Chin-Fah Heoh is a managing consultant, chairman of SNIA (Malaysia), and a technical storage blogger residing in Kuala Lumpur.
What’s your IT origin story? How long have you been in the field?
I was supposed to take up mechanical engineer at Leicester University in the UK to help out the family business in 1987. My uncle advised me to consider Computer Science. I did and I ended up at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, getting my BSc in 1991 with minors in Mathematics and International Marketing.
I started in 1992 as a support engineer with a Sun distributor.
What’s been the biggest change in IT since you started your career?
Being the first “overseas” graduate as a support engineer, I was often heckled and was not given much of a chance by the seniors. I was not sure if it was envy, but they were in their own group. I was very fortunate for a particular Mr. Diong, a senior who took me under his wings and taught me so much about the Sun SPARC architecture at the time, as well as SunOS (before it was even Solaris)
Current worst trend in IT?
The Asia landscape is less receptive to consultants like me. I do solutions creation, architect and design, performance and sizing and more advanced stuff. The advent of the cloud has made it even less receptive, and consulting work has been hard to come by.
Current best trend in IT?
There are plenty of opportunities out there. Data analytics, IoT, deep learning, edge computing, HPC and more. Unfortunately I have to pick up the skills and experience, and this takes my time and resources to build that reputation.
How do you approach organization at work? What are your must use apps? How do you approach organization?
Over the past 7-8 years, I have consciously build my own personal branding and business networking. I have been running or actively involved online technology communities – SNIA (10 years), OpenStack (5 years), AWS User Group (3 years), Big Data (5 years), Deep Learning & Tensor Flow (4 months). I also run quarterly SNIA meetups and workshops and is a frequent speaker in the local and regional South Asia technology circle. Through word-of-mouth, I get introductions to approach organizations. My blog, storagegaga.com helped too.
I am a big stickler to time management and scheduling. Outlook Calendar is a must. No particular app has been more useful than Outlook.
What’s your ideal workspace?
I can work pretty much anywhere. When I want to be creative and hacking stuff together, I would prefer my current apartment for the peace and quiet.
Book recommendations for other IT pros (besides The Phoenix Project?). What are you reading now?
I love deep technical books, especially on OS kernel designs and file systems. I also love the marketing books by Seth Godin. My favorites are “Tribe” and “Permission Marketing”. I have also just finished “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella on my trip here.
First computer you owned.
I have little attachment to the computers I owned, but I did have sentimental feelings for a Sun SPARCstation 2 between 1993-1995, and I have a faulty Sun X4150 in my office now.
What do you do when you’re not working in IT?
I like to read non-fiction stuff. I also work with children who have learning disorders, mostly with autistic children. I took a Diploma course in Learning Disorders back in 2008. I have not had the time to work with them for 6-7 years now. My priority is to put my 2 children through college now.
I also like to run alone. On the roads and some trails. Usually 5-10 kms
How do you caffeine?
I am not a heavy coffee drinker and don’t have any special preference. I do love a local iced coffee from a nearby Chinese coffee shop where they blend Arabica with butter. I am usually there on early weekend mornings
Who do you want to see answer these questions?
Everyone. Everyone has a story to share, and the experiences and their journey which defined who they are. Many would like their loved ones to understand why they did the things they did.
Best career advice you’ve received.
It don’t really have any advise I’ve received but more like a lesson from the actions of a few bosses I admired. They were accountable for the mistakes I have made as a junior engineer, and I was grateful they protected me from the wrath of customers. And they took the time to impart their wisdom to me. Over the years, I applied the same practice to my people when they make mistakes.
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