an IT Career...
Interview by Stephen
This week, Stephen Ibaraki, ISP, has an exclusive interview with Peter Rakoczy
Director, Microsoft Consulting Services, Microsoft Canada Co.
Peter, thank you for agreeing to this interview. For those just starting their
careers in IT, can you describe your career and the decisions you made to reach
your current position at Microsoft?
A. I started my career in the IT
department of a large, financial institution. I had a passion for the technology
and how it could be applied to business and other areas. Through a variety of
roles as a sole contributor I was exposed to several aspects of technology and
different parts of the business. Management was a natural transition for me as I
enjoyed working with people and taking on challenging tasks.
position, I was able to work with a number of technology companies and see how
they operated. I particularly enjoyed working with the smaller technology
companies and I decided to join a company called, LinkAge Software Inc. This was
a difficult decision for me because I really enjoyed working with my previous
company and had been treated very well. Ultimately, I decided to join LinkAge
because technology was their business and that’s what I had understood best. I
also wanted the experience of working for a smaller company where it was clear
to see the impact of my contribution.
At LinkAge, I was able to work in a
variety of roles including Product Development Manager, Product Manager, and
Services Director. It was an excellent experience as it gave me a view to all
aspects of a technology company including product development, sales, marketing,
customer support, consulting, human resources and back office
LinkAge was acquired by Microsoft almost five years ago,
at which time I joined as a Managing Consultant in Microsoft Consulting Services
(MCS) in Toronto. Prior to the acquisition, I had not thought much about working
for Microsoft but had grown to respect the company and where it was heading. My
own research confirmed that Microsoft would be a good fit for me at that point
in my career based on Microsoft’s progress in enterprise computing and the
combination of my large customer, and small technology company
At Microsoft, I progressed through the role of Practice
Manager to my current position as Director of Microsoft Consulting Services for
Canada. In addition to my responsibilities of running the practice, I am a
member of the Canadian Leadership Team which provides strategy and direction for
Q. What 10 tips can you provide to others that
helped you in your path to success?
1. Do what you love to do.
realistic about your own strengths and weaknesses and develop both.
accountable and acknowledge mistakes.
4. Make decisions for the right reasons
– do the right thing. Career advancement is a by-product of doing the right
thing – not the end in itself.
5. Observe the best traits of everyone you
come across and decide which traits to emulate.
6. Develop your own style
based on your unique combination of capabilities.
7. Take some risks and be
8. Accept feedback without being defensive.
when it is the time to take a stand, and then take the stand with passion. Pick
10. Don’t let things happen to you, make things
Q: What time commitment is required for your position and
what does your family think about this?
A: It is no secret that Microsoft
is a very intense work environment and that my position requires that I spend a
lot of time working including travel. It is important that your family
understands and supports what you do. I am fortunate in that I have that
support. My wife is a part-time, Small Claims Court Judge, but spends the
majority of her time at home with our three children and managing our home life.
This makes it possible for me to spend the time I do on my work.
it by ensuring that I am home each night to spend a couple of hours with the
kids. After they go to bed, I usually do e-mail and other work that I have. On
the weekends, I am focused on being a father and husband although I am back on
the computer on Sunday nights.
Would I like more time to spend with my
family? Absolutely! The reality of this industry is that there are demands for
long hours. I also believe in a strong work ethic and wish to be a good role
model for my children in this regard, but not at their expense. I believe it
works for us because I love what I do at Microsoft, am committed to my family
and have their support.
Q: Where do you see Microsoft, strategically
in 2001 and where do you want Microsoft to be in 2003, and 2005?
is an exciting time for Microsoft as the vision for the .NET strategy is gaining
traction with our customers and partners. The building blocks are gradually
coming into place with the .NET servers and Visual Studio.NET. Customers are
keenly interested in Web Services and have come to us for the industry
leadership we have demonstrated in this important area.
