Start of a journey

Delta Hamlin Pvt. Ltd. (Jun 1994 till Sep 1994)

Vineet, started his career with Delta Hamlin Pvt. Ltd. (a subsidary of C.D.I.L.). It was a campus placement. He started there to explore hardware circuits of a Washing Machine. Later upon learning about his potential, seniors moved him to design division and work with headoffice to learn new tools in CAD for components design. After 3 months of association, he got a call from Punjab Communications Limited (later known as PunCom), Mohali (near Chandigarh) to join. He joined there as Design Engineer. Interviews had already taken place during campus, but appointment was on hold. Also, he believes a reference from his friend had helped to get this most awaited change at that point.

Much needed break

Punjab Communications Limited (Sep 1994 till May 1997)

In PunCom, he was inducted in production department and put on repair of SMPS power supplies. This was not to his liking though. He delivered his best to learn design elements there, troublesoot. It was a tough task. In college days, he and his friend, Puneet Goel, had done several projects from small lab setup at their homes and continued to develop that passion in free time during job as well.

Yes, more can still be done

He had special interest and liking towards automation, embedded and software. He had learnt C++, Assembly languages in college and was looking eagerly to apply those concepts in office projects as well. After a successful month of repair / understanding of SMPS at production floor, digital / software background came to the knowledge of manager of design function and he was transferred there for working on CNC automation software.

With proven skills and maturity in taking design activities further, the duo were assigned some more challenging tasks in embedded and software, in the field of supervisory control for Radio Telecommunications Network. Mr. Ajay Jain, manager at that time, who identified opportunities and trusted him to work on these projects. As time passed away, more complex projects were done. VSAT control system (hub and spoke), 16+1 modem redudnancy management system. Enhanced supervisory (without a need of terminal) was developed. Latter two projects were done almost single handedly by him.

During this journey at PunCom for 3 years, he developed an excellent knowledge base and experience in the field of electronics design, embedded software, use of complex instruments like logic analyzer, spectrum analyzer, new technology areas like xDSL, SNMP, CMIP etc. For his contribution, he was awarded, an appreciation letter in 2nd year, which was rare in history of PunCom. Special thanks to the manager, who always encouraged the efforts.

During 1994, electronics engineering, used to be most coveted qualification, was not generating enough jobs in India. This had caused, engineers either to move away to US or switch profession to pure software play Or go for higher studies.

Embarking on pure software journey

Vineet got an opportunity at this point to switch to Hughes Software Systems (now called as Aricent Technologies) in May 1997. It was at this time, he moved out of Chandigarh for the first time. Hughes had not considered past experience of much relevance to their ongoing embedded projects which had significant component of software in it. Likely, that they appreciated his programming skills, C++, during the interview. Around that time, he got offers from DCM data systems, Shyam Telecom, which being Indian firms, didn’t attract much in those days.

Hughes Software Systems (now known as Aricent Technologies) (May 1997 till Nov 2007)

It was a great beginning, specifically moving out of a public sector in those days to an MNC was a dream come true. Attraction of Hughes was primarily for the way they take care of their employees career (appraisals, trainings, quality, customer visits, free cafetaria, free bus service etc) and the cutting-edge technologies. To him, it was a change in profession and starting all over again. He joined here as software engineer, at the same salary which he was getting in Chandigarh. Leaving PunCom was extremely tough, due to long association and challenging projects, core to his engineering education. It was further made difficult by the complex relieving process, which had gone through rough patches for over 2 years. Affinity for learning had relieved him of all the pain that has come in this transition. It was a second major milestone after start of career at PunCom.

Becoming a HSSian, promotions, awards

During this association of 10 years with Hughes / Aricent, he learnt several technologies, processes, communications, management. He grew upto Sr. Engineering Program Manager. He got some opportunities to lead or setup small projects. He worked as well as led teams varying from 10 member and right upto 100+ engineers. As pure technical manager, he trained engineers, created solutions in embedded, subscriber management system - switch interface. C++ had been his favorite. Lot of other scripting languages (TCL/Tk, Perl, Awk, Bash, flex, bison, doxygen, latex, lisp) were learnt in the process of automating routine implementation activities. Lot of tools - Clearcase, Rational OOAD suite, Purify, GNU Tool chain, Linux etc were all learnt in first two years. In this period, he got an opportunity to travel to HNS (USA), Integration activities at Indonesia, Japan; and enhanced his learnings in systems, processes for field, troubleshooting. Overall, initial few years, has been great time, where he learnt and applied maximum. Time was never a constraint in learning process. He had a great company of people like V. Thandapani, Srivathsan (his first mentor), Santosh and Rakesh Vij, Raghu, V. Chandra. Most of them moved on to different companies by 2001.

