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My Journey as an IBM Z Champion

By Subhasish Sarkar posted 22 days ago

  
At the time of writing this blog, I have already been enjoying the pleasure and privilege of being a proud IBM Z Champion for two consecutive years in a row, 2020 and 2021 (and hopefully many more to come)! And an absolute fantastic journey it has been. Knowing that I have been deeply engaged with the community and passionately sharing my knowledge about the IBM Z technology over the years gives me an amazing sense of accomplishment and achievement. And here I am today, trying to pen down in a blog, all my experiences of advocacy and giving back to the community in whatever means and ways I can.

IBM Champion

Content Creation
For quite a few years now, I have been writing blogs, articles, and tutorials for renowned, industry-recognized websites and communities: (former) IBM DESTINATION z - z SYSTEMS COMMUNITY, IBM Z and LinuxONE Community (IBM Community), Planet Mainframe (https://www.planetmainframe.com/), TechChannel, IBM Developer website, to name a few. Till date, I have published 35 blogs/articles and 6 tutorials.

I have been a FEATURED MEMBER of IBM DESTINATION z - z SYSTEMS COMMUNITY. Numerous articles and tutorials of mine have been featured in the Virtual IMS USER GROUP Newsletter and TechBeat Enterprise (formerly Z EXTRA) editions. I have been recognized as one of the very few ‘Contributors’ of the renowned and esteemed PLANET MAINFRAME Website (Contributors - Planet Mainframe).

Webinars
Webinars have always been a great source of disseminating information and it is, therefore, no surprise that over the years, I have been conducting webinars from time to time; webinars that are FREE to attend for anybody who wish to. I make it a point to record all my webinars for anybody who wishes to watch those later at his/her leisure. Till date, I have conducted and recorded six webinars.

Speaking at Conferences & Events
I have been routinely speaking at major, renowned conferences and events; the yearly IBM Z Day event being one of those. Speaking at conferences and events have always provided me with the opportunity to share knowledge with a larger, geographically diverse audience. Till date, I have been a speaker/panelist at 13 different events.

IBM Z Day Speaker


Managing a Facebook Technical Community/Page
I own and manage a Facebook Technical Community/Page, ‘IBM Mainframe Nitty Gritties’, on everything IBM Z Mainframes. Everybody with an interest on the IBM Z Mainframes are welcome to visit, like, share and contribute to the IBM Mainframe Nitty Gritties Page. "IBM Mainframe Nitty Gritties" provides a platform to all the IBM Z Mainframe lovers out there to be able to share news and knowledge about everything Mainframes.

What is "IBM Mainframe Nitty Gritties" all about? Well, "IBM Mainframe Nitty Gritties" is for anything and everything Mainframes. So, if someone is a seasoned IBM Z Mainframe professional, he/she can share his/her technical expertise on "IBM Mainframe Nitty Gritties". If someone is new to the fascinating world of IBM Z Mainframes, he/she can learn from the real-world Mainframe experts at "IBM Mainframe Nitty Gritties". Or, if anyone simply wants to share something informative or interesting about the IBM Z Mainframes, he/she can go ahead and do that on "IBM Mainframe Nitty Gritties". "IBM Mainframe Nitty Gritties" welcomes all who are simply passionate about IBM Z Mainframes and encourages to engage and start sharing IBM Z Mainframe knowledge and news.

Mentoring
It has been a real honor and privilege for me to be a ‘Vets in Tech’ mentor (Home · VetsinTech). Till date, I have successfully mentored 6 mentees and each mentoring assignment stretched on for three months. Outside ‘Vets in Tech’, I am involved in the ongoing mentoring of a few students too. Mentoring has always been one of those very satisfying experiences to me; there can be nothing more rewarding than helping someone fulfill their cherished dreams and succeed in life.

Being a Judge for Hackathons and Tech Event Competitions
I have also lent my time being a judge for IBM Master the Mainframe 2020 (MTM 2020) contest, Geo 'MEA' and HACK4SPACE 2021 Data Science Online Hackathon event.

