The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here
I started my career as a Java Developer in the year 1999 and after working for a couple of years, got an opportunity to run the show at an IT product development company focusing on the IT certifications and Skill Assessment systems (Whizlabs Software). The founders of the company, who were Alumni of IIT Delhi, decided to move on with their careers and wanted to exit from the venture. My job was to sustain the business for few quarters, until they found a strategic investor.
As things turned out, the revenue doubled within the first quarter, and the founders changed their mind about exiting, and together we all aligned ourselves towards taking the company forward and creating a Global Product Development company. During the course of work, I had an opportunity to serve customers such as Infosys, Cisco and Accenture, among others. It made me realize that I had a passion for client servicing, and there was no looking back after that. When I decided to move on, the company was valued at just over 1M USD.
I then joined a leading IT services company in Noida(2006) and pursued my passion for Client Servicing and Delivery as Vice President, Software Delivery. I got the opportunity to manage multi-million dollar accounts and a team of over 250 highly enthusiastic technical guys. After 3 years in the role, I felt that I had hit a saturation point and decided to do something more challenging with my life by entering into the unknown territory of Entrepreneurship that too when the rest of the world was in the middle of a global financial crisis. Coming from a traditional Brahmin family, where a government job is considered the safe and best option, this was a big step for me to take, but with the support of my family and some friends, I decided to go ahead and started my venture TechAhead (www.techaheadcorp.com).
It has been two fulfilling years since.Decisions That Mattered
One of the most important career decisions that I made was moving from programming (when most of my friends were aspiring for fancy jobs in the US and Europe) to an Operations/Management role, as it helped me gain the necessary experience for following my goal of becoming an entrepreneur.
Besides this, resigning from a secure job with almost no savings in hand and arranging funds for the new company to survive during the initial few months of the business was a big risk, but also a leap forward towards achieving my goal.The Turning Points
Work and Role: Then and Now
- Taking the decision to move in to an Operations/Management role, which meant giving up aspirations of working in the US and Europe in highly paying programming jobs.
- Foraying into the unknown area of entrepreneurship, while leaving behind the security of a highly remunerative job.
Two Years Down the Line
- One of the things that I used to avoid doing previously was sales; as I was very shy when it comes to talking about money. However, at present, I am also doing sales as in my entrepreneurial role, I have realized its importance and the impact that it has on the overall revenues of the company.
- Besides this, as CEO, I also look into strategy and operations planning (Finance and HR), things that I didn’t have to deal with earlier.
A pioneer and leader of a well-known brand in the IT space, which is known for its ethical practices and transparency.What I Learnt Along the Way
Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
- Screening and choosing good customers
- Identifying passionate, aligned and enthusiastic team members
- Taking the step forward to pursue dreams without caving in to the pressure to conform from family and society
In the IT/ITES sector in the late 1990s, when I started my career, India was looked at as the destination for cost savings. However, the sector has evolved over the past two decades, and global clients are now looking at India for quality and innovation rather than mere cost savings.Trends to Watch Out For
With the widespread use of Mobile Devices (Phones and Tablets) and the availability of hi-speed internet on the go, I foresee a boom in the Mobile space. However, computing on cloud and enterprise application development will stay, and Mobile will be the viewing device. Mobile is the space to be in, and I think with our mobile development experience and capabilities, TechAhead is on the right path.My Advice If You are Starting Out
I think the best advice that I can give a person starting up is to focus on fundamentals. Domains and waves may come and go, but if you have a strong foundation in technology and are confident of your capabilities, nothing can stop you. I would also advise the need for adaptability as it is the key to survival when things change. Besides this, being clear about your objective is invaluable.Must Focus Areas For the Future
Do We Need Certifications?
- Mobile Payments: Mobile payment using NFC (Near Field Communication).
- Education: In just next 10 years, we envision every student to be connected through tablet even in the remotest rural area.
- Healthcare: Lots of things happening here from healthcare apps, use of apps to help in clinical trials, Pharma marketing etc. Mobile health space is getting exciting each passing day.
I took few certifications along the way, including Sun Certified Java Programmer, Certified Software Quality Analyst and Lead Auditor for ISO 9001: 2000. These have all helped me at various stages of my career.
However, I strongly feel that certifications should be not taken just to show it off on your resume or for the sake of it. We really need to choose those certifications that can be beneficial for career growth and are consistent with our overall objective.
Books/ Websites I Recommend
With my 12-14 hour work day, I don’t get to read as much as I would like to. Some books on my 'must read' list include, Steve Job's biography by Walter Isaacson, 'Getting things done: The art of stress free productivity' by David Allen, 'Clean code: A handbook of Agile software craftsmanship' by Robert Martin and 'Coders at work' by Peter Siebel. However, keep in mind that these books can only give ideas and inspiration. In the end, there is no substitute for good old fashioned hard work and experience. Last But Not Least
Often, people ask me whether setting up a company was easy, and if I have any regrets. My answer is that if you have a passion and are clear about your goals in life, then there will be no regrets as you will be willing to do whatever it takes to turn your dreams into reality. This has been my experience with TechAhead, and I am grateful to my family, friends and colleagues who have helped me in this endeavor.