The function and form of cars has always been a passion of Nish Gunasekera’s, but going from Zero to 100 takes patience, dedication and persistence.
@nish_g shares his dib® car journey story.
Nish Gunesekara: success involves many good people.
Bill: Where does the story start?
Nish: I was born right there in Colombo, so I was one year old, came to Toronto and my dad worked two jobs just to be able to make ends meet. My mom worked retail and yes, I spent a lot of time in Winnipeg. I did elementary, junior high, and then my dad got transferred back to Toronto for high school. So, you know, I did my high school here and then in my grade, 12 year, unfortunately my dad passed away. So our family was kind of put into a kind of an odd sort of situation where I decided to move back to Winnipeg and go to university there. So I was there for university, ended up getting my first job there, working at a real estate firm, just doing like general I.T. work. I guess at that time there was just a lot of students looking for jobs. Yeah. So there was a lot of competition for these jobs. Like, you know, I just had no luck. This company called Shindigo, they were a real estate company. They were looking for summer students just to do, like, data entry. And at the end of our two month term, the guy who was the network admin, so doing the i.t. stuff, he said, “Hey, I could use a little extra help. Do you want to keep working here?” And so I worked at, I worked there for about a year, two years, graduated from university, and they offered me a full time job. So I accepted the full time job was super lucky because most people don’t get a full time job out of a university like that. So I was super fortunate to be the right place right time kind of thing and ended up working there for 12 years. I just felt like for me to take the next step in my career, I needed to get some certifications.
Bill: Get something underneath you.
Nish: Yeah. So, you know, I talked to a few people and they said, yeah, take these courses. And so yeah. So I was going twice a week, you know, 3 hours each day so you know, work till five, drive to school 6 to 9 and then, you know, head off almost to go back to that, I do the same thing.
Bill: And that went on for two years?
Nish: Two years, yeah. So it was a two year program.
Bill: And you ended up with what degree of certification at the end of that?
Nish: So it was a Cisco certified networking professional. I was going purely on the advice of other people in the industry. It was actually the I.T manager at Standard Aero. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Standard Aero, but they’re basically an aerospace engineering firm. So the i.t manager there said, you know, have a look at these courses. I think this is where you want to go. And that was actually really like kind of a turning point in my career was I was taking those courses. So I worked at MTS, for about six years, you know, doing that kind of work and gained my experience and I worked with some really, really good people there, Gord Whitechurch who I still keep in contact with. He was one of my mentors there and I don’t if he’ll ever watch this. But Gord, you know, ..
Bill: Shout out to Gord, yah.
Nish: He was amazing mentor. He really helped me get the ropes and understand what it’s like to interact with the customers as well. So, you know, did six years of that, I really kind of like established myself in that in that role and that’s sort of when I decided, you know what, I need to like take more of a step, like kind of like get that certification that people just don’t have like something that’s really rare, really special and an opportunity kinda just landed on my lap. Bell was looking for people to take something called a CCIE, so it’s the Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert. So it’s basically the highest possible level you can get in the Cisco Education Academy. It took me two years of studying and labs..
Bill: so nothing comes easy is the message behind that.
Nish: That’s an 8 hour exam. Now 8 hours is tough because you had to concentrate 100% for the 8 hours and you wouldn’t realize how difficult that is until you actually have to do it like it takes practice. And I think that’s why people don’t pass the first time is because it’s so difficult to keep that level of concentration for 8 hours. So they mark the tests that day, right? And I was walking down the tunnel, you know, between the terminal and the plane, and I looked at it and I’m walking. I look at it and it said passed.
Bill: There’s something else in your life. At what age did you also find the passion for cars?
Nish: Well, I mean, that goes back quite a few years. So I had a friend, a Sri Lankan friend, and he was six or seven years older than me. His name is Paul and he actually lives in Toronto. I always visit him when I come come down here. And he was huge. Him and his brother were huge into cars. From a really early age it kind of like ingrained on me you know that love of cars and again not even just sports cars. I said sports cars, but really any type of car. So my friend had a rabbit G.T.I., and I’ll never forget like black with a red pinstripe and stuff like that. I think the whole concept of having like a cool car stemmed from that car. So, I mean, I guess it comes down to that Dreaming concept. Like I grew up dreaming of like these cars and being able to own one and you’ll be able to drive one. That dream was my driving force. Like, I believed in my dream that I could actually one day drive those cars. Even though my family we had a Nissan Sentra or Mazda or whatever, didn’t matter, which I felt that I had, that I had that dream and I had the drive to achieve, achieve that dream. I believe that I could do it.
Bill: Sorry to interrupt your flow. You’re your friend, Paul was a catalyst in many ways for you, whether it was conscious or subconscious. You had someone to look to to say, ..