HACK4SPACE Online Hackathon 2021 judge


Teaching
I have conducted classes on "IMS DB Application Programming basics with COBOL as the Programming Language". Throughout the entire course, I had covered the basic concepts of "IMS DB Application Programming". I had used COBOL as the programming language. The course had spanned into nine separate sessions over 8 days and all the sessions were delivered online.

All my classes were FREE to attend. I did not charge a single penny from any of the attendants. The sole purpose behind conducting the classes was to make people aware of the basic skills required to start with IMS DB Application Programming so that more professionals are interested working in IMS. Around 100 candidates benefitted from my classes.


How do I make time for giving back to the community?
I must state here that I have a day job that I need to take care of. I am a full-time employee working at BMC Software. That means that I must manage the above-mentioned long list of voluntary activities after I have taken good care of my day-to-day responsibilities at my job. I am, therefore, very often asked the inevitable question: that how I make and manage time for giving back to the community in so many ways. And the key to that is, Planning.

I usually plan well in advance the type of activities that I am going to engage myself in the coming couple of months. Yes, I maintain a rolling two-month plan. There always are minor modifications to the plan here and there, but that is manageable. The key for me here is, if I have a plan, I know how to find time out to achieve that I must accomplish.

However, that one thing that I must say transcends everything else is the innate passion and zeal to give back to the community; that passion comes from within, and it is that fire of passion that thrusts you to sail forward. The enthusiasm to do something meaningful for the technical community around you comes from inside you; no one can force that upon you – it simply doesn’t work that way. We must understand that all the above-mentioned acts of advocacy and support for the community are voluntary services that I do, and I don’t get paid for any of such services. So, had I not been driven by a strong sense of passion and commitment to do something meaningful for the community and instead, someone had to force that unto me, I am sure that I wouldn’t be doing all that I am doing. I believe that when you have the passion and enthusiasm to make a difference, the lack of time is only going to be an excuse (and a lame one).

But let’s be very clear and honest – I do have to make sacrifices. I often need to work extra hours on the weekdays after completing all my day job responsibilities. I often work on weekends too. I have often presented at events way past midnight my local time. As I have said previously, the zeal, passion, and enthusiasm to make a difference must come from within you; nobody can force that upon you!


What drives me to give back to the community?
Apart from an unbiased feeling of a deep sense of satisfaction and selflessness, which in themselves are motivations enough for me to be willing to go that extra mile, I have gained many invaluables over the years while in my effort to give back to the community.

  1. I have learnt to manage and respect time. I have learnt to always make the best possible use of time to help achieve things that matter to me the most.
  2. I have had the pleasure and privilege to network with hundreds of professionals around the globe.
  3. I have had countless opportunities to share my knowledge and expertise globally across industries. People start recognizing you as a leader and technical expert.
In fact, IBM recognized my contributions to the technical community when I was declared to be an IBM Z Champion for the very first time in 2020, and later again in 2021. Being an IBM Champion has always been a moment of great pride for me and one of those moments that you cherish for a lifetime.

And further rewarding my contributions, I have been featured in IBM’s “Champions in Action” series as a first time IBM Champion for Z. I have also been featured in the former IBM Systems magazine, IBM Z as a 2020 First-Time IBM Z Champion. I have been featured in the "What Makes an IBM Champion" series video from IBM. It was an absolute honor and privilege for me to be a part of the 'zTalk with Reg Harbeck' podcast, "Subhasish Sarkar on Being Active as a Mainframer". This got published in the December 1, 2020 Z EXTRA Newsletter (powered by IBM Systems MEDIA). In the podcast, Reg Harbeck talks with me about how I stumbled into working on the mainframe, how I share my technical expertise and my interest in quantum computing. I have also been featured in the "IBM Champions: 2021 Tech Trends and Disruptions" series video from IBM.


So, are you the ‘selflessly giving back to the community’ type of person? Yes, but haven’t started contributing yet? Don’t wait! The experiences are both rewarding and satisfactory. Anyone looking for any assistance is free to get in touch with me. I will gladly assist.

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Inspiring story and motivates us to become part of such a journey !