One of the greatest aspects of the Umbraco community is its global reach and diversity. Here in the pages of Skrift, we make a conscious effort to extend awareness of the varied experiences and backgrounds that Umbracians can come from in an effort to make our world a smaller place.
As one tool to that end, we’re introducing Skrift Spotlight, a periodic feature where we interview a member of the community from somewhere near or far to learn who they are, how they came to be part of the Umbraco family, and what their life is like.
The subject of our first Skrift Spotlight is Fuji Kusaka, an Umbraco developer from the beautiful island of Mauritius.
Did we mention beautiful?
Located roughly 2,000 km (1,200 mi) east of the continent of Africa with a population of 1.25 million people, the Indian Ocean island nation of the Republic of Mauritius is an ethnically and religiously diverse country that is about as far away as you can get from the Skrift office in Bellingham, WA (disclaimer: we don’t actually have an office).
As such, we unfortunately couldn’t simply hop over for an interview, and instead talked with Fuji via email, catching up with him in between long-distance marathon bike races, a busy work schedule, and just prior to the birth of his first child (Congrats, Fuji!)
Q: Who is Fuji, for those that don’t know you?
My name is Fuji Kusaka. I currently work for a hospitality management company called LUX* Resorts & Hotels based in Mauritius as Online Development Manager.
Just for the record, Mauritius is an Island in the Indian Ocean. Sometimes it's hot and humid out here, but it does rain a lot!
Unfortunately my office is not based in a resort, but we enjoy spending our weekends at the resorts at least once a month. Last year we did set up Umbraco certification in one of our resorts but unfortunately not a lot of people close to our island like South Africa, UAE, or even Mauritius joined us.
For quite some time Umbracians raise the point that I should organize an Umbraco meetup here, which of course I am willing to do. Why not in one of our resorts?
Q: How did you start working in Umbraco?
Back in 2010 with all the evolution and big demand of clients we were looking for a stable CMS. We then discovered Umbraco and ever since changed our life! At first we did not really know how to use it properly until the day we decided it was worth attending Codegarden. I first attended Codegarden in 2011, not knowing at all what we would expect from this CMS.
It took us some time to make the leap from V4.7 to V.7 but we are finally there and loving it. You might asked yourself what took us so long , well back in 2012 we decided to take both Level 1 & Level 2 V5 certification but no need to tell what came out of v5.
When I joined LUX* in Jan 2014 my main goal was to set up all the servers and get the team certified. We currently have 3 Websites under V7 at the moment and the others on v4.11. Our day to day job is to maintain the websites, add new functionalities and where possible make sure to provide a good service to all the other Marketing team or Resorts.
What are your duties at LUX*?
We have all our websites running under Umbraco and my main duty is make sure everything is working properly and to add new functionalities to the websites. Also as day to day work make sure to create new content, sub websites, landing pages.
What kind of challenges do you face using Umbraco as the CMS for resort websites?
Right now we are moving each of them under version 7 so basically moving from 4.11 to v7.3.
Have you authored any Umbraco packages?
Yes at the beginning I did create a small package to help some just like to to solve 404 page and another one for image cropping.
What is the Umbraco community like in Mauritius?
Down here I only know one certified web agency. Unfortunately Umbraco is not well known here; most of the web agencies uses Drupal or Wordpress. We tried with the help of Peter Gregory to organise a V7 Certification at our resorts last year after CG14, but unfortunately no one joined in and we finally ended up doing the certification at our head office.
What is your history as a developer before becoming an Umbraco developer?
I first started as a web designer, but there was always this thirst to know more and be able to do something different. By that time the web agency I was working for was looking for a better and more flexible CMS solution. I then came across Umbraco and started playing around with no real understanding of what I was doing. Finally I created an account and looked for all the materials possible there.
From that day i started getting to know Umbraco more but was struggling a lot with XSLT. I eventually purchased some books and started learning everything I could to get a good understanding of what I was working on. I moved from a web designer to web designer/front end Integrator and whenever needed I helped the junior designers. In time I got in touch with Peter Gregory and was willing to get Certified which we did in both Level 1 & 2.
How long have you lived on Mauritius?
I was actually born in Mauritius. Both of my parents are not born in Mauritius though, as my dad is from Japan and my mum is from a nearby island named Rodrigues Island.
You've attended CodeGarden several times. Do you feel it's a valuable experience for you to connect to the international Umbraco community?
I was quite shocked when we first landed in Denmark to be honest! The culture is so different and even the meet up at CG was something very unique. Different in a very pleasant way, where sharing of ideas with different people from different parts of the world was possible, where no one cares about who will do the job better. This community is the best ever and everyone there got together to share knowledge and contribute to future and growth of the CMS.
What is your favorite CodeGarden experience?
My favourite CG was back in 2011 which was actually my first one. We decided to make this fifteen hour flight to get to know more about the CMS. I had to run at Charles de Gaulle international airport to get to my gate since my flight in Mauritius was delayed and on the way back to Mauritius I actually missed my flight!
What do you do for recreation?
I've always been involved in sports cycling, trail runs, football and rugby. Nowadays I only trail run and cycling MTB racers during weekends. It is hard to get the right balance between work, social life and sports. I usually run twice a week, and cycle three times a week right after work. Most of the time I am covered by mud during those activities.
When I am in Denmark, I enjoy going for morning runs for thirty minutes. This year Bob [Baty-Barr] and some other Umbraco folks met up for morning runs. Be prepared for CG16, we will surely be inviting others from the community to join us. Just for the record I completed a four hour endurance race in a forest today.