He remembers very clearly, in those days, they used to work late hours, to finish tasks or learn more, creating tools / scripts etc. Good old days, ordering food from Nirula’s, enjoying A/C, facility to commute back home in odd hours. No abuse by engineers as well as full support of organization leaders (Vinod Sood, Manoranjan Mahaptra, Aadesh Goyal)

Setting up first Dedicated Development Facility (DDF)

With one of the customers, HSS entered into a dedicated developmment facility, where Vineet was given responsibility to technically lead the project with a small team. It was into the field of telephony, PC-embedded cards. For this, he had visited customer for training and handover.

Trasitioning to Management

In 2000, he was promoted to Technical Manager role, which was point of inflection in his career - moving from technical core to managerial role. He only knew to work on whatever gets assigned with all the abilities. So there started, the journey of trying new things in management - leading people though initially mix of technology as well as planning and tracking, use of tools for project management (Microsoft Project, Excel, Macros, Configuration Management - Processes), participating in certification / assessment / audit activities. He became part of first CMMi- ATM assessment group in 2002. He remembers those days, working with people like “Sathya”, “Shiva” and KPMG consultant - “Kanan”. It was a great learning experience for him and starting to appreciate career as pure management personnel and picking up relevant lessons from wherever it came.

First Fixed Price project

HSS for the first time took up fixed price project as deviation from usual Time and Material projects coming from parent company (HNS). Vineet led one of the component of system, User Terminal Simulator, alongwith a Sr. Technical lead (Amit Kumar). Working besides engineer as well as responding to the managerial tasks like plan, reports, conf. calls was the new normal. It went for a year and 200 person months. His contributions were highly appreciated.

Getting into Products

This was another important transition that took place, when he moved to products, which was a center of creating stacks and services around it to internal and external customers. This was in the area of 3G. It was a different experience as compared to working in fixed cost, customer driven projects. Learning here was huge as one has to conceptualize reusable components, create offerings, work with Business Group, Product Quality Testing Group, Technical Writer Group and Platform / Integration teams. He successfully proved his abilities in coordinating, negotiating, proposals and grew in terms of responsibilities as well as role, over 4 years of his stay.

Rigour of Telecom OEM Customer

A big project, to develop 2.5G BTS product for OEM, was awarded to FSS (HSS was aquired in this time by flextronics, so named as FSS) in Risk and Reward (R&R) model. It was huge one. Vineet was picked up for management role as part of first 10 member team that was formed for handover. Core team was sent to UK for initial rampup. This project had exposed to new areas of very high quality grade product development processes in management as well as technology. Lot of new processes learnt as well as existing knowledge was integrated in the process. This included - requirements management, incremental releases, audits, technical and management reviews, quality reviews, milestone reviews - approvals - risk/rewards, field support, defect prediction and management, testing lab setup and master test plan detailing different phases - Unit, Component, Pair-Wise Integration, Functional, System, Acceptance, Software Build Test, Field Trial testing were the part of the overall software assembly line there.

During this period, he got opportunity to work with experts from UK, USA and Finland of NSN. He also visited Germany for technical discussions related to BTS roadmap after Nokia and Siemens merger.

This team grew to 250 people, when he left Aricent in 2007 - November to HSC.

Out of all the projects, this is the longest and the most memorable project journey with NSN (Nokia Siemens Networks).

Desire to take higher responsibilities

Hughes Systique (HSC) (Nov 2007 till Aug 2010)

At HSC, there were many old HSSians. It was led by Mr. Vinod Sood, who was managing director. It was founded in 2005 and had grew to 300 people by 2007. He joined there as a Director.

He executed few service projects including setting up once again a DDF (dedicated development facility) for NSN value added services, primarily focussed on presales and integration services. These projects were in the domain of WiMax, Packet Data applications, Billing Systems. He got opportunities to take up initiatives at organization level like driving innovation and learning through reuse / seminars and process improvements etc.

