Saturday, January 29, 2011


Over the past twenty years, I have worked in the petrochemical, software and telecom industries.

I started my career writing software. I found a pharma company who was in need of a desktop software which could run their billing, accounting and inventory management. No the word ERP was not invented back then.
This was in the days of Clipper and dBase. So I set about single handedly churning out code and in 50 days delivered the system to the client.
After this there were a few tid-bits of programming work which I managed to get. But I quickly saw this was not going to be my main bread-earner. Especially since in those days I was simultaneously studying for my CA degree.

So after clearing CA, my first job was handling the capitalization of a petrochemical unit in India's largest private sector company. This is where I saw that to be successful in your career, you don't just have to be an expert in your field of study. You have to be an expert in business dynamics. You have to grasp the basics of the industry domain. So I not only balanced the books in this position, but started on a journey of learning all about heavy machinery, furnace temperatures, cooling towers, construction, civil engineering, chemical formulae and most importantly the concept of backward integration and value add.

This job also gave me my first taste of international exposure and got me globe trotting. I spent about a year in King Henry's Reach in London, UK. After this I spent a gruelling 18 months on the site of the petroleum refinery coming up in Jamnagar, India.

The first of the topics I will be writing about in my later posts will be - Taking Responsibility. Watch out this space for future notes.

By this time I had started getting into learning yield management though my job remained capitalization of the refinery units. I had also decided I wanted to go back to my first passion - software solutions. This was easier said than done. the year was 2001 and the software industry was in the grips of a bubble which had just burst. Joining an ISP in that time I found myself doing what I loved best, but I also realized it was necessary to again be aware of the business domain more than anything else. Having taken a leap of faith, going from a stable and growing petrochemical sector, I felt like I had stepped off a conveyer belt onto an escalator going down fast. What kept me going was this is the sector I felt at ease in. So I set myself off on another learning expedition. This time it was the network layers, communication protocols, billing software, emerging cutting edge technologies, (cutting edge at that point of time in history; today's obsolete - another lesson learnt). When I felt confident enough in this field, I used the time on my hands to sit for an exam for CISA. Cleared that with flying colours securing the first rank in India and fourth rank in the world.
Soon after clearing CISA, I joined a telecom systems integrator firm. now I was getting closer to my goal of working again on creating software solutions.

I will discuss my five years in the Indian software industry as part of a separate topic.

Having spent a good amount of time in telecom, learning the ropes and consulting operators on their OSS/BSS roadmaps, I felt it was the time to take a plunge back into telecom operations. Having been on the consulting side, I wanted to get my hands dirty on the actual implementation and see if the roadmaps I had designed actually led to the benefits I had planned for the clients. Another urge was to get into the thick of things and find out what challenges are faced when you are actually on the field, as opposed to being in the coach's box.

And what an experience that has turned out to be. It has given me amazing insights into the areas which I earlier thought I had already mastered. Truly there is something new to learn everyday.

That leads me to most of the topics I plan to write on - Challenges of Change Management, The Elusive Business Process, Success through Structure.

So that's so far as introductions go. On to the promised topics from next week onwards.