Friday, 29 March 2013

Session at Aurora

Conducted a session at Aurora's Technological and Research Institute, as part of my Computer Society of India activities. The main speaker was Gangadhar who previously reported to me in the role of product development General Manager at Four Soft Limited. He is currently Vice President at Polaris Financial Technologies.

The session came out of a chat I had with him late last year. There was a particular position he had to fill at Polaris and as his team was struggling to get the right person, he jumped in. Even the the task did not proceed smooth and quick.

He had to interview more than 100 candidates and finally picked one from Noida at a premium. Gangadhar told me that he can give a good presentation based on this experience. I said why not, let’s go to an engineering college. I spoke with Prof. I.L.Narasimha Rao, and though I had been associated with CSI and him for quite some time now, I hadn’t been to his college. He agreed to host us and 02nd March was convenient for all of us.

We planned to start the session at 11 a.m. The commute time would normally be about 90 minutes, but we reached one hour late. Thanks to the India - Australia Test cricket match at Uppal stadium. Though the play starts at 9 a.m., the crowds were entering the stadium even at 11 a.m. Why do people go late to a game where they have to pay for entrance? Perhaps, due to strict security there were only one or two gates open to the public.

Anyways, once we reached the college and met the management and staff we began the meeting. I started off, as usual, talking about CSI and its activities, and requesting those who hadn’t taken membership to do so. As always in CSI presentations, I mention the Martin Luther King quote: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.“ In fact I repeated it a second time and there was very good applause for it.

The session was titled, “Starting It Right... Developing Solution Mindset” was a primer in how to get through interview and how to perform well on the job. The key point Gangadhar made was that as a programmer you give a product to your employer who has a customer that uses the software to service their customer. If you can keep the end customer in mind and have a mindset to provide solution accordingly, then you would help your employer and yourself in your career.

This solution mindset can start right from the interview stage itself. Job seekers need to take some time out to go through their potential employers website, understand their business and try to articulate how they can contribute to satisfy their customers needs. It need not be an in-depth information that one should display, a basic understanding indicating the solution possibilities should be enough.

Overall, Gangadhar’s talk was interesting with practical tips. He peppered his presentation with very good quotes.

Question and Answer session after the presentation was kicked off by Mr. Narasimha Rao himself. One of the students said that there are institutes in the city giving fake experience certificates. I told the students never to compromise on ethics and integrity. Every line on your resume should be authentic and should state only the projects and responsibilities that you actually performed.

To another question Gangadhar said that you can select a technology of choice (Java, .NET, Android etc) and go a bit deep in that area, but the students can apply to jobs in any technology. It’s important to demonstrate the solution mindset.

A lot of students gathered after the session was over and continued to interact with Gangadhar. This is a bit peculiar. Students don’t ask questions during the question and answer part, but come up after the session is over and then ask questions directly. There’s no reason why one should do that. As the Head-First series of books writes so colourfully, ‘There are no dumb questions.’

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