Adios Ugenie

About 1.5 years back I made a decision. It was drastic. It was unexpected. Frankly, I wasn’t giving it too much thought and was trusting my intuition. A few people called me up telling me not to. I had decided to switch jobs – quit an extremely successful career in IBM and join a startup.

The recession was expected to hit and it was supposed to be a bad time to switch jobs.

It was a roller coaster ride right from the beginning but I enjoyed it thoroughly. The first all hands meet (all hands meets in startups are NOT about going to a fancy hotel and spending the day playing games), we discussed the recession that was about to hit and several alternatives were discussed to cut the costs and extend the runway. Things didn’t work out as expected and the next all hands I saw the team strength reduce to roughly half!

Right from the beginning, I liked the “openness” culture that was part of the company. Engineers got to decide to a large extent the roadmap and product features, and also interact with and learn from the users directly. A lot of what was being built was being determined based on user feedback. We had a whole bunch of success stories on the way.

4 months into my job, I came to know that we were about to be acquired. It came as a surprise to me, because things appeared so drastic. We had only started tasting success. Why this sudden decision? What about my dreams of working in a startup? Will Ugenie continue to function like one? How will things be different? Will our dreams be crushed by this parent company? Will there be a change in culture?

However, things didn’t change a lot – if anything it got better. While we did gain some financial stability, which allowed us to think about and execute longer term projects (measured in weeks instead of days), things didn’t change drastically in terms of work and the responsibilities that people had. Plus, we got to work with an excellent team over at Lulu spearheaded by Bob.

Now when I look back, I feel, making the switch was one of the most important decisions I took in my life. The last 1.5 years has been such an experience that I could not have expected from IBM.

So, after this wonderful journey, here I am, making the next leap in my career. I have accepted an offer from an early stage seed funded startup and am beginning work early next week. Why the decision? Well, it just feels right and I am mentally prepared to take up the responsibilities that this job entails.

During the course, I made some amazing new friends each of whom is unique in their own personal way. I would like to thank every one of you, who I have interacted with directly or indirectly, for the many things that I have learnt from you. It was a pleasure to know you.

A parting quote:
…, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. –

Steve Jobs

Bye bye IBM, hello Ugenie

If 2007 has been a very long year, December has been a very long month!

I quit IBM this week and took up a new position in Ugenie today [1][2].

This news came as a surprise to many, who considered that I was quite loyal to IBM. IBM has been a splendid place. There is no dearth of opportunities there. The more you are ready to take up responsibilities, the more you are given.

So what on earth made me switch?
The primary reason for the switch is, I wanted to work in a startup on something that is directly used by non-technical end users.

How do we serve a large user base? How do we keep up with the ever increasing and conflicting demands of users? How are things prioritized? How is it that a small group of 15-20 individuals can do something in a matter of days, that large organizations take weeks to implement?

The equation in a startup is quite different from that of large organizations. I have read this before, but have never had first hand experience. So I decided to take the plunge and experience it myself.

And then there was the question of the 'right time'.
Is this a good time? Should I wait? What will I gain, what will I miss? The more I thought about it, the more it confused me. So finally I just chose to go with Ugenie.

The work seems to be interesting. I am looking forward to it!

With some people predicting a dot-com crash in 2008, was this a good idea?
Time will tell. But whatever the case, I am not quite concerned.

Eclipse workshop in IIIT Bangalore

So here I was conducting yet another workshop on Eclipse. This time it was in IIIT Bangalore.

The campus is great, so are the students. It was the most interactive session I have ever been to. The students were quite active throughout the day and all of us were filled with enthusiasm until the very end.

The workshop began at 9:30 am with Sudar Oli giving the kick off speech on IBM University Relation activities. This was followed by 2 theory sessions, followed by a hands-on session. The workshop lasted till 8 pm and I hear this is quite normal for guest lectures in IIIT!

Workshop on Eclipse in VIT, Pune

I was part of a team of three (myself, Sayeed Sanaullah and Gaurav Bhattacharjee) from ISL, who conducted a one day workshop on Eclipse in Vishwakarma Institute of Technology, Pune.

We had 3 theory sessions and about 3.5 hours of hands-on sessions. We covered the following topics during the theory and practical sessions:
* Introduction to Eclipse
* Plug-in development in Eclipse
* RCP application development in Eclipse.

The response was decent and I truly enjoyed the day, although at the end of the day it left us really tired.

This workshop was conducted as part of the IBM Technology Day series that is being conducted in various colleges in India. This is the second time I am being involved in a IBM Technology Day.

The very first IBM Technology Day in India was conducted in SJCE, Mysore in April. This was a 2 day workshop with about 7 speakers from IBM Software Group, Systems Group and Global Services. There were students from 7 colleges in and around Mysore who were part of this.

Two down; still going strong

I just completed two years in IBM! It has been an interesting, challenging and rewarding journey so far. It has been my pleasure to work with some of the industry leaders and some of the most unique people here.

I see a blend of skills, knowledge and passion in the people. I have been involved in a variety of projects, which have helped me understand IBM's business and the role of technology better. There is still a lot more to learn and contribute.

Hackday @ IBM

The power of blogging was apparent. IBM had its first unofficial HackDay.

What was impressive was that the contest and the details spread through blogging and then got publicity because it was recognized by some of the biggies.

I participated. I came up with a simple and useful hack, which has been listed under the 'Best improvement' category. More details about the event can be found here.

There were calls, where participants discussed their hacks.

Thanks to all the organizers.

Awaiting the next one! 🙂

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