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5 Things you might not know about me

It’s the festive season as well as the silly season, i.e. people are less stressed. It seems that there is a game of blog-tag going around the blogsphere in which bloggers are sharing 5 things about themselves that relatively few people know, and then tagging five other bloggers to it. David Terrar tagged me yesterday asking 5 things that typical reader of my blog might not know about me. Here goes:

  1. I went to a primary school in Sri Lanka called Gothami Kanishta Vidyalaya (GKV). Kanishta means primary. Vidyalaya means School. Gothami is a name of a woman. In fact its the name of the step mother of Prince Siddhartha, who looked after the Prince since his mother passed away when he was only 7 days old. Prince Siddhartha later became the Lord Buddha. In Sri Lanka, there is segregation between sexes when it comes to top schools. After Grade 5 (same as Year 5), I joined Royal College, the largest and the best (subjective, of course!) boys school in Sri Lanka. I was always conscious about GKV  (because it had a woman’s name) and therefore only spoke of my time at Royal College.
  2. I came to UK in 1988 because I was not qualified to do an Engineering Degree in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, every parent wants their child to be a doctor, engineer or a lawyer. This created such a high level of competition, that you have to have exceptional results to get in to a Sri Lankan University. So, my father enrolled me to Brighton University (it only became a University in my final year, previously a Polytechnic). First few weeks were tough. I stayed with an English family for several weeks and they thought I was a son of an ambassador. How weird! I used to get up very early when I was in Sri Lanka. Rules of the English family was that I was not to use the facilities until they use it first in the morning. Good way to learn to control one’s bladder. Getting used to traditional English food was bit of a nightmare. After three weeks or so, I moved to university accommodation. Took me three years to start liking bake beans. How sad is that? Talking about bake beans, I was training at Alcatel in France in 1993 (after graduation) when one of the British trainers went on and on about how he missed Heinz bake beans…
  3. I became the Lead Engineer for designing control, command, non-vital signalling and communications systems for South Leeds Supertram after 30 minutes introduction to such systems from a senior Engineer. He buggered off on holiday whilst I learn quickly to design, specify, evaluate quotes and put together relevant proposals for our consortium’s bid to build and operate the Supertram. Luckily, we lost the concession. Then went on a weekly training course and won the concession for Croydon Tramlink. I did the initial design works for Croydon Tramlink including choosing Syseca as the contractor for all light current systems, roughly worth £10m in mid 90s, best project I worked on.
  4. In 1999, I managed to get out of a project I inherited from a predecessor, when I was working for Parsons Corporation in the United Arab Emirates. The project was to design and supervise a SCADA System for one of the Emirates’s potable water networks. PB Kennedy & Donkin was managing the Electricity SCADA, which was delayed due to many reasons. This resulted in our project been delayed intentionally by the client. This was costing us a small fortune (having revised the bid/design documents four times) that could not recover from the client due to the contract I inherited. The client was threatening to blacklist us if we withdrew. We won at the end by withdrawing – we managed to convinced them that having worked on the electricity SCADA system, the client’s engineers were well experienced to continue with the project without having to pay us consultancy fees for the next phase. Later that year I joined PB Kennedy & Donkin and few months after I inherited the Electricity SCADA project. Talk about change of fortunes! It was in complete shambles. Everybody lost a fortune (us the consultant, contractor and client).
  5. Before Autumn 2002, I did not know what an ERP system was, even though the company I worked for used Oracle Financials. This is when I started my Executive MBA at Manchester Business School. First module I took was on Management Information Systems, which touched ERP systems. Some of my classmates knew much more about software and ERP systems than the bunch of lectures we had, especially learning about the legacy systems at Barclays and the astronomical cost of maintenance. Two years after, I was setting the building blocks of designing a solution to integrate ERP systems.

That should do it. Bit wordy though! So who can I tag. Let’s go for Dave Stephens of Coupa, Philip Hemsted of Yuuguu, Paul Walsh of Segala, Ivan Pope of Snipperoo, and Gary Turner of Pegasus.

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