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Experiment for Experience
Sanjeev Jain
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Experiment for Experience

I wish I could imitate the unbelievable memory of Pawan Kumar the ex-chairman of vMoksha,” says Shankar Kodumudi, Technical Director–QA, AOL–Bangalore Development Center, excitedly. He points out, a good memory helps to get ahead in any profession rather then say “Hello! I met you earlier. What’s your name?”

Kodumudi started his career in 1986 at Wipro within development and considers his stint later with TCS where he joined in 1988 as the best–as he experienced a huge learning curve there. Kodumudi then moved to Network Associates and joined AOL in April 2004.

A learning experience for him rather than a career nadir was with the setting up of a start-up in Silicon Valley. The call he feels was right but the end result was not what he hoped for. The experience was glorious in the sense that working in a start-up rather than established behemoths helps one to wear many hats. “Hot-blooded young tech professionals keen on establishing a start-up should go for it given an opportunity. It’s a training in life,” he reflects.

Kodumudi however cautions that one should not take risks blindfolded without considering options and understanding the prevalent circumstances. He did a start-up with nine years experience, when he was a bachelor. Would he get into a start-up now that he has a family? “No” is the emphatic answer. “Liabilities like these are also to be considered before venturing for one is responsible for one’s near and dear ones too.”
Kodumudi made a positive decision to move from being a hard-nosed development guy to a passionate quality assurance professional on an impulse six years back. “One aspect that I learnt after this move was to correct myself for having dismissed a field earlier as easy without knowing the nitty-gritty’s of it. Moving into quality made me see development in a new light.”

Learn and Unlearn to Learn
If techies have to make a mark in their career, they should understand their customers needs better. They should ask the right questions about their requirements. Though this may look odd, it is required, as customers know their choice better, says Jitendhar G.S., Vice President- Central Engineering, Celstream Technologies.

“A customer can drink coffee at any coffee shop. He does not care how the coffee has been prepared, but what he wants is taste; he know his taste better,” says Jiten.
Jiten started his career with the Bharat Electronics Limited in 1987 in the R&D department working on broadcasting technology. After an eight-year stint he moved to Motorola to work on 3G telecom. The transition from a public sector giant to telecom giant wasn’t smooth. He faced cultural differences. This was a learning experience for him.
He jumped without being prepared for the top job. “One needs to show emotional maturity and intelligence apart from technological capabilities before switching jobs.” It required him to unlearn the expertise he had acquired at BEL. It took him one year of dedication and perseverance to learn new domains and “world class practices.”

One needs to be prepared to learn new domain that are appropriate to the job one is seeking. This experience came handy when he joined the Imaging and Printing division of HP in 2002. Only when one is fully convinced that they are capable of doing a job better, they should jump and that’s what Jiten did. He learnt what was important for him before joining HP and later Celstream. “The best comes only when you give your best,” says Jiten as he sums up.

Knowledge 2.0
“Updating knowledge is the important part of our life. We are in the knowledge-based industry where we have to work on two-way flow. You gain knowledge and deliver results. If you cannot deliver then its time to look for something else,” says Anil Bhatia, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Services, Marlabs Inc.

Bhatia feels giving your 100 percent is the most important thing in life. If one thinks their contribution is not enough, don’t have any challenges at their work and have not out lived their utilization, talking to the management is a route he prescribes. Of course if things still don’t get better it is time to think about switching over to some other area that meets the lack, “that was the driving force behind for whatever switches I made. I was aware that I don’t need to stick around just for salary. After reaching a certain level salary doesn’t mean you anything.”

Bhatia likes to talk to his clients to understand their business and technology problems better, whether it is a technical or non-technical problem. Such exercises has benefited him in understanding his own work better, “process is one thing which gives you clarity of thought to come out with more value added thought for your end-client which gives more satisfaction.”
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