My Independence – End of a beginning

This is the final post in the series I started a few years back when I left US and landed in India (see first partsecond part and third part). It has been an inordinately long time since I wrote last in this series, and it must be attributed to my lack of perspective on things that were unfolding in my journey. It took me time to make sense of some things!

In my last post 20 months back, I had outlined a few options around rejigging my portfolio and I had to choose one or more:

  1. Continue to stay 1-person army and try to become high-end (thereby increasing my per-hour revenue)
  2. Hire and grow Palash into a consulting practice
  3. Rejig my portfolio by moving from people-intensive offering to technology-intensive offering

It turns out that I had not accounted for vagaries of my mind! I ended up making a choice that was not on the list by any stretch of imagination.  Continue reading

My Independence – Growing up

This is part-3 of a series in which I am writing a post every 6-7 months to chronicle my entrepreneurial journey (see first part and second part) and share my roadblocks as well as lessons. It is hard to write connected posts with such a long gap, you tend to get lost in details and what to exclude. Let me try to distill my thoughts and present a short version of my last 7 months (this is still a very long post!).

I left the last post at a point where I had just come out of a pretty depressing phase where nothing seemed to be going for me –called ‘informed pessimism’ in psychology literature – and I had entered ‘informed optimism’ phase. Most of the comments suggested that people thought I was on the verge of giving up, and they tried to encourage me. I have good news for them: I am continuing on the same path, with much more determination and fun. All of your best wishes definitely worked for me! Continue reading

B.Tech Degree Shops (aka engineering colleges) – Who will clean the mess?

Recently I met a 3rd year student of a private engineering college in Greater Noida. To avoid problems for me and the college, let’s call the College Best Standard Institute of Technology (BS-IT). Here is the profile of the student I met (let’s call him Sam), so that you can decide for yourself if this is a representative sample of students going to normal private engineering colleges in the hope of good education and degree:

Class XII – No name school in a no name place with average marks because he was preparing for IIT-JEE in Kota for 2 years

Class X – Top notch school in an industrial township, average marks

Decent performance in school level Maths and Science Olympiads (the ones that start from Grade 2-3), very good at logical and memory-related skills

Middle-class family, father a PSU employee Continue reading

IIT Mania – Can kids be kids?

Recently, I read the news about JEE (Advanced) Delhi topper (who is also JEE 4 nationally), who said

I have been preparing for five years for this exam

Wow! This means he started when he was in Class VIII, aged 13-14 years. He goes on to say

When I had school, I usually could put in about four or five hours of study every day, but as soon as the holidays begin, I usually put in about nine hours minimum

So when was he doing things 14 year old kids are supposed to do – like playing with friends, net surfing, reading non-textbook books, watching TV, playing pranks, socializing, etc.? Continue reading

Enabling Product Managers to manage Product Experience

In my last post, Product Manager, or Product Experience Manager, I described the disparate features and experiences that got broken in SiteZ and made the case that product management team should be responsible for overall product experience. In the final post of this series, I will present my views on how product management team should manage experience so that such issues can be minimized or avoided. Note that I am not talking about creating initial product experience or its next version, which is a topic of itself. I will focus only on managing the product as it goes through incremental changes.

There are 3 questions that must be answered by product management team at all times (and should be asked periodically):

  1. Are we seeing all the activities we should be seeing?
  2. Are we processing all the activities we see?
  3. Are we making good decisions based on our processing outcomes? Continue reading

Why you should vote for Mrityunjay Kumar (IITDAA EC election, 2013)

When I received the following mail in my Inbox, I was excited:

Dear Alumni,

We are glad to announce the elections of new members of the Executive Committee of IIT Delhi Alumni Association for the year 2013. It has been noticed that there is a very thin attendance in the AGM chaired by the Director IITD and Chairman IITDAA owing to the election process and cultural programme, which is not only embarrassing but also not in the interest of the Association. To improve attendance at the AGM, the program will start at 5:00 P.M. Voting will be from 5:00-6:30 p.m. Only


-Election of Executive Committee members (During AGM)                                                    27th April 2013

(Full text at the end of this post)

After coming back to India in Feb 2012 to start my second innings of life, getting associated with IITD Alumni Association (IITDAA) has been on top of my mind. And being part of the executive committee is one of the best ways of getting connected and make some impact. Continue reading

My Independence: Roadblocks and Lessons

In my last post How I earned my Independence, I talked enthusiastically about my newly found freedom to finally pursue what I wanted to do and expressed immense optimism about the future that beckoned me as I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey. Some of the feedback I got from the readers were on the lines of ‘wow, it seems you have it all figured out, cool!’. And I agreed with them, I had it all figured out – I had a start, some initial traction, plenty of goals to be accomplished, and lots of directions I could pursue!

If only life could be so simple and planned! J

This is not a hope and happily-ever-after story, I don’t think any entrepreneurial journey ever is. This is a dose of realism, somewhat disappointing to a few, definitely cathartic for me, and hopefully useful for a few people out there who believe in their dream and have to slog for it. Continue reading

How do I become an effective people and project manager?

A manager needs to handle a number of challenges around managing people, performance and career. A good manager understands his team, his peers and his organization very well and allocates right amount of time in managing each of them. A manager contributes to the organization by delivering results through his team members and by growing his team members to be managers and leaders in the long term. As a manager, you should be aware of the challenges you face and skills you need to overcome them. People are your biggest asset and you need to use and groom them well. As a manager, you should learn to handle these 5 challenges well:

  1. Managing performance
  2. Managing 1-1s
  3. Managing work
  4. Managing expectations
  5. Managing careers

Between individual and management career ladder, which one should I choose and why?

In India, best known career paths are those of managers. An Individual Contributor track hasn’t really been developed by companies. This means that there is a natural push towards management if someone wants to grow.
However, this is slowly changing. With the growth of product and internet companies in India, as well as constant desire of services company to move up the value chain, there is a renewed demand for high-quality individual contributors (IC), and they fetch a high premium in the salary. However, it is important to select the right company to be an IC, otherwise career will suffer. Most companies are bad at managing their star ICs and at offering them good career growth path. What is most important is to stay proactive about your career.