Engineer / Evangelist / Public Speaker
The Journey: Early days to How I Got Here
I started my professional life as a Technology Consultant to SMEs and startups in Kolkata. I got the opportunity to work for Torry Harris in 2006 for the Software Engineering services. I took the opportunity considering the merits of understanding the technology business from an IT services angle. This was a fruitful decision for me, as I discovered the challenges of consulting business and helped wide variety of organizations across the globe in this role. My work was predominantly software design, engineering and technology consultancy. In late 2009, I was introduced to the fledgling R & D team at Torry Harris and was asked to bootstrap the research efforts in Cloud Computing space. I was an early member of certain key engineering efforts in this space at Torry Harris. Later in early 2011, I helped bootstrapping the Mobile Computing business at Torry Harris and setting up the engineering teams for Mobile Application development. Currently, I work across the Cloud and Mobility team accelerating the engineering efforts and building world class team at Torry Harris.
The Turning Points
When I started my career as a Freelance technology consultant, there were varied challenges of finding the right customer and pitching to work for them. The change from this mode of work to be working for an IT services was a learning experience for me.
I believe a significant shift was set in when I was presented to lead new initiatives - Cloud and Mobility, for which there were no existing competency. This required greater sense of accountability and leadership that is radically different from engineering roles I had previously been into. I believe this was one of the key inflection points in my career.
I was also fortunate to be able to work with technology communities that allowed interaction with some of the smartest people I have known. This interaction helped me to focus on key technology areas and build strong professional relationships. My association with these communities is a significant turning point in my career.
Work and Role: Then and Now
Currently, I am in charge of the activities in Cloud and Mobility team. In this role, I am free to wear many hats - developer, tester, product manager etc. Moreover, the complex tasks of building a world class team is a great motivator. This is radically different from my pure engineering role. At any given time, I would have to work across the engineering team to deliver product milestones, hire extraordinary people, mentor technical teams, and brainstorm new solutions for customers. My previous job of pure play engineering was rewarding but one-dimensional. The challenges of my current role out-weigh the ones of my previous role, in a sense that my success now depends on the success of my team and the customer. I have to make sure that we sustain the best engineers, testers and designers by motivating them with interesting work challenges and architect the vision of the solution that they can work on.
The challenges of the profession have increased significantly, thanks to
the revamp of the Indian IT landscape. Indian IT is now no longer
expected to be a cheap offshore partner to MNCs. It is now a global hub
for innovation and new business services. Numerous product companies and
a healthy startup eco-system are driving new expectations from
professionals. Globally, the trend is similar. Professionals are
required to bring strong technology skills with fluent business acumen.
They are expected to be more entrepreneurial in their outlook and
go-getter in their ambitions. Technology education has also been tuned
to create such professionals.
Two Years Down the Line
I am in the middle of some really exciting developments currently in motion from work front. This means new products, interesting technology solutions and stronger customer relationship.
I see myself leading the efforts in building path changing products and solutions that have significant impact on the users. Moreover, I enjoy education and mentoring, and hence would like to see myself creating new avenues for bringing technical knowledge to a wider audience.
In the field of Information Technology, knowledge is the key. It is an essential skill to keep up with the information in the field. I truly believe that one has to be able to get into the groove of consuming information and derive inferences on an ongoing basis. This is a lifelong skill and one that will make sure such professionals will always be in demand. In short, "never stop learning" is the key lesson I have learnt over the years of my professional career.
Increasingly, we see convergence of ideas from multi-disciplinary fields that drive the future. It is essential for a professional to be aware of ideas not just limited to his or her domain, but also look out for interesting conversations over and around. Diffusion of ideas from different domains can spark creativity and work excellence. Hence, I think this is an essential lesson that I have learnt over the years.
I have also learnt the need to be humble with the successes and failures that one encounters in his or her career. Not every idea would work, and not every project will be delivered on time. It is essential to keep the spirit up and keep moving.
Books/ Websites I Recommend
Budding mobile professionals must invest in subscribing to top blogs and technology news feeds pertaining to Mobile technology. A book can't be the single source of information for the professionals; hence I refrain from suggesting some.
I like "The Busy Coder's Guide to Android Development" which is a great read for Android beginners. iOS Developers would love "IOS PROGRAMMING: THE BIG NERD RANCH GUIDE", which is perfect beginner's guide to development of applications on iOS platform.
