Member’s Corner takes a closer look at D.I.S.S Alumni’s 200 members. This week features Chimdi Ifeakanwa from Class of 1997.
How would you describe yourself?
A very laid back, easy going young man, who loves life, loves God, loves his family, loves what he does, and is always willing to try new things. Hard worker to a fault, and passionate about a lot of things.
What are your academic qualifications?
I hold two degrees and numerous IT certifications. My first degree is in Computer Network Engineering Technology from Cincinnati State, and the second is in Business Information Systems from Indiana Wesleyan. CompTIA A+ certification, Microsoft Certified Professional are some of my certifications.
Are you a member of any association?
While in school, I was a very active member of the Black Data Processors Association (BDPA). I volunteered my time to the Habitat for Humanity organization (non-profit organization that aids less privileged families by building their homes and assisting in various capacities. I built homes in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania). I donate to charities when I can and I volunteer in my daughter’s marching band association as a pit crew member (we coordinate the entire equipment storage, transportation and logistics for the high school band of 400 musicians). I also belong to a lot of IT-based groups and forums like the HPE branch of Vivit and BMC software’s Control-M community.
What are your job experiences and where do you work presently?
I have been in the information technology field for over 19 years. The work I did ranged from a helpdesk analyst to owning my own IT company and finally working as the Director of Global IT Infrastructure for Sun Chemical. Below are some of these job experiences with the responsibilities elaborated for the most current position:
- Director, Global IT Infrastructure – Sun Chemical Corp
As the Director of Global IT Infrastructure at Sun Chemical Corp, my role is to drive technical innovation and growth through strong leadership, by implementing technology, product and managed services to meet goals set forth by ambitious IT strategies, in areas covering infrastructure operations, cybersecurity and digital transformation.
- Oversee all infrastructure planning, development, enhancement, and maintenance efforts across the centralized infrastructure operations group (This covers 256 locations in 65 countries and supports over 10K employees).
- Administer IT infrastructure operating and capital budget
- Advise the CIO on the benefits, risks, and costs of all major IT infrastructure projects and drive strategy for infrastructure, telecommunication and data centers. Ensure solution alternatives have been carefully considered and that the chosen solution minimizes the cost of ownership.
- Participate in Architecture governance bodies (e.g. Architecture Review Board) to weigh-in on the financial and budgetary implications of technical architecture decisions.
- Participate in the IT Portfolio Management Council to collaborate on prioritization and approval decisions for strategic projects and large infrastructural enhancements.
- Understand current customer operations and technology challenges with regards to all aspects of the IT infrastructure.
- Participate in the Cyber Security Council to aid in the advancement of our cybersecurity initiatives.
- Advise the CIO on strategic could initiatives that extend our capabilities into all layers of the “as-a-service” architecture.
- Senior Manager, Global Information Technology Infrastructure
- Manager, SAP BASIS Support
- SAP Technical Operations Lead
- IT/Manufacturing IT System Engineer
- Network Engineer
- CEO/CIO Chimdi Technologies
What other things keep you busy outside your regular work?
Being a father of 3 wonderful children, I take every available moment to spend as much time with them as I can. I am very involved with my kids and take pride in watching them grow and flourish into young women. I am at a lot of extracurricular activities like sports (soccer, diving, gymnastics, band competitions, music symphonies and more). My amazing wife and I also like to spend time going to shows, musicals and more. I am also a bit of a foodie, so I can be seen at events that open my mind up to food from various parts of the world. I love to travel, and I’m currently covering Europe and Asia.
What projects have you handled?
With more than 19 years of core IT experience, I have participated, managed, and funded numerous projects. Here are some summaries:
- Global Data Center consolidation projects
- Global Data Center technology refreshes
- Various SAP ECC upgrades
- Document archiving implementation projects
- Various manufacturing system SCADA deployments
- Hyper-converged infrastructure projects
- Application design and development projects
- Various cloud deployments (Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and Platform as a service (PaaS) projects)
- Business services management projects (using workload automation platforms)
- Various database migration and installation projects
- Various acquisition IT work from a foundation projects perspective
- Disaster recovery and high availability projects
Which of your project was the most challenging and why?
In general, every project that I have been a part of has its unique challenges and can all fit the title of most challenging. In my line of work, nothing we do is easy and usually poses enough challenges that require innovation. However, for the purposes of this interview, I guess I can pick one of my projects.
I was a part of a team tasked to deploy SAP onto windows for the first time, running on untested, un-approved Itanium IA-64bit systems. The challenges here were from a very high level as follows:
- There was no Windows operating system for IA-64bit systems
- There was no Windows SQL database system running on IA-64bits systems
- There were no device drivers especially for printing and more for IA-64bit systems running windows
- The HP IA-64bit servers were still under development at the time and this project lead to its final general acceptance/release (GA)
- SAP didn’t have a working kernel for IA-64bit systems running windows
As one of the certified system engineers on the project, I had to work with Microsoft to come up with a valid O/S (Windows 2003 server – IA-64-bit Enterprise edition) build that eventually went GA after the success of the project.
We had to work with an 80-year-old engineer out of Germany to eventually program the CMOS chips that made it into the eventual motherboards for the HP G5/G6 DL 785 servers that ran the new Windows O/S in HA cluster mode for SQL and SAP ECC R3 in true IA-64bit mode. We had to write code with Lanier and Ricoh to provide basic black/white print drivers for an IA-64bit windows system.
With all of this, we had to overcome language barriers, location barriers, technology inconsistencies and complications, and meet a very strict timeline. We had to then migrate over 700 system/guests into this new platform, then work on run support. We had to do this within a 1-year span and maintain it for 5 years.
What motivates you in the things you do?
I have always been a very curious person. Knowing how things came to be always intrigued me. This has led me to various amazing journeys over the years. I believe this desire was first cultivated in Dority. When we participated in the project “Providing portable drinkable water in contemporary Nigeria” something in me woke and my love for technology started. I haven’t looked back since then.
What do you remember most about your time as a student of Dority International Secondary School?
Believe it or not, I was the shortest person throughout my IELC/DISS journey, until SS3. I had to endure teasing (all fun and games, nothing bad, no regrets) about my height. To say that I felt like the king of the world when I started SS3 taller than 60% of the class would be an understatement. That defining moment stayed with me till today.
Have you been to DISS since you graduated? If yes, were you able to engage with the students?
Unfortunately, no, I haven’t been back. However, I have engaged with former classmates and school mates in any way I can. It has been an absolute pleasure to see how successful D.I.S.S have become on the world stage. I am so proud.
Where do you think you will be in the next five years?
Technology as we know it changes every 18 months due to Moore’s Law. I see myself managing and contributing to the innovations and technology disruptions that will shape the world in the next 5 years. Always at the forefront of advancements, always rising to the highest with every chance I get.
Which of your achievements are you most proud of?
Without a doubt, becoming a parent. Being able to pass on what I have learned to the next generation of Ifeakanwas.
Which issues or topics are you passionate about?
Information technology (obviously), food and utilizing technology to end poverty.
If you had the chance to mentor a D.I.S.S student today, what advice would you give him/her?
No one gets to any level of achievement without failing a few times. My advice would be to expect failure, and when it comes, fail epically. You will always learn the best when you learn what NOT to do in any situation.
Where do you see the alumni association in the next 5 years?
If we can continue to grow, and bring all these amazing minds together, there is nothing we cannot achieve. I see our association achieving feats that will stand the test of time.