Prepare Yourself for the Big Change

This is part 2 of my 3 part series where I took the important decision of leaving a high flying corporate life and joined a starup. I mentioned various fear factors in my last article.

Having decided to quit, next task is to prepare for the change. Good management principles teaches how one should plan for his or her exit or growth. Ideally people in the leadership roles should be developing an exit strategy from the time they take a position, its an integral part of career planning.

Plan Your Successor

Nobody is indispensable in a work environment.

First thing to do is delegate responsibilities and become invisible over a period of time. I planned and introduced my team to customer engagements that I’ve been handling, inter team interactions where I had to take decisions and other organization level activities. Before I communicated my decision to leave, I mentored and ensured that my team can independently handle all the activities that I was responsible for. This is another management principle where one become invisible or irrelavant so that he or she can move to the next level.

Its always a challenge when you have to take up new responsibilities during your notice period. Most times, it will be simple enough where one needs to use the knowledge and experience that he or she amassed over a period of time.

End of the day, you need to leave lasting impressions. Make sure that your work and relationships in the organization are not impacted, instead the respect for you goes up.

Plan for Your New Life

This was easier than I thought. Once your financial status is clear, next set of tasks are:

  • Build your network and keep the contacts live
  • Update your linked in and let your connections know your plans. This will come handy in future
  • Aquire machines and software you need if you are heading to a startup.
  • Get cell connections, health insurance and such essentials. It will be difficult to manage these once you become nobody and when you don’t have a salary statement to produce.

Overall, my exit and transition to the new phase were uneventful. I just didn’t have breathing time as the work started with even more agression on the next day itself. More about that later.

Follow Your Passion

This is part 1 of a 3 part series where I discuss my decision to leave Novell, how I prepared myself to take the big change and how I coped with the new environment.

13th February 2015 was my last working day in Novell    It was a hard decision considering that I was associated with Novell for 18 years.  Friends and colleagues were even more puzzled with my decision of joining a startup since I spent a good part of my career in corporate world.  One question I was asked often in the last few weeks is about my feelings.

Are you worried about leaving?  Aren’t you scared that you won’t have the paycheck going to your account at the end of the month? etc. etc.

Many of the fears were very eloquently discussed in a 4 part series by Ravi Vekaresan  ex Microsoft MD.  One will notice a lot of similarities while dissecting each of the points that Mr. Ravi called out in his articles.  It was sort of reaffirming my thoughts that I can survive.  Many people did this.  If not now, then when?

I borrow a few statements from his articles as it was no different from what I went through and what my friends asked me.

Fear of being nobody

Probably this will be the far most important issue one has to deal with if you are in the leadership role.  You will have to deal with an emotioanl imbalance suddenly when no one is waiting for your approval.  You feel dejected when you don’t have to douse the fire. You are worried if your TRP comes down over a period of time as you are not quoted in the media that often.

Dealing with loss of high flying lifestyle

As a corporate executive, one will enjoy a number of benefits.  High flying habits such as flashing your loyalty cards where ever you go, the grin on others face when you are allowed to board the aircraft ahead of other unlucky souls because of your medallion status,  smile on your face when you see your name flashing on the TV screen as you enter the full service Marriot room etc. are a few of the unwanted habits that you acquire during your corporate life.

Money Matters

You will get the picture if you are a salaried employee for a couple of decades.  Though it makes a lots of difference in the initial days of the career, as time progresses, one takes it granted and stays with the comfort of a handsome amount getting deposited into your bank account at the end of every month.  A lot of planning is required when you decide to let that go.  Commonsense says that one needs to plan for his 18 months of survival  at the minimum before you take the plunge.

Social status

Definition of social status has changed from your community where you live knowing you to being known as a thought leader in the industry.  It has become your LinkedIn rating or number of twitter followers or number of google search results.  I’m not sure if we are really bothered about your immediate community anymore.  It could be an important factor for a few.

Having decided to quit, decided to let go all the comfort and financial security, next step is to prepare yourself for the big change.  I’ll talk more of that in the next post.
 

5 Must for a Cloud Computing Job

I was recently asked to list 5 must for a cloud computing job. It can greatly differ for roles and kind of industry that you work for. Innovation and rapid delivery is a must for a software developer or architect while managing virtual environments and data management skills are necessary for a data center manager. However, I think there are a few common factors that will be applicable for all

Understanding of IT as a Service

One of the advantages for cloud offering is the service model or the shopping cart kind of experience where IT managers shop for the service using their credit card instead of building it themselves. IT managers have to transition from owner of the service to provider of the service. They have to give out their control and focus more on negotiating service quality with appropriate vendors. Prospective candidates transitioning to a cloud domain must understand cloud categories and deployment models. Understanding the business beyond the technologies and identifying ways and means to fulfill business requirements to maximize the productivity of their end-users is a common trait they should demonstrate.  Analyst Peter Christy at the Internet Research Group refers to this as  inversion of enterprise IT from an application-centric to a people centric structure.

