Gangtok: New Zealand had been in the headlines for being the first country in the world to eliminate Coronavirus completely. Though there are no active cases in the country for the past few weeks, the effects of the virus certainly had its impact on the economy.
With unemployment peaking, the government moved swiftly and nimbly to alleviate the problems of those who lost their jobs. A new social welfare programme was formulated to provide direct cash benefits to those who lost their jobs due to COVID. IT teams were soon fast-tracked, and one of the teams was led by Manish Chhetri, a Sikkimese engineer.
Chhetri was hand-picked to lead an IT team, his team worked meticulously and swiftly over a month to deliver a nearly impeccable end-product in record time.
The 39-year-old was born and brought up in Namcheybong, Pakyong in East Sikkim. An alumnus of St Paul’s School, Darjeeling, he completed his schooling from Cathedral Bangalore, and engineering from Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology (SMIT), Majhitar in East Sikkim.
Chhetri is leading the technical team on the new phases of the “COVID IT fightback” and at the same team is helping set up the Auckland IT team for the Ministry in Auckland as a supporting Business Unit to the national office in Wellington.
The name of the project is COVID Income Relief Payment, and it has been going on quite well. The COVID pandemic was an extraordinary moment where so many people lost their job, it was informed.
“After this project ended, I was supposed to get back to the modernisation project that I was working on, but it was decided that they wanted me to lead the next team in Auckland for the phase 2 and 3 of the project,” said Chhetri.
“When I initially got into the project, it came as a shock for me because everything was new to me. I was apprehensive, but as I started working everything fell into place. We’ll see how the next two phases go,“ he added.
He moved to New Zealand in 2010. “The New Zealand government was very proactive at that point of time. I worked in Wellington, New Zealand for 14-15 months for one of the projects that was related to government benefits for people who have lost their jobs. I did not have a big role to play there, but I was introduced to that side of the world and how government policies are developed, first hand,” expressed Chhetri.
“They were opening a new office in Wellington and they wanted someone with experience to help them. I moved to New Zealand in January and underwent a three-week training. I was working on a modernisation project and then COVID happened. I had no idea what was happening and while I was working from home, I got a call from my IT manager asking me to lead a team. I had no clue about the project I was getting into as everything for me was new,“ he added.
Chhetri began his career in 2003, and since then he has worked in various sectors, including Netkraft (2003), Qwest telecom (2006), Curam Software (2007), among others.
In early 2012, he moved to the US to work for the state of North Carolina, in one of the most complex health insurance programs in the world. He led an IT team there to build the heart of the USD 14 billion project for Medicaid transformation.
The US healthcare is one of the most complicated insurance systems in the world, as the government policies change all the time. It was a challenging project. There were many teams working in the project, but the part that I was working on was the core of the project. The project was doing well but before the project went live, I had to leave the country and move back to New Zealand to work with my former manager, said Chhetri.
Chhetri plans on building a team in Auckland and working on it for the next few years. He wants to grow his team and build a successful team.