Director of Engineering - New Technologies
The Journey: Early days to How I got here
I am a Technology Evangelist by Heart. I have been promoting Technology and envisioning the future right from the first memories I have. My Journey in mobile technologies came in 2006 when I was intrigued by the possibilities of so many web services coming up. The idea of Mashups really excited me back then. The idea of Android an Open Source platform really hit me. My first Android app was God Speed - Turn by Turn Navigator in year 2007 (see the presentation for screen shots "http://www.slideshare.net/rohitsghatol/advanced-android-godspeed") which was all about building a modern day Navigator on the old G1 phone.
As an Evangelist, I started Pune GTUG (Google Technology User Group) and have been delivering speeches about Android and other Google Technologies on various platform. For a while I worked at Google as a Open Social Evangelist, which really gave me a great insight into what an Evangelist really does. I also conducted a lab in Google IO 2008, which was really very very helpful for me.
Then one day my Company "Synerzip" got a call about an Android prospect from QuickOffice (now Google) about our capabilities on building Power Point like tool on Android. I quickly created a prototype named "And Author" (http://code.google.com/p/andauthor/) and showcased it. We nailed the prospect. From a 2 people team we grew to 10, then to 40 and then to a 120 people team. Finally this team sold to Google the new Java based Document Processing Engine for Google Docs Backend, then the Chrome platform for entire suite of HTML5 based Powerpoint, Word and Excel. I was one of the key architects on these projects. QuickOffice was then acquired by Google. This way Synerzip now works with Google and I moved in Synerzip to become the Director of Engineering.
During this period I also wrote a book named "Beginning PhoneGap" for Apress. Writing a book actually helps you market your profile as an expert.
For a short while in 2010, I also had my own Android Product development shop by the name XSoftware Labs, a little experiment to understand our entrepreneur capabilities. We ran it for almost 1.5 years, most of the time profitable and greatly enjoyed it. This experience also helped me a lot.
To add to this, since 2006 I have been giving talks on Technical platform on various technologies, which helped me enhance my ability to envision future of a technology and how will the ecosystem form around it.
Decisions That Mattered
I made three most important Career Decisions:
1. Delivering speeches on various Technical platform (around 20-30 talks). This helped people know who I am and what I love doing. A Secret - "Success does not come, because you know the right kind of skills, or you know the right kind of people. It comes more because the right kind of people know you". It is your alertness to grab an opportunity passing by.
2. Took the leap to start my own shop XSoftwarelabs while I was employed. It was tough to manage a full time critical job and work on our own shop. This gave a lot of confidence and insight "The reason I am so confident, because I know everyone is as confused as me". When technologies are known, all experiments seems to be worth while, the ones which survive become the trend and rest are forgotten.
3. Leading People by heart at Synerzip. Yes, this sounds cheesy, but talking to every one on the floor, knowing what they are doing and more importantly how they are feeling is the key to receive everyone's blessing and energies to become what you want. All the people in Synerzip whom I connected with helped me become "Director of Engineering - New Practices". To add to this I created 2 Technical Groups in Pune, one is called TechNext with more than 1000 members and another I help called Pune GDG (Google Developer Group. Technext has been meeting consistently once a month since nearly last 2 years.
The Turning Points
This was when I first decided to talk on a Technical platform in 2006. Giving Technical talks was meant for people in their late 30s, I was very young compared to them. Also the conscious choice to lead myself and others in the world of unknown or new technologies really helped me.
Now I am so used to the new or unknown world and this still greatly benefits me.
Profession: Then and Now
While I started, I used to ask a lot of questions, now I answer many questions. And sometimes these answers are plain humor, because my dear friend, some questions only the future will answer.
Work and Role: Then and Now
I am a Director of Engineering which means I now have my own Organization in area called "SMAC - Social Mobile Analytics (Big Data) and Cloud". Apart from focusing on just Technology, People Motivation and Delivery, now I focus on growing Business. Now I am accountable for the profitability of my own Organization and given independent direction first in my Organization and then setting a path way for the company to follow.
The nature of what I do is still the same, explore the unknown, but now I have to do this with accountability that 200 more people will follow.
Two Years Down the Line
I am only 32 years and I am the Director of Engineering at Synerzip. This is what I love doing, and couple of years from now, I see myself becoming better in my role. Earlier I was unofficially doing presales activities from Pune, now the objective is to setup new Offices in Houston, TX and SanJose, CA in US. The idea is to become a catalyst in Synerzip's growth and lead it to acquire new right accounts.
The three most important lessons I have learned in my professional life are:
1. The only person to motivate me is myself. This is irrespective of any circumstances.
2. Embrace the unknown, set objectives to sail the unexplored. If you don't carry enough experience then carry enough courage to stand apart.
3. Connecting with People inside the Company and enhancing how they feel or outside the Company, helping them understand Technology making it very simple. You need to be illogical and Generous with People and Logical with Computers. Be more People Oriented.
Trends to Watch Out For
I am constantly watching the area of Aggregation of Services. A decade ago, we didn't have many services, a decade later we have too many. We are at the pinnacle of what is the key for these Services to aggregate and give us a meaningful connivence. Gone are the days when you can create a radical new service (unless its truly exceptional) and succeed. Now our own SmartPhone apps Spam us too much.
I am looking at an area where more AI is used to help us. A Good example of this is "Google Now", which is just a beginning of Programs using context to make more sense, then being mind less robots.
My Advice If You are Starting Out
Get a Smart Phone and use it heavily. Get familiar with pros and cons of it. Get loads of free and many of paid apps, devour the complete experience of the end user. Then decide if you are passionate about this arena, if you are you begin, which path you take is not important.
Areas of Specialization
The two most important areas which will shape the future:
1. Mobile Applications working like true Assistants, using the Context actually helping you out.
2. Mobile Applications controlling real world. e.g A.R. Free Flight or interfacing with your Car or Home will be the key. So far Automation from PC has not been successful due to the mindless program, now this is all set to change.
Do We Need Certifications?
The only certifications which actually helped me is Agile Scrum Master Certification. Actually the training helped me more. To me a Scrum Master is a certified person with good value system, who is more people oriented.
Rest to me Certification doesn’t matter to a free spirited person like me.
Books/ Websites I Recommend
Anything and everything helps, its a matter of personal preference. I like to read technology news apps like FlipBoard (just because its convient), I like to read on Google News. I love the "Daily App Show" to see what kind of new apps come.
I love sites which tell me what local technology events are happening around e.g IndicThreads annual events, Silicon India conferences, Meet-ups including mine TechNext and Pune GDG.
Last But Not the Least
Technology trends change every decade. Now is the time for Mobile. An immense curiosity is required when working in this space (or any new space). This curiosity needs to be backed up with courage to explore and make mistakes.
Please please please be vocal about your thoughts, vision, acts and mistakes. These are your personal belongings which you ought to share. Be more visible on social media sites, blogs, don't miss an opportunity to stand up and talk. Silicon India is a wonderful and easily approachable platform to talk on. And please think less and do more. Put up an App (any app) in 48 hours and publish them. See the results for real. Too much Analysis will only lead to Paralysis. All successful people are "more act and feel oriented" than "thought oriented". Eventually if you get in the habit of "Act" then alone you can succeed in today's dynamic ever changing world.