In 2001, we are
driving many key solutions including Enterprise Application Integration,
Supplier Enablement, and Corporate Portals. We are assisting many customers in
laying the .NET foundation with Windows XP, Active Directory, BizTalk Server and
SQL Server. Visual Studio.NET, was widely adopted as a beta tool and has just
been launched to market.
In the longer term, we will be promoting My .NET
Q: How will Microsoft’s consulting services evolve over
time for businesses and how will you shape this process?
Consulting Services’ roots are in technology. Obviously, we have a very deep
understanding of the Microsoft technologies and how they fit into Enterprise
customer environments. As we move along, we are developing a greater
understanding of industry verticals and the specific needs of those customers.
Our customers are asking us to demonstrate to them how our technology can help
their core businesses.
Microsoft overall is moving toward a solutions
orientation. In order to provide a compelling solution to a customer, you must
show an understanding of their business. We will continue to maintain a strong
technology foundation in the practice, but with increased business awareness to
better serve our customers.
We are also moving into more strategic
opportunities as our technology has evolved to provide a viable platform for the
most demanding solutions. Our commitment to the partner model only increases as
we move forward to provide the necessary services capacity and skills that our
market demands. I foresee much more co-engagement with partners and MCS as we
take on larger and more complex projects.
MCS will provide key
architectural services, quality assurance and risk mitigation for projects
involving Microsoft technologies.
Q: What advise would you give to
businesses as they plan their own evolution in the next five years?
advice would be to really consider how technology can become tightly integrated
to the business and truly act as an enabler for new business opportunities. I
believe that businesses need to really treat technology and business planning as
a single, seamless exercise to truly create the most compelling products and
I would also recommend designing an open and extensible
technology architecture that provides interoperability with multiple legacy and
state-of-the-art platforms. Every company should also have a Web Services
strategy, both for internal use and connection to customers and partners.
Do you have specific technologies and processes they should watch out
for and implement?
The key foundation technologies to learn are XML and
SOAP. In terms of key implementations to learn from Microsoft, I would say
Visual Studio.NET and BizTalk Server are very important technologies along with
Content Management Server and Active Directory.
My Services will provide
some of the key common services required in the .NET/Web Services world as we
Q: What are your top ten recommended resources for IT
administrators and developers?
1. MSDN (especially for developers)
4. www.microsoft.com/net/defined/default.asp (.NET
5. www.microsoft.com/enterprise/ (Microsoft in the
6. www.microsoft.com/vstudio (Visual Studio .NET)
www.mircosoft.com/servers/ (.NET Servers)
9. http://www.microsoft.com/windows (Microsoft
Windows)http://office.microsoft.com (Microsoft Office)
Q: It’s a
blank slate, what added comments would you like to give to enterprise
corporations and organizations?
A: When you take a close look at what is
under the covers of .NET, Microsoft truly has redefined what an open standards
platform means. By re architecting the Microsoft Windows platform to be fully
Internet Standard compliant and combining that with a robust and powerful
runtime software engine (.NET Framework) capable of supporting over 22
programming languages today, and finally rounding it off with the worlds most
advanced software development tool suite, Visual Studio .NET, software
developers have once again been flocking back to the Microsoft Windows platform.
Microsoft has listened clearly to software developers from all corners of the
world, and Microsoft has been hearing that to reach the next level of agility in
software development and implemented features, software development tools must
be themselves agile and to accomplish this there must be strict adherence to
industry standards. Microsoft has reached the highest level of heterogeneity by
tightly binding the entire .NET product family with one language, from operating
system to infrastructure and runtime framework to industry standard XML and the
W3C endorsed Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) for developing Industry
standard Web Services. “In simple words, Web Services are ‘remotely executed
programs’ that are easy to build and use with the Microsoft .NET platform and
what is most exciting is that Microsoft offers an Industry standard way to make
two or more programs talk to each other, any where, any time, any place, and
with any device.” Explained Michael Flynn, Sr. Product Manager Developer Tools,