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
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
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
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,”
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.