Today we bring you an interview with Anthony Cooray. As a manager from our Melbourne, Australia office, Anthony leads the team of technical support engineers for the Japanese region. With a self-confessed passion for software, he stays busy working with teams all across the organization to improve the products as well as support. Of course he's as "driven" in his spare-time as he is on the clock, as you'll see below. And don't forget to check out some of our previous interviews too!
I am the Technical Support Manager for Japan. In this role I have the responsibility of ensuring the efficient and effective delivery of support to our client base in Japan. Support is provided with the help of a number of support and development teams located around the world. I work with all these teams.
When did I join:
I joined IBM Rational in 2006
Before moving to the current role, I was the Asia-Pacific Support Manager for Rational Clearcase and Clearquest.
What I am working on:
There are 2 areas that I am focusing on: One is on creating more technical content in local language, the second is to provide more effective support when a large number of IBM products are involved in a solution.
I usually start around 7:30AM and check my emails from the previous night and do any needed meetings with my colleagues in the US. Then, I go for a swim or walk and restart around 10AM. Most of my day will be occupied with emails and calls with clients, TSE's, peer managers, Sales and Tech Reps, other IBM support teams, development teams etc. I stop at around 6PM but work for 1-2 hours later in the night to take care of any issues that come late.
Project I am proud of:
When I came into this role, one of my major focus areas was to reduce our average time to solution given by support. Over the past 2 years we have to managed to reduce this time by nearly half. That is very satisfying.
Biggest Problem Solved:
In a support role we only have a few hours to solve a given problem and we handle hundreds of such problems. During my days as a support engineer, I used to support a product family that had 10 support staff in America, 8 in Europe and only myself in Asia. For over 3 years I handled all severity 1 issues from all over the world all on my own during my work hours. There was a lot of pressure to recover the systems fast and I had no one next to my desk to pull some ideas. However, it was also a great experience talking to clients from all over the world.
Biggest Problem ahead:
We have a lot of new and exciting products both created in-house and acquired. I am sure there will be many more to come. As the number of products and technology layers increase, we need to keep discovering new ways to effectively support those.
Are you a gadget person:
I would not say that I am a gadget person as such, but my Blackberry is great!
What types of gadgets do you use:
Not sure if it can be called a gadget, but I have built a Home Cinema, and watching sports and movies in large screen with surround sound at home has been a lot of fun. I watched the Soccer world cup final and it was great in High Definition on a big screen.
Gadgets that I cannot live without:
Blackberry perhaps is the gadget that I will miss although I have now come to take it for granted.
Coolest piece of tech news:
The recent story about IBM Jeopardy machine was very interesting. The way Statistics are used to arrive at the answers was very cool.
Recent Technologies that interest me:
I have always had an interest in man-machine interaction I am looking forward to the day when I can get rid of my mouse and do everything by touch and voice or anything else that will be more natural. It is good to see touch devices become popular and getting into the mainstream.
Technology that should get more attention:
Voice Recognition has become really good recently. I can use Dragon to do Sametime chats when working at home.
If you were stuck in technology deprived island:
Nothing that I currently own. I have for the most part stayed away from the Apple bandwagon so far although I get to play with them since both my son and daughter use nothing but Apple.. I am planning to buy an iPad soon mostly due to the new UI and having all my books, magazines, movies etc., in one gadget and operating them by touch should keep me happy in the island.
Biggest surprise in the technology industry:
The speed at which Virtualisation has spread even to the middle and lower end of the market has surprised me.
What is on your nightstand for reading:
A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram ........We have gone past 500 years with the current method of building knowledge.
Whenever I get a long holiday, I like driving very long distances. In January this year I had 3 weeks off and drove 8000km's from Eastern Australia to Western Australia and back. I am still not sure why I like this when air travel is so cheap. I was born in a small island country and that may give a clue.. Also in summer I do kayaking in the weekends. In winter I do a bit of hiking on mountain trails with my wife.
Use of Social Networking:
I am not an active user but it has helped me get back in touch with a lot of people I had lost touch with. They are in many corners of the world. In fact I was quite active in during the text only internet days.
Do you have any big plans for the future:
Nothing that big but one dream left is to write a book. I have the outline in my head and don't want to go into detail here and it's not going to happen anytime soon either..
What am I doing to make the Planet Smarter:
In an indirect way, help clients build great applications that make the world more intelligent. Sometime in the future I wish I can make a more direct contribution via analytics and leverage my past investments in learning statistics..
Publications Websites frequented:
The Economist is one thing I have been reading for nearly 2 decades. It is not a pure economics magazine and has insightful articles on many general topics. I also browse a couple of websites regularly to keep updated on what is happening in our industry.
Getting answers to my questions:
These days, first thing that come into the mind is Google. . I keep trying other engines but amazed at how Google returns exactly what I am looking for at the top. How do they read my mind? When I need more authoritative sources, I go to a number of academic databases available online.
What inspires me to work at Rational:
The world is increasingly dependent on software. To make even a small contribution to advance the world by helping build better software is a worthy cause.
Software has been although more from a social perspective than a pure technology perspective. After all, software can bring a lot of change to humans and society and it is my belief that a platform such as Jazz was inspired by the desire to improve productivity through better ways of human interaction.
In personal life it is Inner Happiness. At work it is satisfied clients who make the best use of our products and solutions and grow with us.