End of an Era
What started a long long time ago… on a nice Monday morning of August 28th, 1995 @ Electronics City Bangalore, is finally coming to an end today on May 19th 2014 @ Hinjewadi Pune.
Almost 19 years, with Infosys (missed reaching the 20 year milestone!). While it seems like a lifetime, it really wasn’t. When I think back, I can still clearly recall the Monday morning when my uncle had come to drop me to the Koramangala Infosys Office and I had taken a bus from there to the Electronic City campus. I had walked cautiously into what was then just the building 9 and 10 (Heritage building) of the current Infosys City, Bengaluru. I walked to where some HR folks were sitting and told them that I was to join from this day and they greeted me with a warm smile and pointed me to a room where many others like me, freshers, were sitting to complete the joining in formalities. For some reason I had expected this to be similar to college’s first day experience: ragging. But then realized that this was now a professional environment, that I was now on a job and such things didn’t happen here.
We did most of our paper work and had sessions from NRN, NSR and one or two more people and towards evening, I was enquiring on how to reach to Ulsoor Lake (for that’s where my uncle’s home was) and boarded the appropriate bus. Immediately that day, I got a taste of how things were to be on the road in the days to come. It took 3 hours to reach back (a distance of about 20 km). Uncle and Parents were a bit tense when I finally landed home. Recall that those weren’t the days of mobile phones and they only knew that I should reach home latest by 6.30 pm. It was a time when “reaching late to office or unable to reach office” was a documented risk in project’s risk plan.
Anyway, from building 9, SBU3, NCR project, to building 14, to building 19 in Infosys Labs (then called SETLabs), to building 23 basement (we had to come to the ground floor even to take a bio break), to building 32, I had not just a moving career in Infosys, but also pretty enriching. I remained aligned to Microsoft technologies all along that helped me gain deep expertise in MS products and further helped me bag the Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional Award 6 years in a row.
The day I had joined the Bangalore office, NRN had announced that an office in Pune was being opened up and I immediately applied for it. By the time they started taking people in for it, I was already assigned to the NCR project where we were working with Windows 3.11 for workgroups, using Visual C++ 1.5 and writing graphical user interface components to be used in NCR’s Point of Sale terminal applications. This was very interesting work and I was personally doing very well, so when I expressed my interest to relocate to Pune, my manager tried to discourage me, but I insisted and was eventually moved to Nestle project, that was expected to be the first one to shift to Pune and start from there. However some delays in occupying the building (in Pune) and contract signing from Nestle, and I was on bench for about 1 month or so. During this time I tried to learn typing so that I could increase my speed of working with the keyboard. I would pick a random book or carry the newspaper and start typing from any random page in a notepad and later check for mistakes. While this turned out to be a good thing, the ‘being on bench’ surely wasn’t and I was getting frustrated sitting idle. So I finally approached my NCR manager again and he gladly took me back in his project.
I continued to stay on in Bangalore till June 2004 and the days, months, years were wonderful. I enjoyed the work in Infosys and had a great personal time as well with friends. We visited lots of places in and around Bangalore. I was in a much better physical shape then and could do trekking, and played regular badminton at a resort in Yalahanka, where we had become members.
Got married, had a daughter, bought a flat and I was pretty much settled in Bangalore, but then slowly the 25 km distance from HAL Airport Road to Electronics City started to take 1.5 to 2 hrs one side and this increased the overall time away from home significantly. Also unfortunately the climate didn’t suit both my wife and my daughter and both would keep catching flue frequently and had throat infections; causing negative effect on my work and their health.
Eventually in June 2004, I officially shifted to Pune, and helped start local setup for SETLabs. Did lot of running around initially to meet various DMs to help sell SETLabs and offered our folks for consulting opportunities. Over the years Labs grew from the initial 3-4 of us in Pune to a pretty decent size.
Once I became the lead for SETLabs Pune operations, I got to join the Pune DC EC and it was a turning point in my life. Apart from my day job, this opportunity got me loads of opportunities to contribute at the DC level and it was an excellent team that I got to work with here. As I look back, I have probably worked with almost all teams and committees. Been part of DC EC, Phase 1 Ops Council, Phase 1 Canteen Committee, Pune Transport Committee, worked closely with HR for many DC initiatives, drove the Innovation agenda for the DC, mentored clubs like Eco Club, VOY, and Robogear team and also worked for few years with Hinjewadi Industries Association (outside of Infosys). Am proud that due to my pushing, the DC is now celebrating its birthday every year as Pune DC Day on 15th May. It has been a truly enriching experience.
All these years I have worked in many projects, with many managers, and with very many people and have mostly good memories of everyone, baring maybe a few incidents. Overall, I can say that my career at Infosys was going pretty smoothly. In about a decade and a half years, I became Principal Architect. The industry took a downward turn and things become to slow down. The software industry was reaching an inflection point, where the initial rapid growth for the people and the organizations was hitting a plateau and slowing down. The industry was saturating, the services become commodity.
New joinees around this time started feeling disgruntled that they didn’t grow as fast as we had grown and they didn’t get as many onsite opportunities as there were earlier. Many good people left us both at junior and senior levels.
The question that everyone asked while I was at Infosys – How come you stayed for so long? And now the question is – Why did you resign? For me job satisfaction is the key. So far I was happy doing what I was assigned to. I pulled along all these years because I always happened to be doing interesting things. The last few years, the work I was doing on Immersive User Interface was exciting and we could experiment on lot of new technologies, concepts and ideas including things like touch and gesture driven interfaces, augmented reality, etc. However due to organizational direction, some of this work had to be stopped and put on back burner.
They say - all good things come to an end. Such is now the case with me. Having worked only for Infosys, I don’t know how the world outside is going to be. Those who change the companies often, at least have the experience of going and settling in a new company. For me, it is almost like rewinding back to 1995 and starting afresh in a new company, but I guess this was required now, before it becomes too late.
As today came near, I have been cleaning up my cabin and it made me realize how many things I had accumulated over time. But it also taught me something... that we tend to keep things with us, thinking that they are of significant value, but they just occupy space and over the years, we hardly ever go back to them. Same is true with our emails. If only we can learn to clean up at regular intervals, we will probably not need the big data solutions.
The last week has been all mostly farewell, meeting and saying bye to friends formed over the years. Emotional moments. Am glad that most people had good things to say about me, or at least they shared only good things J. Got some very good and thoughtful gifts that I will cherish my entire life. Will keep reminding of the great times I had with these folks here.
Adieu to all my friends and colleagues at Infosys… my family for so many years… my home away from home… till we meet again
It is time to say the standard developer line “Hello World!” Here I come.