Trends to Watch Out For
Mobile devices are becoming powerful, as companies rush to pump in more processor clock and memory. Operating systems are becoming smarter and allows for more engaging experiences to be built on them. I see multi-core programming coming down to mobile devices to power resource hungry applications. This is an important technology trend.
Newer interfaces between mobile and other electronic systems like TVs, Household appliances, security systems mean that mobile applications experience spans beyond the device. We see this happening already, and I am very excited by this trend.
Consumers using Mobile wallet for payment and end user authorization has started to proliferate the lives of users. And I see this taking a serious shape in coming months.
With all this happening, making sure the privacy of a user is assured is challenging, and requires us to be more competent in how and what we do with the information.
My Advice If You are Starting Out
My advice for someone to start in my domain is to spend as much time as possible in securing the fundamentals. We see nowadays individuals raring to go from one buzzword to other with little insight in how the domain works. This creates hollow professionals who do not understand the overall picture of how a solution works. I am afraid of this, and advice people to go as deep as possible in technology. It is essential for a professional to be passionate about technology, but not to use it for the sake of it. Businesses do not always need the buzzword technologies to solve the problem, and hence technology for the sake of it is a dampener. This maturity and balance is essential for a starter in this domain.
The delicate balance of being aware of all, and knowing which one works best for the problem in hand is a skill a starter must acquire.
Areas of Specialization
Mobile space is suffering from fragmentation. There are mature Operating platforms attracting developers of all kinds to build the next big idea over them.
One of the core requirements for individuals is to specialize in the art of thinking about software on mobile. Mobile app development is inherently different from the traditional domains.
Developing applications for mobile includes understanding of the features that fit the device. One cannot cram in all the features in a mobile application due to device limitations and screen size. So, mobile software thinking is essential.
User Experience is one such an essential ingredient to this thinking. This is not just the forte for Designers, but developers also need to master the art of creating experiences for the mobile users that stand out from the rest of others.
This means professionals need to have expertise in knowing about patterns and anti-patterns for engaging mobile apps.
One of the important skills that would be required in the Mobile space is to be able to build intelligent applications. There are varied input systems that a mobile device provides to the user like camera, GPS, accelerometer, voice, touch etc. This brings in wealth of information that a mobile application can exploit to provide intelligent experiences to the user. For example, a to do list application that remembers the location of work, home and friends can provide reminders based on where a task needs to be completed. All this can be engineered inside mobile applications and this requires professionals to have expertise to exploit the information collected.
Do We Need Certifications?
Certifications can help jumpstart a professional in a domain, but cannot replace experience. I believe certifications are good if they are merely used as a key to go deep in the subject. Product specific certifications are good for professionals if they are interested to know the nitty-gritty of the system. However, I advise companies not to base their hiring only on the certifications. It is important to have passion and interest in the field, and certifications cannot replace them.
I did have certifications in my professional life, but used them merely to jumpstart my work in a particular domain.
In Mobile computing space, I still do not see any mature certification programme that could be helpful. One important guide for starters and professionals in this field is to be a part of User Groups in mobile space. The mobile user groups have been a strong place for connections and new ideas in this space.
Decisions That Mattered
I believe keeping up with the upcoming technology trends in the market was definitely number one in my list of key career decisions. Back, when I started my professional career, I got to work on projects that gave me a broader sense of IT development including engineering, testing, support, R & D etc. I got to work across diverse teams, variety of roles and different technology stacks. However, the key was to identify the tipping points of technology and their adoption in real businesses. I believe as a technologist, it is essential to have a solid grounding in business operations as well. This creates a holistic balance and allows one to make better decision for the customer.
One other thing which I believe is essential to one's career, and to which I sincerely devoted my time, was to be a part of the larger community in the technology space. There is no greater space than a community of smart people to learn new things and keep a strong edge in this field. Having great technologists and smart people around oneself is definitely a motivator.
Last but not the Least
Budding professionals must face the fact that the field of technology is ever growing. There is no silent period in this field, and hence its ultra important for them to keep learning. There is no excuse for not putting this learning to practice. Easy access to cloud services and mobile app development platform allows any developer to be able to build and publish apps in no time.