The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here
I started out as a System Programmer with Vigorsoft before moving into Enterprise Development with HP India. At present, I am doing a lot of work in the mobile space with TechAhead.
During the past 13 years in the IT industry, I have always focused on building a strong foundation in the basics of technology, while keeping an eye on trends and looking for ways to adapt technology to meet the current demand. I was never married to any particular domain, language or platform, instead preferring to remain an IT solution provider. I believe this as my strength.
While looking for new possibilities, I have always placed a lot of importance on understanding the requirement from the customer's perspective. After all, we are in the service industry where it is essential to look at how our service fares with respect to usability and utility to the end user.
My mantra of focusing on the basics has helped me scale up both horizontally and vertically - I believe that these two are related. For instance, if I provide a solution to a client for the iPhone, then he will not only ask for a new advance feature to be added in the next version (vertical growth) but might also approach us for creating similar solution for the web (horizontal growth).
In other words, strong basics and customer focus have helped me scale up the ladder from a System Programmer to a CTO in a span of 13 years.
Decisions That Mattered
There are several important decisions that have affected my career. This includes coming into the IT services industry at the right time and staying at a company like HP India for 5 years instead of switching jobs often. This helped me gain invaluable experience in several domains such as Logistics, Education, Warehousing, and technologies such as Visual Basic, SQL Server, ASP, Mainframe and report generators for both desktop and web development.
The next important decision was taking the leap into entrepreneurship by identifying a promising team and joining forces with them.
The Turning Points
It was my dream to be a system programmer and a part of some OS development team or device driver development team. However, campus placement pushed me into the enterprise software and automation area, where I explored my capabilities, contributed to the organization and scaled up my skills.
Subsequently, due to a mishap, I was out from the industry for almost 2 years. However, I utilized that time by working on my weaknesses, and building my strengths. This was a turning point for me as I started to believe in myself once again, and it gave me the confidence to set forth on an entrepreneurial journey.
Work and Role: Then and Now
Coming from a programming background, reporting was something that I disliked, since I believed that it restricted my creative ability by stipulating time and cost within which I had to complete a task. However, in my new role, since I'm at the top of the hierarchy, I have to prepare and read a lot of reports daily, and I have learned to appreciate the importance of reports in helping projects stay within budget and delivery schedules, especially in a highly competitive market.
Two Years Down the Line
I have lot of plans. This includes changing role to become an educationist in the technology sphere, where I can help to channelize fresh energy and ideas towards successful implementation. The focus is going to be on doing something that gives me satisfaction, while at the same time helping to contribute to society.
What I Learnt Along the Way
Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and be clear about your goals. It is very important to understand that you can't be the master of everything and focus on the areas that interest you.
Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
When I started out, IT services was a profession. Today, it is more a business with many entrepreneurs trying to capitalize on the rapid growth in the sector. The younger generation is also opting for IT as it provides better job opportunities. However, not all of them come into the industry because they have a passion for IT, but rather because they are attracted by the big pay packages. So, while the number of professionals in the field has increased, there has been a decline in the overall quality of skills.
Trends to Watch Out For
In the future, handheld devices are going to be a part of every individual's life and every business process. Due to this, Cloud will play the major role, with both hardware and software being shared. For technocrats, such as me, this is the time for coming up with solutions that integrate both hardware and software requirements and planning what to serve to the customers.
My Advice If You are Starting Out
Domain is a large space with multiple platforms and technologies. Instead of trying to cater all platforms, I would advise become an expert in one technology. Another important ingredient for success is to be fast in execution as the industry is highly competitive in terms of cost.
Must Focus Areas For the Future
The Mobile domain has various limitations such as small processing power, less real-estate for application layout, limited power, limited bandwidth, multiple platforms and a lack of standardization. Therefore, an optimized solution catering to all these limitations will be the most sought after specialization in the future. Cross platform development will also have a key role to play in this scenario.
Do We Need Certifications?
I have not received any certifications. However, I prepared for MCPs and PMP. I found that the satisfaction and learning that I derived from the process of preparation was enough, and I didn't go ahead with the certification after that. The good thing about most certifications is that they force you to go into the Implementation aspect of the theory that you have read. Each domain, both functional and technical, has so many certifications from their originators. My advice to the readers would be to go in for any certification, which you would love to put into practice.
Books/ Websites I Recommend
In terms of technology, books on C, Java and database will help in gaining a better understanding of the mobile development space. Rather than recommending a specific book, I would advise that when reading about a particular technology, try to concentrate on works from the originator.
The internet is also a great source for content, once you enter the industry and start developing solutions. However, remember that in addition to a thorough study of the domain, competition analysis is also extremely important.
Last But Not Least
The only additional advice I can give a person starting out in this industry is that while choosing a career, opt for a field that you are passionate about rather than being driven by social or materialistic factors.