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Som Gollakota - A Brief History
While this entire website is about me (well... about my thoughts really), as the name suggests, this section contains some information about me in particular. It talks about where I am, where I came from, how I got here, and where I am heading. I will soon be adding more pages to this section that would contain my detailed resume, my personality type and so forth.
Migrated to the United States in 1996 and moved around quite a bit, I currently live in Cleveland, Ohio. I was born and raised in Southern India. While I moved around with my parents quite a few places in the South, most of my high school and college education took place in a small town called Tirupati.
A year after receiving my Bachelor's Degree, I moved to Madras (current day's Chennai) in search of a better job and an actual career. Migrating to the US was not even in my thoughts. All I knew about the US was what I studied at school - US History. Never thought of migrating (or even going or not going) to the US. I had absolutely no opinion, one way or the other, about the US. I just wanted to get a job in the field that thrilled me, and be the best I can be in that field - Computer Programming in C++. For next two years, I struggled to get my footing in my chosen field, and kept learning and building my expertise. Two years and much struggle later, I was looking for a better job, faxed my resume (yes... we were using faxes for sending resumes - no email) to a company in New Delhi. Within next three days, they interviewed me over the phone, flew me to their headquarters in New Delhi, and offered me a job in their California office. They processed my work visa, and shipped me off to the US, a company that I would serve for next 6 years, in various capacities, as a Programmer/Analyst, Tech Lead, and Project Manager, taking me from the Bay Area to Los Angeles suburbs, to South NJ, to North-Central NJ.
Towards the end of 2002, I ventured off on my own as an Industrial Automation Consultant for a couple of years living in upstate NY. While in NY, apart from consulting for GE Fanuc Automation, I also managed to convince my childhood sweetheart to marry me. We got married in 2003 and life became busy with handling new lifestyle at home and my frequent trips to England delivering an order management system for Land Rover.
My wife's life-long dream to work for Microsoft brought us to Washington in early 2005, and helped me realize a long lost dream of my own. After 5 years and working for Microsoft, T-Mobile and Starbucks, I paused my life in Washington (or so I thought) and moved to India (Hyderabad, to be more specific).
While in India, I worked with a few companies mentoring their senior management team in offshore deliveries, building offshore project management and delivery practices, preparing for and facilitating culture change, providing HR best practices geared towards recognizing and fostering the most valuable asset of a company - Human Resources. I also worked with a non-profit organization that works with local schools and colleges mentoring Engineering College students, providing them insights into College Life vs. Professional Life in the real world, and possibilities and opportunities available to them. With the help of some wonderful friends at Microsoft, I also participated in a few Microsoft Giving Campaigns for social causes.
In mid-2011, with the help of my friends at Microsoft, I had an opportunity to conduct a webinar for Project Management Institute (PMI) on Global Diversity and Communication Challenges in Project Management. Conducting this webinar presented me yet another opportunity to serve as a Council Lead for Knowledge Management within PMI's Global Diversity Community of Practice. I ended the year 2011 by moving back to the US, and moving to Cleveland, OH. Today, I live in the suburbs of Cleveland and work as one the IT managers for an Aluminum manufacturing company, helping the CIO define and implementing Intranet strategy for global communication and collaboration, global applications landscape, and changing the IT culture of a company that is state of the art in manufacturing, but decades behind in technology tools.
Life, such as it is, has never been easy, and it never is. Building and maintaining relationships, professional career, spiritual self, never is easy. Life has been filled with ups and downs. But every incident, every event that occurred, every person I met, helped me build and consolidate myself in various aspects of life, including personal relationships, spiritual knowledge, and professional expertise. My learning over many years in these three areas form the basis of this website and my writings.
Background and Values:
Born and raised in a Hindu Brahmin family with traditional values, my parents were my first, best, and most valued teachers. Everything that is good in me today, I owe it to my parents - Religious, spiritual and cultural values, professional ethics, morality, justice, standing up for those who cannot standup for themselves, honesty, sincerity, truthfulness and on goes the list.
For all those that are not so good in me, well... I am pretty much on my own! There have been times when I was misunderstood, or misquoted. That is probably a communication challenge that I have to overcome. Nonetheless, I value who I am, I value everything life has taught me, and proud that, at the core, I have always stood by the values passed down to me by my parents, regardless of the hardships I had to endure while doing so.
Tirupati - My Home Town:
Although a small town, there is hardly any Hindu who hadn't heard of this town. It is the home for one of the holiest places in Hindu faith, with a temple that has a daily income (in the form of donations from devotees) in 100s of thousands of Indian Rupees. During peak festival season, this number sharply rises to a few million a day. The temple runs many charitable organizations worldwide. In town, there is a sort of "restaurant" where free food is available for anyone who is hungry. Thousands, rich and poor alike, dine there everyday. The town itself is located amidst the Eastern mountain ranges of peninsular India, a beautiful place with water falls (when it rains), wildlife (a tiger reserve) and greens. It never snows, but one can take a stroll in the clouds (literally) during winter. I grew up in a house where I could hear the waterfall at night, when everything else is quiet (only after a heavy rain though). I love this town and what it represents, although I haven't visited as often as I would like.