Interviews


Interviews by Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, MVP, DF/NPA, CNP

Soumitra Sengupta, Awards for Professionalism: Top of the Mark – Volunteer Award Recipient

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Soumitra Sengupta.

Top of the Mark - Volunteer Award honors the networking professional who has made the most effective combination of the ideals of professionalism and is a notable example of the best in giving back through selfless effort.

Soumitra SenguptaSoumitra Sengupta has been a Technology Community Leader for over 10 years. In 2002 he was awarded the Community Star by Microsoft India and started to participate in Microsoft News Groups in 2003. He was Awarded Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional Award (MVP) in 2003 and has continued to receive this award every year to date. He was awarded the Voice Of Community Hero Award in April, 2009. As an IT Pro Group Leader, GITCA, UG Lead Windows Support User Group, and also one of the administrators of merawindows.com, Soumitra is actively associated with Microsoft Answers and was one of the top contributors in help and troubleshooting in Microsoft News Group worldwide before its discontinuation. Soumitra has written sixty Microsoft KB Articles for Community Solutions. Soumitra took on the challenge to make the local people aware of latest technologies that were happening all around the world. He founded Windows Support UG, a local user group that organizes various events on Microsoft technologies and helps people both online and offline. This user group is GITCA associated and is the only user group in the entire North East India!

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA Ė May 11, 2011. The Network Professional Association® (NPA), in conjunction with Interop, Microsoft, GITCA, Cisco Press and Agile IT, announce four individuals as winners of the tenth annual Awards for Professionalism. The international contest for the Awards for Professionalism honors individuals working as network computing professionals. Selection is based on meeting the ideals of the Network Professional Association, the advocate for the network computing professional. Read the story at  www.AwardsforProfessionalism.org.

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.
http://blogs.technet.com/b/cdnitmanagers/

DISCUSSION:

Q: Soumitra, you have a fine history of considerable contribution. Congratulations on receiving the Awards for Professionalism, Top of the Mark Volunteer Award. Moreover, thank you for sharing your deep experiences and insights with our audience.

A:  Thanks Stephen, it's a great honour. I am happy that my contributions to the communities got recognized.

Q: What do you believe was the catalyst in receiving the Top of the Mark Volunteer Award?

A:  I have never tried for an award. I just tried to help users all over the world and it's a great moment that IT experts have recognized my work and I have been awarded. My passion towards the Microsoft community acted as a catalyst – I am passionate about their products and technologies.

Q: How did it feel to win this award?

A:  Well, being an Indian it's a very proud moment for me. I stay at a place called Siliguri, where there are hardly any IT activities, so it was a real challenge for me to do something for IT – but I feel I have done it.

Q: What was the reaction from your friends and family in receiving this award?

A:  What I am today is all due to my beloved wife. I kept myself engaged in IT activities because my wife has taken all my family pressure. My mother, my kids, my friends are all thrilled. I would especially like to thank my MVP Lead Abhishek Kant and my old friend Rahul Nathan.

Q: How will you leverage the recognition?

A:  I will be taking this to our communities to encourage them to participate more.

Q: Please share your past and current volunteer roles, why you serve, what value is being created by these organizations where you serve, why you recommend others to serve?

A:  I have been a Technology Community Leader for over 10 years. In 2002, I was awarded the Community Star by Microsoft India and I started to participate in Microsoft News Groups in 2003. I was awarded Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional Award (MVP) in 2003 and have continued to receive this award every year to date. I was awarded the Voice of Community Hero Award in April, 2009.

I was one of the top contributors in helping and troubleshooting in Microsoft News Group worldwide before its discontinuation. I founded the Windows Support UG, a local user group that organizes various events on Microsoft technologies and helps people both online and offline. This user group is GITCA associated and is the only user group in the entire North East India. As an IT Pro Group Leader, GITCA, UG Lead Windows Support User Group is also one of the administrators of merawindows.com. Right now I am actively associated with Microsoft Answers and contribute to Windows Media Center solutions in my blog, mceworld  (http://mymce.wordpress.com/)

I wish more people to participate in forums and user groups so that real people become experts and get real answers.


Q: What does it mean to be a leader of a volunteer organization?

A:  What I have done so far is not for money. I am passionate about Microsoft technologies and products. By helping people, l always learn something and share my knowledge with them. I love challenges and my ultimate dream is to see more people get involved in communities. I shall be very happy to see Indian IT communities rocking.

Q: Can you profile your past awards and why you received them?

A:  I am about 10 years in IT technology with huge experience in Windows technologies, digital media, Entertainment and Connected Home. I received the following awards:
  • My journey started with Microsoft India Community Star Award in 2002. In 2003, I received the Microsoft Most Professional Award on Windows Shell/Users and till 2005, I received the MVP award in this discipline.
  • Since 2006, till last year I received the MVP award on Media Center. In 2009, I also received the Voice of Community Hero Award.
I received all the awards by helping communities. I have worked very hard in my locality to encourage people to participate and get involved in communities. Now they are enjoying it.


Q: How would you describe your top innovative achievements in terms of the problems you were trying to solve, your solutions, and the impact they have today and into the future?