Managing Virtual Environments

Be it a developer or an IT manager, at some point in your transition time, you will have to deal with virtualized environments.  You should be proficient in designing and managing IT infrastructure using hosted services, managing policies and configurations within private or public cloud as needed.  These skills will help an IT manager to negotiate their SLAs correctly and realistically.

Innovation and Rapid Delivery

Probably one of the most appealing aspects of the cloud computing is the agility with which one can realize their solutions. This is particularly true for developers as well as IT managers. They can fulfil business requirements via innovation and integration of cloud services with agility. Gone are the days where one raise a purchase request and wait for the approvals and subsequent delivery of hardware and software.

Security

One of the drawbacks of not having complete control over the services that you offer is security. This can be a daunting task if the services are offered from a public cloud. One should know how to manage security and compliance and should be familiar with various compliance requirements across verticals and locations. Good understanding of applications delivered from the cloud, the way users accessing them and security implications of the whole model will be a must have trait for a cloud engineer. Analyst Mark Diodati at Gartner says that the shift to the cloud and the consumerization of IT have complicated the task of identity and access management in the enterprise security environment.  Federation protocols, OAuth, REST, SCIM, BYO{D,I,A} etc are a few keywords that they can research on.

Data Management Skills

Most organizations will have a hybrid cloud approach where they will have data managed from on-premise and off-premise. Most medium and large enterprises prefer to keep their critical data such as identity and IP related information on-premise. Candidates opting for a cloud computing job must possess necessary skills to design systems to manage and integrate data from off-premise to on-premise. This would also include ability to get deeper understanding of data through analytics and management through big data technologies.
This is no way a comprehensive list of skills. I believe the above items are the intersection of skills and technologies that every individual must possess before adopting cloud technologies or services.

Blogo – Updated Blog Editor

I mentioned in my previous post that I’m waiting for a private beta invitation from Blogo, one of the blog editors on OSX. Well, as everyone complains, OSX is missing Windows Live Editor, one of my favourite editors.

I received the beta invitation today and I am posting this via Blogo. These are my initial impressions. Let me state the good parts first:

  • The editor is very polished and minimalistic. I liked the overall layout.
  • Adding my WordPress based blog was a breeze.
  • Preview is decent enough

Now comes my irritations. It is still in the early beta and hence most of these pitfalls will be temporary. Also, remember that I like Windows Live Writer and Windows One Note. Microsoft has best editors possible in their applications.

  • Even the basic formatting is very erratic. Many time I literally reformatted certain sections to maintain the indentation properly
  • Editor is very minimal. All that you can do is basic formatting and lists. No support for indentation, regular blog features like predefined header styles, horizonal rules, tables etc.
  • No image support. I just couldn’t find a way to insert an image though they claim full image editing support
  • Preview requires you to be online. It doesn’t have a way to download your stylesheet and render the page locally. This makes it difficult to author posts offline
  • The editor couldn’t prefetch my tags and categories at times. I had to literally type most times.

What I would like to see?? Oh! its very simple. Give me the Windows Live Writer on OSX 🙂

 

Organizing a Hackathon

We are trying to organize a hackthon at office in this month. Thinking around this has been going on for a while and finally decided to pick a month where people will be available and release pressure will be moderate and then work backwards to arrive at a schedule.
As usual, we need to be clear about the following while organizing a hackathon.

Agree upon the goals
This is the first and foremost important step. You are asking employees to spend one or more days to work on something they are passionate about by leaving their regular work. You will also have to articulate the goals very well to get support from the management. Employees planning to participate in the hackathon should know what they should achieve in these days and what they can demonstrate. I called it as their acceptance criteria.

Pick a Date
Many teams will have releases scheduled continuously. Its important to choose a convenient date to ensure maximum participation. As always more the merrier. We looked at various release schedules, local and remote holiday schedules and other local events such as school holidays, community events etc. before choosing a date.
Once the date is chosen, work backwards that helps you organize logistics such as:

  • Organizing team needs time to review and finalize proposals, organize T-shirts and other goodies.
  • Pick a demo day. It could be on the last day of the hackathon or the next day depending on convenience and number of participants
  • Provide enough time to your admin and IT teams to organize logistics such as hacker’s dens, networking and power infrastructure and lots of food and caffeine.

