It seems like a lifetime ago when I, as a teenager, was deciding what major to take in my undergrad. Torn between my love for physics and my interest in computers, I chose Electronics thinking that I would build the next super computer. While I haven’t quite built a super computer, my journey nevertheless has been very interesting – I have worn many hats -as a programmer, project manager, marketer, product manager, business manager in Fortune 500 companies with hundreds of thousands of employees to startups with 10s of employees. My journey is far from complete – yet, when I look back over the last 12 years, l have lived and experienced beyond the wildest dreams of that teenager deciding what major to take. I’d like to share a couple of experiences that were really important to moving me along in my path wherein I learnt some techniques which I continue to use.
The first was when I was a junior programmer at a top IT firm in India. While I liked technology, I was much more interested in the working with clients and being able to influence the product. I saw some of my senior colleagues getting an opportunity to work onsite. I didn’t want to leave it to chance for things to fall in place for me. So I expressed my interest to my manager. I asked him what I could do to get the opportunity of working in US. I told him that I was open to learning other technologies or specialize in a different domain, if that could open the doors for me. This got the ball rolling in the system for me and within 8 months, I was working in Boston with Fortune 500 companies. My learning from this experience is that to get what we want, we have to share our goals and dreams with others.
I am eternally thankful for all the people who have helped or mentored me in my career. Early on from college, I have sought and have been blessed with mentors who have taken time out to guide me in my journey. More recently, I wanted to transition to product manager position. I requested one of my colleagues, who had prior experience as a product manager, to help me get a break into the role. We worked to come up with a plan, he introduced me to sources of information and opportunities which helped me gain the requisite skills and even became a champion for me in the company. As I grow in my career, I hope to continue meeting some of the smartest and nicest people from whom I could learn from.
Lastly, as many of us, I started as a programmer in early 2000s. Since then many new trends and technologies emerged. As I moved into other roles and got my MBA, I lost my touch with coding. A few years down the line, I stumbled into Big Data analytics at work. Numbers could tell a story, validate your answers and provide you with insights. I was fascinated and wanted to learn more. I realized that without having the strong technical skills, I will not be able to get into the depths of it. I started taking courses online via Coursera, read books and attended meetups. It was painful at first, debugging code and correcting my mistakes, but I persisted. After a few months, I gained somewhat proficiency to tackle some of the harder problems. I am in no way an expert, but definitely far better than when I started out and have a much much better understanding on the capabilities and the opportunities.
I firmly believe:
When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream – Paulo Coelho
So dream on. Strive for what you want. May the force of nature be with you.