A:  Let me explain to you as a U G lead first: Siliguri is a place which is not well known for IT, so it was my challenge to make the people here aware of Microsoft technologies. By helping users both online as well as offline, I made them attracted towards community activities. Also conducting events and meetings all helped a lot. People here are enjoying our UG. Thatís a great achievement. This suggests that if you have a will, if you are dedicated, if you are passionate, you can achieve the goal.

Finally, coming to my online activities: well it's very challenging and one of the toughest jobs as everything is online. I canít see a user's system in real – in most of the cases the users don't speak about their hardware specs and most of the problems don't match with the conventional problems, so solving problems in such a scenario is always tough. And it's a great pleasure when the user gets satisfied. Many people when faced with similar sorts of problems browse various forums and get benefited, so it has great impact today and will continue if not more in the future.


Q: Why are computers one of your passions and what ignited this passion?

A:  Playing with computers is great fun. When I was young and inexperienced my computer in those days often crashed. I started solving those problems myself. Solving problems, troubleshooting and making people happy has ignited my passion. We started with just three members in our UG and now it has crossed thousands.

Q: You have this strong background in working in technology. Can you quickly profile this history and notable achievements?

A:  I started helping people in various MSN forums in early 2000. In 2002, I got the Microsoft India Community Award. I was awarded Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional Award (MVP) in 2003 and have continued to receive this award every year to date. I was awarded the Voice Of Community Hero Award in April, 2009. And this year I got the Awards for Professionalism: Top of the Mark – Volunteer Award Recipient, from the Network Professional Association (NPA).

Q: Can you profile your current job roles and valuable lessons you wish to share from each role that will benefit the audience?

A:  Actually I have a dual role – one as a teacher and another as an IT Pro group leader. Being a teacher, interaction with students helps me understand their psychology, their problems and solutions. As an IT leader, I face real challenges in the world of computing. Both the roles help me in learning and sharing my knowledge with others. My ultimate goal is to satisfy both.

Q: What are your future career aspirations? What are you most passionate about?

A:  I wish my user group develops more and would love to see more people get involved in the IT field – let them enjoy the real spirit of community. I am most passionate about Microsoft technologies.

Q: From your experiences, what tips would you provide to those who want to excel in their careers as IT professionals to help them in their journey?

A:  If you really want to excel in the IT field, then you must participate in different forums so that you will understand what real world problems are and what the possible solutions are. It's challenging but thrilling if you are tenacious. You will always learn something and your IT skill will definitely flourish.

Q: What are your tips, lessons, and best resources for those wanting a career in computing?

A:  TechNet, MSDN, Microsoft learning are great resources. User groups or forums, IT events etc, help a lot – my advice is to participate in those.

Q: Provide your predictions of future IT trends and their implications/opportunities?

A:  IT is the backbone of future growth in the world. Population is rising, the death rate has come down, and IT is an important tool to reach more people. I am sure it will do more wonders in medical sciences and keep our earth more green.

Q: Please share 3 stories (something surprising, unexpected, amazing, or humorous) from your studies, work, or time with volunteer organizations?

A:  When I first bought my PC it immediately crashed the next day. I called the vendor but they didn't turn up, I was forced to buy a book on Windows 2000. I read it and solved the problem by myself.

I started my user group with just three friends and today it crossed more than 1500 members. It's amazing.

When I first got MVP award in 2002; it really surprised me because I never expected it.


Q: If you were doing this interview, what 3 questions would you ask and then what would be your answers?

A:  
Q1. What is this award and what does it mean?
A1: This award honors the networking professional who has made maximum for the communities through selfless effort. Itís recognition of all my hard work and it will definitely encourage my community members.

Q2: How has community leadership changed my life?
A2: It showed me how to face challenges of building and running a community. It helped me to become a complete man.

Q3: What are the roles and growth of communities in India?
A3: As many Indians are doing wonderful things in the IT world achieving such top awards will definitely help communities to shine more. More Indians will be fascinated and ultimately help communities.


Q: As a prominent leader and MVP, what were your greatest challenges and how did you overcome them?

A:  As I said earlier – I am from a small town, Siliguri, which is in Darjeeling District, West Bengal, India. Here there was no IT activity, no Microsoft events – absolutely nothing. There is no software company, no IT hub. So it was a real challenge for me to set up IT activity here. By creating Windows Support User Group I started trying. I used to help people both online as well as offline. We started with just three members and soon more people started joining us. I organized Microsoft events here and people from my town witnessed what technology could do.

Q: What do you see as the top challenges facing us today and how do you propose they be solved?

A:  
  • Population growth and manpower utilization.
  • Do more at less cost and with less time
  • Creating interest for people to be more active in community work
Innovations in IT - user friendly applications will surely solve these.


Q: Please provide your views on the on professionalizing the profession such as offered by the NPA or IP3.  [http://www.cnp.org/ and  http://www.IPThree.org]

A:  I think this is important. An organized approach always helps. Focused and experienced people should always lead the way for others.

Q: Soumitra, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your substantial wisdom with our audience.

A:  Thank you again for the opportunity!