I am writing this blog in response to a recent blog titled Recruiting like crazy. I initially started by writing a response, but since it got so long – i decided to make it a blog entry 😉 Here’s my response:
I have been reading all the opinions above this one. I agree with some and disagree with some. However, here are a few humble thoughts. I am no expert, but what i write below comes from own experiences and are personal opinions:
> So if you are a fresh graduate with dreams of changing the
> world, a small 10 person company might be a better
> option than being just Another Brick in The Wall!
Those are strong words! Never dismiss what you have never tried. I spend about 3 years with such an organization. While the learning was, like you said, incredible – my earnings were not as exciting.
Secondly, my view of the techie world was limited to the product and services of my company. The size of the applications i wrote/ managed/ maintained or designed never went beyond a certain size (small to medium) and i had to work looong hours – not that i am complaining – i enjoyed it. My competition were a limited few and it is in their midst that i felt i was the best (frog in the well kind of thing)!
My first interview in my own area of expertise opened my eyes. I realized that i knew nothing beyond a certain limit. However, my advantage was that whatever little i knew – i knew like no one else 🙂 Needless to say, i was rejected. Having specialized in technologies rather that the area of application, my skills outdated everytime technology changed. The learning curve was steeping faster than i could scale it (after all we DO get older dont we).
My selection with my current company (which happens to be one of the top 3 in the country – one among your list) changed my perspective. It started with the salary. I realized that since my salary was linked to my performance – i could control my gains. Also, since i was sitting right next to IIT-ians, toppers – my competition was fierce. To make it worse newcomers who scored better were younger and were prepared to study harder didnt make my job easier 🙂 In a nutshell, i was in a place where being good was only the beginning ! However, the plus was that making friends with such people helped me gain insights into thoughts and a deep understanding of what made them tick. It punctured the bubble of arrogance and taught me – no matter how silly the guy/gal standing opposite looks, he/she can always teach you a thing or two. While this holds true for smaller companies as well, one does have the luxury of peering into the minds of IIT-ians in there 😉
Next came trainings (something which was not as frequent in my older, smaller company). The trainings covered various subjects – even non-technical ones like spoken languages, behavioural aspects, stress management, structural thinking, leadership qualities, to name a few – concepts which were virtually unknown to me in my previous company. I was so busy coding that i never stopped to think about this stuff! Apart from that, i could also devote my spare time to learning whatever new technologies i wished. The challenge was to find spare time. And people who managed to do so, saw their salaries and positions rise because they were putting in extra efforts 🙂 I am sure everyone wants to be appreciated.
> The idea of "knowledge workers" is a big sham. IT professionals are
> glorified in India and elsewhere as smart people doing highly
> intellectual tasks. I think that is very far away from the truth. I refuse
> to believe that TCS, Infosys and Wipro have intellectual work
> for 110,960 people.
You might be surprised ! Intellectual work is always there – the way the culture works in here is, one needs to elevate ones credibility to get it 🙂 Its called Competition.
Knowlege management is something that i have seen being scorned at in the responses to the article. In the company that i am – i think that the secret of IT life! Take an instance where i was required to design load balancing into an existing system. A quick search on the "knowledge net" revealed actual case studies implemented in earlier projects – which in turn were modelled on something done earlier. I could see a few shortcoming, but i soon realized that the case-study was commented (like this blog) of people who had seen it too. The marvellous fact was that the author went on to incorporate the suggestions in the future project and was happy to answer mails and phone calls about it despite having moved to a different project. He was even able to add a few more points having had gained more experience after having moved on 🙂 Hows that for Knowledge Management. A year or more down the line (today), i am seeing myself do the same thing. Again, something i would have never done in my earlier company.
> So obviously most work happening here is mundane and repetitive.
> Companies seem to think that the solution for every problem comes
> when you throw more employees at it. So you are essentially paying
> smart men and women big salaries to handle stupid tasks.
Although this is not entirely untrue, do you think that organizations actually solve problems like that? Come now, lets not be naive ! None of what i do is mundane. Repetitive – yes ! But then, what isnt? I think thats something even those in smaller companies complain of (i still have friends in there, you know).
> The mantra today is "The more the employees, the bigger and better the company"
> when it actually should be the "The more innovation, the more the creation
> of intellectual property, the bigger the international presence, the better the company".
> When was the last time you heard of a ingenious new software coming from
> any of these giant Indian companies?
My friend, only a few of these companies are product-based companies – they are all service companies. And those that are, like Veritas and BMC (though they may not be Indian – as in originating in India) and Pramati are at the top of line in their specific areas (ever heard of their products). As for innovations, step inside once and you might change your mind. I have seen the word ingenious redefined several times. And if the smaller companies have such a great recommendation – they arent particularly innovative either. Dont get me wrong – they are all busy trying to be bigger 🙂
> Perhaps the most worrying factor is that, as with all good things, this phase will not last
> forever. A few years back some companies laid off 50-100 employees and there was
> a major hue and cry about it. However this time round the layoff would not be in the
> single or double digits. It would be on a scale that India has never seen before. There
> are no employee bodies to protect employee interests and so I wonder who can possibly
> stop this day from coming. Having said that, IT employees don’t even seem willing to
> recognize this possibility.
The same has happened with almost every other industry, why should IT be any different. I would give more credit to the IT community. They are enterprising, networking and have come up with ingenious ways to do things. We have survived the dot com fall and we will survive any future such eventualities as well 🙂
> The value of an individual is negligible or zero. You are no more than an
> EmployeeId. So if you are a fresh graduate with dreams of changing the
> world, a small 10 person company might be a better option than being
> just Another Brick in The Wall!
Its called team work – my friend. Huge projects (like buildings) are not possible without several individuals (the bricks). The thing that charms me is that so many individuals perform together with a single goal in mind. Do not belittle their efforts. They work atleast as hard as everyone else, if not more.
And finally, heres a small summary:
There will always be big companies and small ones. There’s nothing wrong with that. If working in a smaller company has it advantages, so does working in big ones. What matters the most is ones own principles, ability to put in honest work and keep the learning channel open.
Comments and Criticisms welcome