Market the EventHackfest-Flayer1
Though this is an office event, it is important to market the event sufficiently to build the momentum. We have been sending frequent flyers, pasting posters and encouraging managers and other senior members of the teams to help their team members come up with good ideas. We are also planning short videos that can be streamed to various monitors in the common area. Authors will talk about their ideas and how it adds values to our customers.

Event Rule
Participants should be well aware of the selection criteria. Though the genenal practice is to encourage everyone to participate (its a community event), there has to be some rules laid down for judging to be effective. There will be people participating for the spirit of the event and others who are serious about what their contributions are. Most probably the juding criteria will include:

  • Imapct to our customers
  • Innovation
  • Achievements

Schedule

Next important step is the schedule. This includes detailed schedule for the hacking days and other milestones that help you to start with the hacking. This has to be clear to everyone to manage the logistics and also to maintain the sanctity of the event.

Our hackathon is planned for 20th and 21st of this month. Watch this space for more details of the event.

Its Been A While

I just noticed that my blog was dormant for a while.  I’m not sure about the reasons.  It could be that I moved to MBP and I was really missing Windows Live Writer. Oh!! Boy, I really fell in love with that little application that Microsoft gave away for free.  It was just a breeze to publish from WLW.  I often searched for similar apps on OSX and the popular suggestion was to use MarsEdit.  Honestly, I was a little intimidated by this editor and couldn’t post even a single one.  I used WLW in a virtual machine for the last two posts. 

Days and months passed by.  Then it occurred to me that I must write.  Isn’t writing the best way to express yourself?  Fresh searches for a better editor with the hope that people still prefer to write regular blogs though every one can express themselves in 144 characters today.  I came across PixelPumper and Blogo. I’m writing this using PixelPumper and kind of liking it for the simple editing.  I’m hoping that Blogo team will signs me up for the beta testing.  Anyway, I’m glad that I started writing again!!!.

Never Say Good Bye

We parted our ways yesterday

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He came to me 9 years back.  He was a family since then.

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You were like this when I got you…

He took me to places.  We made our own roads.

He saved me from road rages, accidents..

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He came with me for Tsunami Relief work.  He was happy to be part of the team

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Dear Scorpio, Donnie misses you the most. He liked to watch other dogs on the road from your height.  He liked the wind blowing in his face through your window.

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We will remember you always…

Moved to our new house

It was a long journey that took close to 27months from here

to here….

And still, a lot more to do…..

Did You Share Yourself Today?

I have been reading Times Life.  The theme for today was sharing. Helping the needyA few of the captions particularly caught my attention as I myself believe in that.  The author was trying to convey the message that not having enough money to donate is not a reason to hold back on sharing.  You get the meaning if you read this comment from “Soul Curry“;

If you make two cups of tea, one for your husband and one for yourself, then you have not made use of God’s gift of life.  Make three cups of tea and vie the third cup to a stranger and your life will be blessed.

I always believed that you get maximum joy when you give something that you enjoy yourself.  Philanthropy should not be to get your photo and name appear on  Page 3.  Acts 20:35 states that

It is more blessed to give than to receive

Also, Bhagavatgeetha says

one should be concentrating on Karma and not on the fruit of karma.

You can see the importance of sharing in many places in the Bible, from old testament to new. (Luke 12:33)

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

Though there are different interpretations for the above statements, I believe its about knowing the pain of the poor so that you help them to what ever way you can.

Have a look at the traffic signal, next to your street or the families helping you with various chores at home, you will find a number of ways to help them.

ACM India Launch

I was attending ACM India Launch at Taj Residency today.   ACM India was formally announced today though ACM India was active for over 3 years now.  The program started with a brief introduction by Dr. Anand Deshpande. Co-Chair, ACM India,
Prof Dame Wendy Hall, FRS. President, ACM  and Dr. John White CEO, ACM.  Dr. Rick Rashid, Sr. VP Microsoft Research presented various activities they do in the research area.  I must say that we all enjoyed the talk by Prof. Barabara Liskov about her work on CLU and Abstract Data Types.  She mentioned a number of papers that I liked particularly.  A few of them are:

There were a few more.  She also explained liskov substitution principle.  The next talk was by Dr. Raj Reddy.  I liked his knowledge navigator video very much.  After this, Sir Tony Hoare talked about the international verified software initiative.   Today’s programs were concluded with a panel discussion on lack of research initiatives in Indian education institutions. Various reasons and possible remedies were discussed. 

ACM Bangalore chapter is organizing compute-2010 tomorrow and day after.  I’m planning to attend the morning session where they talk about cloud computing.