also allowed me to grow my technical and business expertise. Over the years, a lot of those Xtravirt colleagues have joined VMware and other organisations (some of which have also since been integrated into VMware) which shows their calibre and I am honoured to have worked with them.
vExpert and other programs
It was at Xtravirt that Darren Woollard suggested to me that I should apply for the vExpert program; something that wasn’t even aware of prior to him asking. I am so glad and grateful to him that he did because that gave me a step into this wonderful vCommunity that is you and I have formed so many great relationships with people all around the world because of that.
Of course, later this community involvement expanded into many other programs as well. All of that has brought opportunities to help and mentor other colleagues which are great ways for me to give back to the community that I gain a lot from too.
Dad’s illness and passing
I had to change my career in a big way when I realised my Dad’s health was getting worse and I may be needed at short notice. That required a job that didn’t require much travel and ideally, working from home. Atos provided me with that and it was quite good timing as a month later, he was hospitalised and I had to work from the hospital for the next couple of months. I didn’t let my output to be affected but that meant lots of extra hours too. My wife helped me immensely by staying the nights which allowed me a few hours of sleep and stayed extra time when I had meetings. I am also grateful to my management at the time that allowed me that flexibility as there were times when they could hear the typical hospital noises when I replied in meetings.
Those were very difficult days but we pulled through. He got discharged and was with us for another year. A couple of years ago, he passed away. That hit me quite badly and I still haven’t recovered. I drowned myself in work and later, it drowned me! That’s the main reason why despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to contribute as much to the community as I would like to. I’ve been exhausting myself with work as, by the end of the day, it makes falling asleep easier. Considering my physical state, that makes blogging and other interactions much harder, although, I’ve been trying hard.
It will be difficult but the coming year will be one where I’ll push more to come out of that situation. He will always remain in my prayers but I know that he would himself tell me that he’s OK (if I could ask him) like he always did – no matter how hard things became. I need to bring my old enthusiasm back so that’s one goal for the next year!
Wider Community Involvement
Being part of the OpenTechCast crew has been one source of fun for me and an outlet that I could still manage despite what I’ve mentioned before. It’s a great bunch of people that I hold very dear and I hope that we can continue the podcast going for a very long time. I try my best not to miss an episode and even if at times I can’t put my words together, due to exhaustion (we typically record in evenings after work and English is not my native language), I can make some contribution and that keeps me going.
I am also extremely grateful to Stephen Foskett and the wider Tech Field Day team for getting me involved in their events. Those events allow me to form new relationships, get to see the interesting tech in an intimate setting and geek out in general. Being “across the pond”, also means I get to be involved with the community that I wouldn’t generally be able to otherwise and that’s another reason why it makes it all very special to me. Again, I haven’t been able to contribute as much as I wanted to so far but I am working towards changing that this coming year.
After my dad’s passing, I’ve become more flexible and could afford a moderate amount of travel. So, I joined Rackspace. It’s a long commute when I need to go to the office but Rackspace is one of the best places to work and allows the flexibility to work from home when being present in the office is not necessary.
It’s a very different role from what I’ve been used to before but I am enhancing my business acumen and commercial skills. While I work with the entire Rackspace portfolio, I also hold the VMware SME for EMEA role, which involves guiding my colleagues when they have queries on any VMware product, including VMware Cloud on AWS.
That has kept me extremely busy in the first year and a bit but I am feeling settled now and I am hoping that will release some time for my community activities too.
After spending 14 years in our last home, it was time to move as everyone was beginning to feel quite cramped in it. It’s amazing how inefficient daily life can be due to lack of space and how many things you just don’t attempt because of it. So, we started searching and after over a year of looking, we finally booked and moved into it just over six months ago.
It was quite emotional leaving our last home after such a long time but I can see, everyone is much happier and it has enabled activities that we wouldn’t have had time or space for in the last home. To be able to achieve that, despite everything else that has happened, makes me proud and grateful. This is definitely a great finish to the outgoing decade and makes me look forward to the next.
Plan for the next decade
There’s much more that happened but these are the things I consider having a major impact on my life in the past decade. It has been a bumpy ride but a lot of positives came out of it, both in my personal life and career/community-wise. I’ve had varied and highly-technical roles in these years that has resulted in immense growth professionally and helped with my community efforts. That is why I am looking forward to the next one with hope and positivity too and plan to continue on this path.
I won’t forget the past but will focus on the future by focussing on the positives and building on them in the next decade. In addition to the family, vCommunity will be one of my priorities and I aim to become as active as my circumstances allow.
To quote my favourite quote from Top Gun: Maverick’s re-engaging, sir!
Standby for the post on 1/1/2030!