Careers: Interviews
Bob Kraus: Recipient 2005 NPA International "Professional Excellence and Innovation Award - Corporate Small Business"

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with Bob Kraus, recipient of the “2005 NPA International Professional Excellence and Innovation Award – Corporate Small Business” given out at the world’s largest networking industry conference, Networld+Interop Las Vegas. The Award is sponsored by the Network Professional Association with cooperation and support including from Networld+Interop, Microsoft, Que/SAMS (Pearson Technology Group Publishing), Network Computing Magazine, Network World Magazine, Novell Canada, …

Bob served with distinction in the U.S. Navy as an Electronics Technician working on radar, Tacan, and Satellite navigation systems, and training students in tube and transistor theory. After leaving the service, Bob taught at private post-secondary colleges for ten years where he designed curricula and ultimately managed PC Repair and Network Specialist programs in five campuses. His distinguished service and work history led him to the Washington Inventory Service (WIS), where he contributes as a Network Services/PC Repair Supervisor. Bob’s certification achievements include Novell, Microsoft and CompTIA.

Discussion: 

Q: Bob: congratulations on your fine achievement as the recipient of one of the networking industry’s highest international awards, the 2005 NPA Professional Excellence and Innovation Award – Corporate Small Business. What are your thoughts and those of your associates on this career achievement?

A: I am really happy about it. I have to take my hat off to my boss, Steve Stevenson who nominated me. I am an active officer in the San Diego chapter of the NPA, and figure that has helped me get the approval of my peers. The NPA really does work for people who want to network with real people in this industry.

Q & A: Provide a background of WIS.

I have been at WIS for about 8 years now. I was hired as a group lead for the network services group in the international headquarters in San Diego. Since then have been promoted to supervisor, including taking over the PC repair facility.

Q: Describe the project that led to you being the recipient of this award.

The project consisted of upgrading the 800+ field inventory taking PCs to XP. This started with loading and testing with main focus on PC performance, recovery and hardware compatibility. Results included the retirement of some hardware components, the introduction of new components, memory upgrades, and the inclusion of a disaster recovery tool to perform in-field reloads of the operating system. Once the builds went “gold” we rolled the upgrade out to the field through a return visit to our repair facility. All in all it was a successful campaign.

Q: What were your biggest hurdles?

Hardware compatibility with home-grown programs. The more specialized the equipment, the more incompatibilities you run into. Our PCs come standard with modems, network adapters, USB ports, ESD protected serial and parallel ports, and PCMCIA card readers. We have specialized software that allows a computer novice to run our programs without much intervention other than plugging things in and pressing keys.

Q: What would you do differently?

I would have looked harder at replacing older PCs while they were in the shop to alleviate the issue of some of them not “traveling well” and ending up failing after shipment.

Q: What are five words of advice to your peers?

  1. Work with the big picture in mind. You will catch more and be more creative in the long run. It’s easy to over-focus on your tasks and miss a precious opportunity to improve your company’s or your position.
  1. Don’t ignore your body’s own language. If you hate your job, go find another. You’ll be doing everyone a big favor, including yourself.
  1. Avoid knowledge-hoarding. Many people believe that if they have the knowledge, they will secure themselves in their position by keeping it hidden from others. To a supervisor like me, that makes you a better candidate for replacement. I can’t afford one person to have sole knowledge of a technology or piece of equipment.
  1. Surround yourself with successful people. Here is a really good reason to be an active member of the NPA! If you do this, you will be able to help and get help from others. This to me, makes for a fun, winning environment.
  1. Take all your life experience into account when promoting yourself. You know stuff, you have experiences that are different from others. That is valuable.

Q: Any further advice you would give to IT Pros?

Stay in the loop. At your job, if your boss likes to treat you like a mushroom, squawk about it. It is your right to know. It’s your company! In the industry, keep your ear out, page through the trade rags and read something that catches your eye. Go to seminars, webinars and conferences. Join the NPA.

Q: What attracted you to serve in the Navy; detail your main responsibilities, and what lessons would you like to pass on from that time?

A: I joined the Navy to get education and launch a career. I joined up for six years so that I could get electronics training. I was a radar technician, who maintained the ship’s surface search radar, and also the Tacan and Satellite navigation equipment.

Q: What led you to teaching?

A: In the navy, I also had the opportunity to teach electronics right after I graduated my “A” school. This brought me into the computer field when I began to work as a civilian. I landed a job teaching electronics to students who were in a Computer Repair program. I then had the opportunity to learn the software side of the PC, and then on to networking.

Q: What are the top ten resources for IT Pros in your profession?

A: Google for research, Trade rags for industry news, vendors (engineers) for added expertise and over-the-shoulder training, my peers for training, familiarity, and help on snags.

Q: Bob, thank you for taking the time and sharing your accumulated knowledge and experiences with our audience.

A: Thanks. Thanks to the NPA, and you for your time.

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