How did you get into IT in the first place?
I remember it like it was yesterday. Pulling apart my parents computer just for a technical challenge. I labelled every part with tape and arrows for which way the connectors went back together right down to removing the board. When I was at high school I was confronted with the choice of which path to chose for university/college. I chose IT as my field of choice as I was getting good grades and spent most of my weekends learning how to hide certain folders on the parents computer, attrib + h etc.
After my tertiary education I started at the bottom of the pack and just worked my way up, changing focus every few years to something new until I got here. Who knows where I'm going now!
How did you get into working with VMware and becoming a 2011 vExpert?
A few jobs ago I was fortunate to start as a sysadmin who inherited a VMware 3.02 environment that was growing. In my early days there I upgraded to 3.5 and really cut my teeth. I distinctly remeber the timebomb issue and
where i was at the time. I was busy trying to solve the issue until it became apparent that this was a pretty big one (ahh memories). Before I left I was pretty well versed in VMware and we had done upgrades to vSphere with a new hardware refresh (blades) and a new SAN. PowerCLI really helped even in those early stages.
I moved on to become a VMware/Storage SME and generally was repsonsible for customer designs and menotring the ops guys in the team. From there I contracted to NetApp as the VMware SME for the government project we were tasked with and also got the opportunity to learn a lot of what NetApp does and how it works. My storage knowledge has increased quite a bit because of it. I still sit here today in that role.
During the last few years as my addiction and product knowledge grew I paid more attention to the community, mainly twitter etc and conferences such as vForum, VMUGs and bloggin my experiences in the field. I think a combination of my community efforts helped me be recognised with my first vExpert award in 2011. It was a welcome surprise and I am grateful for the recognition. I am a firm believer it is not a recognition of technical competency or expertise but the willingness to 'spread the word' as it were beyond your normal day job.
What would you tell someone who wanted to get a job like yours to do?
I think there are two types of people in IT. Those who are happy doing their job and those who can challenge themselves outside of their role. I believe and have seen time and time again that the people who are constantly pushing themselves to learn more, achieve more and push the boundaries whilst still performing the roles of their job will get ahead quicker than most. To that end I think people always need to have a vision of where they are heading. I know I said before I don't, but I jest, I certainly do have my own plans and goals for the short, mid and long term.
The one thing I have learnt is to ask questions, challenge thought process's and try and think outside the box. I find people don't mind responding to questions when you've made an effort to determine the resolution yourself. Your understanding of the problem is never a problem its your willingness to think for yourself that often drives people mad. Those who can think for themselves and ask direction when required are the ones who learn fast.