How IT changed my life: 'IT offers many pathways'
By Ashan Kumar
Ashan Kumar met Sadeepa Ravinath Palliyaguru to understand, How "IT" changed his life.
Associate Software Engineer and Technical Writer OPRO Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. Sadeepa Ravinath Palliyaguru
"My Childhood dream was to become a doctor. An astrologer and many palm readers predicted that I would be a skilled surgeon. My father who was a physics teacher then, collected notes. However I had to travel a different path at my A/L". I entered into a dialogue with somewhat of an introvert, possessing commendable leadership skills from tender age. Sadeepa can be described as a personality who encompasses "quiet potential".
He went on describing about his college days, Royal College being his alma-mater, "I studied logic, statistics and English literature for my A/Ls. Even though these subjects were not selected with the objective of moving into IT, they really helped me to grasp the fundamentals of IT"
I probed deeper and questioned him why he chose IT as a career, he said, "Traditional avenues left for an arts graduate getting out of the university are restricted.
The available popular options would be teaching, NGOs, government service and few other options. I wanted to do something different. I think that the turning point in selecting an IT career was the guidance I received from Openarc Computer School during my diploma and BIT external degree. Pinto and Daya Hettiarachchi two instructors at Openarc Computer School taught how we could use IT in problem solving. They explained the practicality and the value of being a professional.
On the other hand IT was becoming a mainstream interest in Sri Lanka. The growing reputation of IT as a profession also influenced me to select an IT career.
Another special incident which motivated me to join IT was an exhibition held at the University of Colombo School of Computing. At this exhibition I used the internet for the very first time in my life. I found that to be a very fascinating technology. The concept of a search engine - a tool which gives info as you type was quite interesting.
A BIT degree program laid a professional foundation on my IT knowledge. I learned programming, software engineering, project management and many other subjects. The skills I gained through the program finally made me an IT professional and a regular user of IT. I was also able to experience "E learning" through the e learning programs offered by UCSC later.
My next question was the impact IT has made in his life. He said "I believe IT has a huge impact on my lifestyle and principles. I can't imagine how I would live without IT. I have been using my computers from my teens upto now.
My first experience of computer use was on my friend's home computer - we had to remove our shoes entering that room and playing "Prince of Persia" on that computer was our favourite pastime. I got my first computer when I completed my O/Ls and since then I have been using IT and computers on a daily basis. First I was basically using it for word processing for my father.
But today it is having a tremendous impact on me. It's the main source of information and communication and a relationship platform for me. After passing from the university I found a job through a local job portal called topjobs.lk.
"I do my research on internet and store all my documents on cloud services like Google. I constantly keep in touch with my friends on Facebook , I have my own blog space where I blog in Sinhala and English plus I micro blog on Twitter. I am involved in "Sinhala Bloggers Union" - a group of Sinhala bloggers using Sinhala firefox which is a localized version of Mozilla Firefox," he said.
"I am a youth worker involved in Leo clubs. Most of community building and communication among the Leo clubs is facilitated by ICT solutions. We have a web site powered by Joomla , a hosted email service of Google , blog syndication service, project management portal , an e learning initiative and number of different projects available for Leo club members. (www. leodistrict306a2.org).
This project made me understand that ICT could even be useful for non-business purposes.
This year through our web site and social networks we have even got several new members for our Leo clubs. This is a great achievement for me. We have even found resource personnel for our district projects through internet. Now I feel that internet is no longer a "virtual reality" but is becoming "the reality".
We are planning to go beyond the present level by starting a Leo TV channel through internet and starting a Leo podcast series along with other Leo districts. I think establishing this web site is one of the greatest achievements of my Leo life. In a few months we have reached 80,000 hits and we are planning to get our 100,000 visitor before the end of June," he said.
I asked him about the responsibilities of his company, "OPRO Lanka is the research and development branch of my mother company.
All communications and software development is done through the web. We have managed to find many new clients for our web based products through social networks and platforms like twitter. We are taking a new approach to reach new markets by promoting our products via informal social networks and blogs.
This has been very successful and our target is purely internet based clients. Presently we are moving towards SaaS (Software as a Service and Cloud Computing) where all our services will be offered based on internet. This would also unlock a new dimension in IT where all necessary software services will be web based.
On a more personal level it has helped me to express myself. My blog is my window to the world. I would always blog about anything of interest and some others will comment on my posts. I don't think that this would be possible with the traditional mass media model. I am a little publisher online with a readership.
He winded up the interview with his advice to the young generation as to why IT is to be considered as one's career, "The first reason which comes to my mind is the pace it is evolving. Today everyone needs internet. It is no longer a techy norm.
With the rapid development of internet and other technologies the masses have access to the internet. Therefore IT is going to be a key requirement in whatever you do.
There are many different pathways - programming, web development, graphics, animation and many new avenues opening. Being an IT professional for two years I have learned many new technologies at my workplace.
If you choose IT as your future you would have the opportunity and the challenge of learning new things. Therefore it will offer something new everyday for you. I like this aspect of IT.
On the other hand IT would always be a domain of creativity. Internet is the theater to perform, act on creativity. If you are creative IT would reward you, he said.