Organization Transformation Initiative

He gave his best, leaving aside management skills, to work for an year at organization in getting CMMi-ML3, ISO 9001-2008 with a clear objective to achieve excellence in project management processes. Certification, Assessment happened successfully with support of whole organization, however, this was not something he could pursue more than a year and decided to quit and pursue his dreams of an organization on his own.

Decision to quit JOB

After working for 16 years in corporate world, full of learning, competition and also to some extent politics, it was a moment of self-realisation. He felt, that if he works on his own outside these boundaries, probably can do more and help in bringing in much needed transformation to way of working in IT sector and specifically to serve Indian industry. Any industry, after these many years of work, can not justify working with higher cost structures and doing traditional way of service projects. One has to move up the value chain with lean mindset. One needs to experiment and get out of the comfort zone before being kicked out. While doing this, the core i.e. engineering team need to be kept motivated, loyal, empowered to take next big plunge.

He has seen this Industry going from the good old days of 1990s where employee was king, to late 2010s where employee and Indian software companies die to get work and work more like to the tunes of people who outsource. This space had got cluttered and innovations were taking back seat. Problems seem to be on both sides, engineers as well as leadership / eco-system.

This has been a time, as well, where Indian education also saw drastic decline or one may call it as an expansion, where several engineering colleges had come up with least quality checks on education. For the first time, educations was seen as a lucrative business. Somewhere, learning has given way to the daily sustenance. Hiring for talent has started being replaced with references culture. 5% top management layer grew to 15%. 8-10 years of maturity was replaced with 3-5 years for project managers job(and the trend continues till now in 2015, even more pronounced). He feels, it is need of the hour for corporates to re-invent themselves, create blue oceans. They create small cells of entrepreneurs, do profit sharing, create principles of doing business, promote innovation in every field that affects them. Go out and take a bold step to do several experiments. He belives, next Google will definitely come out of Indian soil. He feels, we do wrong by taking pride in what Indians do while they work abroad. It belongs to the countries who facilitate their efforts.

An often remarked statement - “Can Indians getting higher salaries, serve their own people?”. “If yes, will they get respect for their talent as they get from countries like USA, UK, Canda, Finland?”

When he exited HSC, not many business opportunities were available and he had poor network of friends, as he invested little in maintaining it. He had firmed up his mind to bootstrap his own work. An excellent support from family, specially wife (Priti Jain), is what matters at such junctures.

Embarking on entrepreneurial journey

da Kine Technologies (Aug 2007 till now)

Vineet and Anshul Bhatnagar started this organization. Out of several options to develop, they nailed down on creating education portal with audio-video support for remote tutoring. In just 2 months, they had the prototype ready, up and running on cloud. This got attention with few good companies through the friend circle. Unfortunately, the initiative fell apart for various reasons, major being the visibility of making revenues out of the product and funding.

Vineet continued with the company and started his MBA Course from October 2010, as he somewhere felt that getting formal knowledge of finance, marketing would have helped greatly in doing all of it. It was plan B, but eventually became primary goal from Jan-2011.

Consulting assignments

He picked up few consulting assignments with companies like TSCPL, VVDN. He built a product for a famous dietician to deliver services over internet through mobile App. Latter one was one big achievement in this entrepreneurial journey, specifically, as it was done almost single handedly and first big technical achievement after long management career. It was like home coming.

Studies and moving forward

Management Development Institute

Given the priority to MBA, which was becoming difficult with every passing month, without a good source of revenue, he made it through two years with patience and won Gold Medal as well (highest CGPA). It was a time to reflect - in Mar 2013. He decided to stay up with entrepreneurial journey. He started a garage setup - a part of his house dedicated to it. Hired 4 engineers over time.

During this period after MBA, he stayed put and created several things - ERP, CRM, Mobile Apps. Learnt several frameworks himself and architected these products.

New Technology Areas

He moved to new domain - Internet, where he learnt amongst several other things - PHP frameworks, AngularJS, NodeJS. Some of the artwork tools like Photoshop/Illustrator etc. He setup his own IT systems - configuration management tools, site setup on cloud, linux on machines, file sharing, JIRA etc.

Inhouse projects

He did several inhouse projects :

Customer Projects

Trainings

He offers summer training to students in the field of software, embedded.

Today, Vineet is often consulted for his experiences on starting a start-up, his technical knowledge in internet domain, embedded, managerial experience which is well supported with lessons learnt from MBA. His eagerness to learn more continues and more projects being added here as time passes by..

Today he is looking for Good Long Term Opportunities