Nish: He planted the seed?
Bill: It’s possible!
Nish: He planted the seed for sure. When I could make my concept of what I wanted to get and what I felt was like a cool car changed. So like it. It started off like my first car I mentioned to you, it was in 1993 Honda Civic S.I.
Nish: And that is specifically what I wanted. I wanted an S.I. right. But your dreams kind of evolve, right? Like you progress. And for me, as my career was progressing, so was my car aspiration.
Bill: That’s what’s special about your story to me, as a as part of the dib® community. No one gets there alone.
Bill: Inspiration comes from a lot of different places, right?
Nish: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so the next big sort of leap was after I got my CCIE in 2016, I bought an Audi R8.
Bill: You achieve the certification and you turn to the next to the next best thing in your life, which is vehicles. You said, hey, I’m going after this.
Nish: And Bill you have to remember like I’m talking about years, right? Like,
Bill: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Nish: It was 2006 when I bought the Honda.
Bill: So it was about a decade.
Nish: Exactly. And I also raced my cars too. So you know, like I go to the track on a regular basis. Every year I would go. I have my race license for a while there and I’ve always had a manual car. Up until the G.T.I. It was always ingrained in me that if you want a true driver’s car it has to be manual. And so I decided, you know what I want to go back to that feeling, I want to get that feeling back. And I I traded that G.T.R in for the R8. I mean, I was doing I was doing well at the time. And so but it’s one of those things like it’s a whole dreaming thing, right? You start to dream bigger and like, you want that progression. Yeah. And I felt like there were still more, still more that I could still be doing. I decided, you know, now’s the time to, to maybe look at what do I really want to drive? And in terms of German cars like. There’s there’s there’s levels even within German cars you know. BMW and Mercedes, all that kind of stuff. There is a bit of a pinnacle there, you know, that I’ve always had my eye on. And, you know, growing up I had a poster of a Porsche 911 turbo on my wall, and, but I felt like now’s the time to do it. And so I drove down to Toronto and met with my friend Paul, the guy who inspired me to get to this point. And we headed out to Pfaff Porsche to test drive a 2015 Cayman G.T.S. My friend Paul actually took a video of us doing a test drive, just giggling at the sound that this classic gives me. And I went back and I signed the papers right then and there. And so that’s a kind of really sold me on, on the Porsche brand for sure. I would say the like what you’re able to do, is a byproduct of believing in yourself to be able to do more. Like, I didn’t wake up and say, well, I’m going to go for my C.C.I.E because I want to buy an R8. For me, I was kind of looking at every day as a new opportunity.
Bill: Tell us a little bit about what you’re driving today.
Nish: So again, its sort of aligned with the way my career was going at the time. I got an opportunity to look at a different Porsche and Porsche has this GT division. So it’s a special motorsports only division that. Basically they take a Porsche and they develop it to 11. They turn up the dial a couple of a couple of notches. And so I had an opportunity to look at a brand new 718 Spyder, which is basically a convertible version of the Gt4.
Bill: Without inspiration, without our dreams. Where do we where do we go? Where is the next step? And you’ve resonated that here. Most people are crippled by change. What if I if I do that, what if and something important about your experience here is that the what if isn’t isn’t. It’s not that it’s not an option. The what if is included in the equation. Okay. What if when I get there, I’ll figure that part out. So inspiration leads you to leap. And so Gord comes in to your life and instead of protecting his knowledge and keeping it to himself for his own, let’s say, selfish reasons, he decides to impart everything that is him on to you and that takes you to the next level or inspires you to the next level. Paul Is that same individual in the car space who predates Gord but really plays the same role. These unique and special people come into your lives and you recognize their their their importance to you.
Nish: You know, like I’m fortunate that positive things are happening and it’s about sharing that positivity with other with other people. You know, like, I don’t I don’t believe in, like, if good things are happening to you, why would you keep that to yourself? Like, why not help others try to achieve the same, and feel the same way.
Bill: Yeah. And make life a great experience.
Nish: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that’s somebody inspired me. I would love to inspire others.
Bill: Let’s take your take the impact that your journey has had on you, impart it on someone else, and make the world a better place day by day. And that’s what dib® is. Trust is what allowed this conversation to happen and thank you for that. Thank you for sharing your journey. Thank you for sharing your story. And you’re you’re a dib® model citizen and I’m just grateful that you’re that you’re a part of a part of my, my friend group. And you always will be. Thanks Nish, thanks for being here today.
Nish: No, I appreciate you invited me to do this interview. It’s a lot of fun, you know, taking it to trip down memory lane and taking all this stuff. And so. Yeah, thank you very much for having me.
Bill: Thanks, Nish. Take care.