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Pritam Aulakh

Joined DOC in 1981 - Retired from IC in 2004

 
 

Logging off from Industry Canada
By: Ritinder Harry

 

After more than 33 years of supporting and managing systems, networks, and IT staff, Pritam Aulakh, Regional Manager of Information Technology, is retiring. 

“I’ve been working in this field for a long time - 10 years in the private sector, and 23 years for this department,” explained Pritam, who will be retiring at the end of November. 

“It’s especially funny because I always planned on teaching Math at a College or University!” joked Pritam, who emigrated from India in 1967, securing a full scholarship with the University of British Columbia, Masters of Mathematics program. 

In India, Pritam was a Math Lecturer at the Punjab University College, with plans for pursuing a similar career in Canada. While studying for his Masters, Pritam taught Calculus and Geometry classes at UBC. 

"After completing my Masters, I spent a year studying for my Doctorate in Mathematics. It was then that I decided this career wasn’t for me, and began studying Computer Science," recalls Pritam. 

A number of factors influenced his decision. 

"There was a lot of discrimination at that time” Pritam explained.  “And teaching opportunities were not as readily available as they may be now - at that time, there weren’t as many colleges and universities here in the lower mainland.”

Shortly after graduating, Pritam began working in the IT field with a number of private-sector companies, including a consulting firm, McGavins Foods Ltd and the Hudson’s Bay Company. 

"In 1981, when I first began my career with the Department of Communications, there was only one terminal - and cell phones, palm pilots, and e-mail were non existent!" laughed Pritam. “It’s probably very difficult for younger staff to imagine not having their own computer - but it wasn’t until 1983 that this department began implementing new technology.”

A very humble man, Pritam credits both past and present team members in implementing this transition. “Shila Asnani and Eric Goh were the first ones to join me in this effort. And then there was Carey Tokiwa and Albert Tam. When they moved on, Chris Chan and Danny Pon joined us.” Pritam went on to explain the role both Chris and Danny played in implementing new tools and technology. “We were later joined by Kevin Pridgeon, Simon Evans, Harminder Rode and Fred Sterling,” recalled Pritam. “Each one of these team members has made tremendous contributions in implementing the present day tools and technology that we use in our day to day work.” 

Pritam also spoke of spending more time with his family during his retirement. “My wife has already retired, so we’ll both be able to enjoy retirement together,” he explained. “My daughters are all busy with their careers and school, so retirement will allow me to have a much more flexible schedule to spend more time with them.” Pritam’s oldest is a Clinical Psychologist, his middle daughter is working on her Doctorate in School Children Psychology at McGill University, and the youngest is a Secondary School Teacher.

Pritam also volunteers his time with a number of youth mentoring programs and community organizations, including Racial Justice and InterFaith Society and the Vancouver Ecumenical Society. Pritam was also a member of the ISV Board (Information Services, Vancouver) for 13 years, serving as the technical chair for 11 of those years. During this time, ISV went through 4 major technical database migrations, including the publishing of RED BOOK.

In his retirement, Pritam plans on traveling to Newfoundland, PEI, and Alaska as well as areas in B.C. “My wife and I have also been discussing a trip to Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand sometime in the near future,” explained Pritam.

Congratulations on your many accomplishments Pritam - we wish both you and your wife all the best in your retirement!

 

On November 23, 2004, a lunch was held in Pritam's honor at Milestones in Yaletown. Over 50 people, including Pritam's wife, daughter, and past colleagues were in attendance.  We've included some pictures below. 

 

 

 

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