How do you work for an ISP in a place where the Internet infrastructure suffers frequent downtime and Internet use is restricted, in part, by the government? The best advice: Grin and bear it, and find a workaround. That’s the philosophy Sanath Senanayake, this month’s featured TechRepublic member, practices.

As an operations manager for ITMIN Ltd., an ISP in Sri Lanka, Senanayake knows it’s difficult to work with Internet technology in a country that lacks an “acceptable level of communication infrastructure.”

Despite inherent drawbacks in the infrastructure, his organization’s clients demand high-quality services. Many clients employ ITMIN to build and maintain sophisticated Web sites. When the infrastructure breaks down and the pressure from clients grows, Senanayake relies on his marketing background to reassure clients that ITMIN can get the job done.

This tactic of blending marketing and IT skills can help IT professionals find better positions in the IT industry, no matter where they’re located, he said.

“Marketing is kind of a norm for any profession, in my theory,” he said. Read on to find out how marketing can help IT pros and what advice Senanayake has for other TechRepublic members.

Vital statistics

Name: Sanath Senanayake
Title: Operations Manager—Enterprise Internet
Company: ITMIN Internet Services Ltd.
Years in IT: 3.5

Most interesting job: Current position as Operations Manager—Enterprise Internet
Certifications: Diploma in Windows NT 4.0, Certificate in Internet Explorer 4 User
Home page on personal browser:

Favorite TechRepublic features: E-business Monitor, Internet Security Focus, E-commerce Insight
Hobbies: Reading (mostly technical material), swimming, playing cricket
Favorite geek sites: TechRepublic, SiteProNews, HowStuffWorks

TechRepublic: Why do you think marketing and IT skills work well together?
Senanayake: My marketing training and abilities certainly have helped me to conclude sales. One of the advantages I have being knowledgeable in IT is to provide a solution to the customer at the first meeting [so they can] build an adequate confidence in me and the company. My current position (Operations Manager–Enterprise Internet) requires me to have a solid knowledge of computers, networks, e-commerce, and data communication on top of my marketing skills. It is a perfect combination for this particular position because this position is not totally technical or totally marketing.
I appreciate the fact that marketing and technical skills are different. However, every technical person in some way should have some marketing skills to sell himself at least at an interview. Therefore, marketing is kind of a norm for any profession.

TechRepublic: What challenges do you face working in Sri Lanka?
Senanayake: Some of the challenges we encounter are:

  • Telecommunication charges are considerably high. As a result, not many people can afford to surf the Web.
  • ISPs are banned from offering voice-over IP, except for two authorized organizations that obtained the license before the ban.
  • Internet backbone providers have constant problems and downtime.
  • Corporate Web development and Internet connectivity charges can be afforded only by medium-sized (or larger) corporations.

TechRepublic: What words of wisdom would you share with the TechRepublic community?
Senanayake: The best piece of advice I can give other TechRepublic members is to keep up with the emerging technologies, but don’t get lost in the enormous amount of information available on the Net. Be selective and be precise about what information you require and then settle for the best source after careful analysis.

Downtime stories?

Senanayake works in a part of the world where Internet service downtimes are frequent. Do you? How do you handle downtimes or working with a shoddy Internet infrastructure? Tell us your stories by dropping us a line or starting a discussion below.