Join us each month for a series highlighting the unique career journey of our employees.
This month, we talk to a technologist.
1. Tell me about your career path (prior to coming to Centric).
In the early days, prior to joining Centric, I spent most of my time learning every different technology that Microsoft promoted by taking Microsoft Certified exams. Imagine that feeling of going back to school, studying round the clock, and crossing your fingers that you passed.
I started in Mumbai after college. First job was for a small firm called Global Intersoft. I transferred from there to the states, working for a partnership firm. From there I went to GA Sullivan, which was bought by Avanade.
But, my goal was always to be an independent contractor instead of an employee. Why? So I could participate in multiple projects and continue expanding my knowledge. I also dreamed of working for a company where consultants were treated like part of the team rather than project-to-project resources.
2. When did you start with Centric?
My career started with implementation of Visual C++ 4.0 and has followed the Microsoft Stack from the good old Visual Interdev days to ASP.Net, SQL Server and SSIS, which was my first project with Centric as an independent contractor. That was 2008.
In 2012, they hired me to work full-time.
3. What are some unique/funny/interesting stories you can share about your journey?
Practically every single developer has written code to identify duplicates. However, I wrote a 1600 line unduplicator / merger SQL stored procedure that merged two identified duplicates and created a single record. How did I do it? By incorporating relevant information from both.
It ran quite fast, but now that I know better, I would never write a single method or procedure that spans that many lines! Debugging was fun though! Next time it will only be a thousand lines long! (Please don’t tell my colleagues! I don’t want them to think I can’t code! 🙂 )
On one of my client projects we were setting up a new Dell server and a Dell technician came to install and configure an NT 4.0 Server (Yes it was a loooooooong time ago). He let me choose the password – and in my goal of setting a strong one, I did. As soon as he left, I tried to log in. For the life of me, my password would not work. I started to fret, and told my client that the password was not working.
But, I wasn’t ready to give up. I was so sure I had typed it correctly (after all you type it twice). I kept at it and finally realized that I had set the password with the Caps Lock on. So about 50 to 60 tries later I avoided a potential embarrassment of locking a client out of a machine on the day it was installed. Lesson learned: Write down your passwords or read Dilbert more often!
4. If you had to pinpoint a definitive moment in your career, what would that be?
I believe careers have several definitive moments and it’s hard to find one and say that is it. Even though I graduated with a Bachelor of Electronics, I knew I wanted to be in software from the get-go. I was surer of it after I joined a company where my peers would challenge each other every day to build something new, or take an innovative approach. Most of those peers still work with me today.
But, if I were to pick one moment, it’s when I decided to be an independent contractor. That helped formulate my career path. Working as an independent contractor increased my confidence and helped me become a better developer. It showed me that if I worked for it, I could achieve it.
5. How does your current role fit into your career path/goals?
Although my specific area has changed over time, product development has always been a focus. Being a Mobile Architect has allowed me to be part of projects that have been a mix of product-based apps and business apps, each providing a unique perspective. I would say my current role aligns very closely, if not directly with my career path.
6. Please describe consulting at Centric. What is this job like? Describe what your typical day looks like.
Clients are always the most important focus of a consultant. At Centric, that is always the goal and therefore I focus my day to day around this goal. There are different tasks complete projects. Sometimes there are changes or updates. I often contribute to internal projects at Centric. I also serve as part of a team that gets together for events, learning, and training. Our goal is to lead and implement change that impacts the software industry.
For mobile, it’s different because a lot of our clients are remote. So we work from home or the solutions center. For some clients, we’re on site more than twice a week on site. Depends on the client.
Our last project, was building a mobile app for a utility company using Xamarin. This was a more typical project. I worked with my colleague Brian Starr and we had a resource with Centric India. Our day would start at 6:30 a.m. Brian and I would work together trying to figure things out.
We were building a prototype for the client. Every day was like a mini-Hackathon because we were using new technology to prove the process would work. In March, we’ll resume, finish, and launch.
Some days, our work is challenging. But as long as you do what you like, it always fun! And yes, I would feel lost without a Macintosh!
7. How did you find Centric? Or, did we find you? What did your recruiting process look like?
I came to Centric through a referral from a colleague (John Brannock) from a prior company. I had several calls with team leaders. Then, I met with Marc Johnson at Donatos. Over some spicy Chicken Mariach, which we both loved, he asked me to join the MeM team as a developer with SSIS integration as my first focus.
Since I started as an independent contractor, the process was a bit different than joining as an employee, mostly in the level of paperwork that needed to be completed.
8. Is your practice currently hiring? Or, is the company currently hiring for roles like yours? If so, what positions are open?
There are always positions open in Mobile across multiple locations. Mobile is here to stay for a while. So, we’re usually always looking for iOS, Java, Xamarin developers.
9. What mix of skills, personality, and values do you find most important for a consulting role like yours?
Because consulting is always client-facing, important skills include the ability to talk and interact with clients as well as a strength in identifying problems that a client needs solved. Therefore, I would place communication skills as the top skill required.
Second, knowing that every minute you spend on a client engagement costs the client and valuing that as if you are spending your own money is vitally important to delivering on time and on budget.
Third, knowing how and when to say “No” is important so you convey exactly what can be done rather than disappointing the client by not delivering. It’s more important to be clear upfront than look good by saying “Yes” every time you are asked to do something.
As any software developer knows or has realized, software changes constantly, and the only way to keep pace with change is to keep training. I am always reading blogs, articles, what’s new, what’s coming. Even that never seems like enough to keep pace with rapid technological advances. I would also rate attending User Groups as a key training exercise because you learn a lot by being there in person.
10. What tips would you share with future Centric recruits?
There are two ways to enjoy a career at Centric: Join and adapt your skills by doing different projects or have a plan and share it during your interview.
When it comes to technologists, in most companies, you’re either a Microsoft-only or iOs-only resource. At Centric, you can choose what you want to do. Centric is an employee-first company and as long as you remain flexible, you can achieve your goals or your career path, whichever you chose.