From Architect To CIO

I was born on March 31, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York. My father was an avionics engineer in the U.S. Army and my mother was a nurse. I grew up in a middle class family. Both parents were born in Trinidad. My grandparents were born in India. Where exactly has been lost. We were indentured servants brought to the Caribbean to harvest sugar cane and have been there since. We have no ties to India.

My father served in Vietnam; one of a handful of Hindus that served. He is American through and through. My mother was trained in England and is also an American. So I am first generation American along with my younger brother.

We moved from Brooklyn to upstate New York when I was 4. My father’s unit was transferred, so the whole moved for a better life. I started school and was one of a few minorities in elementary school.

In high school I discovered industrial drafting and fell in love with it. From there I started taking architectural drafting classes. When my senior year rolled around and the time came to figure out where and what I was going to study I knew I wanted to study architecture.

Architecture like any other sophisticated practice has many sub disciplines i.e. medicine or law. I decided I wanted to be a designer and focused my efforts on understanding the concepts of solid and void and circulation-all concepts which are important to a successful building. Along with this understanding, any design student must learn how to present, project management, engineering, interior design, and history. I graduated and started working immediately as a draftsman/designer.

Like any graduate, I had big dreams to one day design the next famous building. However, I quickly learned that one has to pay bills. I learned that architects do not make huge salaries and work on smaller scale projects. When I graduated there were very projects where there was mass building. Most of the buildings being built were going up in Asia.

I joined a small firm that was specializing in network implementations in architectural, engineering, and construction firms. They needed someone with an architectural background to help transition these firms to CAD and computer networks. This is how I got involved in computers, networks, and data management. It was great. I learned how to repair computers and printers, how to set up networks, how to transition a firm from paper base processing to electronic processing. I was able to leverage my education and make money doing it.

Then in 1997 I joined a financial firm on Park Avenue. Not knowing anything about banking or financial services. This firm was a subsidiary that specialized in middle/large ticket leasing and offered specialized finance to corporate customers. They wanted someone to come onboard and help manage and grow their technology and help move from a paper base process to electronic. So I joined. I was a one man show. I did it all: building servers, racking them, backups, antivirus, email, etc. I was all hands on. I had designed and built a stable network with capacity to grow as business grew. Management loved it. They had a stable infrastructure that allowed them do conduct business. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week I worked and I loved it.

Business started growing and there was a demand for more sophisticated systems: general ledger, accounting, market data, firewalls, disaster recovery sites. So I had to hire more staff to meet demand. Eleven plus years later, I had managed a successful IT operation that had weathered: Y2K, 9-11, blackouts, datacenter outages, upsizing and downsizing, a merger, branch office build out in London, increased regulatory process, and all the intricacies that come along with managing and IT department in a global organization.

So this is my story about how I went from building buildings to building networks.