My Journey through the Tech world
I can’t believe that it’s been 26 years since I stepped into the IT industry. I doubt the changes the industry, technology, business, compensations, etc. have gone through could have ever been predicted! When I decided that I would study Engineering rather than Medicine (against my father’s wish), I had not imagined the journey my life and career would take — it’s serendipity and purely accidental!
The first 5years of my career (1990–1995) in Wipro had laid a great foundation for the Tech career I was about to embark on. I passed out as an Electronics and Communication Engineer and had no exposure to Software other than the PCs I had used during my Microchip programming for project. I came to realize that software fascinated me more than hardware and now the only way I could switch was through self- learning. Those days, not everything was available on the internet, which was just starting to take off — Mozilla was the only browser available. So I learned via classroom training and learning through books, and that’s when I realized that a career in tech meant constant learning and ability to keep up with technology if one was to have a successful career. I focused on building a solid foundation around operating systems, computer hardware, diving into the world of Telecom and Networking.
The next 5 years of journey (1995–2000) was into the dotcom boom — internet took off big time!! I also moved to the US to get global exposure. The era of emails, browsers, HTTP, networking!!! I rode that wave along with the evolution happening in the Networking and Telecom industries which still remained two separate worlds. These 5 years were very crucial since this is the era where the demand for software professionals grew rapidly and the industry went from being a regular run-of-the-mill paying industry to a hot-shot high income, stock options wielding startups, instant millionaires phase. Of course, it was too good to be true and the dotcom bubble burst. One day I was a “on the paper” millionaire and next day I was a paper-pauper. This was also the era of rapid learning and rapid technology evolution. ATM, Frame Relay, dial up slow networking paved the path to faster Ethernet and the world of IP. This was also the era of broadband network explosion enabling all of us to have high speed internet connections at home. This era taught me the art of self-learning, being adaptable to change and keep pace with fast evolving technologies. It was Darwin’s theory at play — the people who could not adapt and keep up with change fell behind and the people who were able to keep pace shined and had an exponential growth in their career.
In the next 5 years (2001–2006), rapid optimizations and consolidations in the industry happened — consolidation of Telecom and Networking industries. Big traditional Telecom companies like Tandem, Lucent, Nortel, Baby bells, MCI disappeared, smaller network companies like Bay networks, Redback disappeared, Many Operating systems/server companies like Sun Microsystems, Compaq, all disappeared beaten by the advent of Laptops and smaller servers. It was a huge meltdown with layoffs being the norm of the day — people were just happy to have a job — forget about the big paycheck. This era also saw a huge boom into Application software buoyed by internet speed and availability. Microsoft, Oracle and banking automation saw a big boom. Many technology innovations were around Java, .NET and the offshoots leading to rapid applications proliferation. This was also the era of Mobile technology boom. From bulky Nokia handsets to slim handsets and telephony on the move was a big trend. Rapid Technology growth for Mobile tech companies like Motorola, Qualcomm, Nokia etc. This also brought the trend of e-learning, finding all information on the internet, new browsers taking birth, huge technology innovation and revolution which shrunk the globe and made communication cheaper and fast. This era taught me the trick of being able to absorb multiple technologies and how staying technical and being able to connect the dots and see where industry is moving and what’s driving it — basically the big picture, strategy and able to see changes coming down the pipeline was a huge learning from career point of view.
The next 5 years (2006–2011) saw the next shift to virtualization, VoIP evolution, Wireless connectivity (from Wired), Fiber based bigger bandwidth which eventually lead to cloud, IOT, Data analytics, ecommerce industries leading the way like Facebook, Amazon, Flipkart, all buying happening over the net and the technology evolution continues… as we are now into a full blown Security, robotics, Cloud, SDN, IOT technology driven, ecommerce and internet driven economy including the dark side bitcoin evolution creating a high tech dark side of economy and terrorism. The rapid growth in Mobile technology leading to powerful smart phones, android, apple, huge number of applications all feeding off of each other. I feel I am in this vortex that is just getting bigger and bigger with still no end in sight on how much more and what all possible twists and turns the technology and Industry will take us through over next decade or more. This era has taught me on how we can no longer think only local — global innovation is the norm. If you don’t see what’s coming down the pipeline and are ready to disrupt yourself, someone else will disrupt you. My learning — Disrupt yourself, don’t get too comfortable. Innovate and improvise continuously.
By : Pallavi Arora — Director, Technical Services at Cisco Systems India Pvt. Ltd