The IT industry in Nepal is a relatively new yet a fast growing area. An expanse mostly dominated by the youths of the country, it can be clearly seen that it isn’t very big. Hence, becoming successful in this sector is not a given assurance. Instead, people may be more likely to opt out of it early.
In the midst of all adversities, we do see few (as compared to other sectors) professionals thriving well and achieving success and meeting their dream. Therefore, today we bring to you an exclusive interview with one such professional – Mr. Pratik Lal Shrestha, a Web Strategist at Catch Themes. We were fortunate to have him grace us with his humble presence and answer our questions.
Please tell us a little about yourself. Who exactly is Pratik Shrestha?
Well, I’d say Pratik Shrestha is your everyday average Nepali guy. I come from a middle-class Nepali family. I am a Web Strategist at Catch Themes. My work is my passion and can’t see myself doing anything else. Also, no rags to riches or anything like that. I’m just a regular person who enjoys his work and aspires to give of the best of his ability.
Would you like to tell us about your family?
Sure. I am a very family-oriented person, actually. We are 5 members, my grandmother, my mother, my wife – Sweta and my son – Prasoon who just turned 3; all of whom I’m very proud of. My wife works as a theme reviewer in the same company as I do. And I’m very fond of my son, he’s a real sweetheart to play with. I try my best to be a good father to him.
Please tell us about your early life and education.
That’s generic, I must say. As a child, I was very interested in Mathematics and Science. I liked to play with numbers. My interest in Computers started because I loved to play games on the computer. I actually remember asking my mom to buy me a computer just because I wanted to play games. Then, in secondary school, we were taught QBasic. I found it way too easy to work with. However, I didn’t take computers in my high school and went on to study science in 10+2. My major was Physics and Mathematics.
Why did you choose the IT Sector?
Choosing IT was not a pre-decided thing. After completing my 10+2, I had aimed to be a Computer Engineer. However, by the time I made the decision, all the seats were full in all colleges. I went to Amrit Science College to look at the options available and learned about a 4-year Computer Science degree. The course was a new one – B.Sc. Computer Science & Information Technology (CSIT). It seemed intriguing, and I just went on to enroll. So, I was in the first batch of CSIT students in Nepal. That was how I actually entered the IT world.
What do you think of the IT Sector in Nepal?
IT can have a lot of areas where it’s implemented. To be honest, I am not really aware of other areas as I fully work with WordPress. Being a Developer, I really don’t socialize very much. In WordPress, though, the scene is very good if you look at the products. Overall, I think IT is a very promising sector. Mostly, in other fields, one requires quite a lot of investment but in IT, all you really need is a computer and an internet connection. Additionally, the internet connection is quite good these days. Not like the dial-up connection of 56kbps we used when we were in school. These days, the ISPs are providing quality connections at an affordable price. So, this is an area where you get maximum returns and benefits with minimal investment.
What is it like to be a Web Strategist?
Okay. The definition would say that a Web Strategist is someone who is responsible for the long-term planning to create and develop a company’s online presence. It extends way beyond that, though. I work exclusively online. I normally only handle the technical stuff in my office. However, these days I also have extended towards a bit more at office management and HR, as well.
Basically, what I do is research the new developments in WordPress (in the programming level) and strategize how we can implement them in our products in a more innovative way.
The reason you chose WordPress?
Before WordPress, I used to work with CakePhp. WordPress then was like an alien territory to me. Later, a close family member and my mentor – Sakin Shrestha, introduced me to WordPress. He taught me everything from the basics of the work. His mentoring was as essence to my career as he taught me to focus on the quality of work rather than rushing into outputs. WordPress, as I found it, gave you freedom while increasing productivity and also gave me challenges to overcome.
So, what kind of challenges do you face at work?
The most difficult would be having to stay updated at all times. I cannot afford to miss anything new. But it’s a challenge I like to work with. I have to keep checking blogs every time. Even a small issue can create huge problems in our workplace. I find programming very interesting and I don’t really take it as a problem. I do what I love and actually enjoy my work.
Describe a typical day for you.
First, I wake up quite late laughs. My day starts with my son waking up with me. I spend some time with him. Then, I go on to feed the fish in my aquarium and spend some time observing them. I find that to be very peaceful. Usually there isn’t much time in the morning. My wife and I get ready, have our breakfasts and leave for work. At the office, first things first, I catch up with any changes that have taken place. I do a quick survey of the news from WordPress. These days, I also get notifications on my phone, but I usually save the links and look at it in detail at my work desk. I check the blogs and updates I received. I, then, resume my work. It involves programming for our themes, updates and developments and other works as such. Working is fun, I must say. After work, we go home and I play with my son. I don’t do a lot of other work at home. I watch the fishes and play games on my phone.
What do you describe as fun?
As I said, I really like programming. I love the feeling I get after solving a problem. Challenges actually make work more interesting. Working as a Web Strategist fuels that fun factor for me. Sometimes, when I get stuck in any place and do a lot of researching in my codes to solve it, the solution that comes finally makes me feel exhilarated. Apart from that, I am not very physically active these days. I used to play cricket in college but I play games on the phone to pass my time. Also, spending time with my son is very amusing. Most days, I like staying home with my family.
What suggestions would you give to the young IT enthusiasts?
In my short experience, it’s very difficult when you take IT as your career choice in the beginning when you’re freshly out of college. There is a vast difference in the academic and professional areas. The teachers teach you to work on a research basis, completely. But as soon as you step into the workplace, you are faced with the ‘how to get things done’ approach. So, the first few months might be like you’re walking on stones barefoot. It is really difficult, even I found me asking myself, “Why did I study IT?” But then, you need to keep working and persevere. You need to learn progressively and get better at it. My main advice would be to not give up because it seems difficult at first. Keep trying and you will surely succeed. IT is not easy to begin with but it progressively becomes easier the more you learn. So, you shouldn’t back down from it.
One last question. Please tell us who you are apart from a Web Strategist and an IT person.
Besides work, as I said before, I am a very simple guy. I like to think I’m a good son. I enjoy spending time with my family, fishes and the internet. I’m not very outgoing and have a tightly-knit circle. I have a lot of cousins who I’m very fond of and like to spend time with them. Previously, we’d meet every weekend and play with each other but being grown-ups now quite takes away that fun factor. People get busy with their lives. That’s something I really miss.
So, that was all about Pratik Shrestha. He’s an exceptionally intelligent programmer, a family guy, and a really nice persona. He is a fine example of a regular Nepali guy paving his path to success. Being an IT technician let alone a Web Strategist is no easy task. But, as Pratik Shrestha puts it, “Keep working hard, don’t give up and you will surely find success.”
You can find him on Facebook here. Hope all of you young IT enthusiasts find an example in him. Not every success story is overly decorated with problems and troubles. Every person is unique and able to succeed if they’re willing to keep trying.