Team Uthaan had a chance to interview Mr. Akash Kumar, currently the Chief Operating Officer at Instahyre and has previously held important positions at Quikr and Jaro education. He is also an alumni of our institute.
How was your life after college? How did you move ahead after you passed out?
Life after college was really a roller coaster ride. I was from the 2011 batch of IPG-MBA and I learned a lot of things from the college as we conducted many activities and events. When I was here at the college, I was the president of the SAC (Student Activity Council) and before that the general secretary of SAC. So I used to conduct a lot of events, directly working with Anurag sir and the then director of the college. So that helped me a lot and led me to a lot of success when I went out there and started proactively working with the corporate. It comes down to not only the curriculum that you go through but also the culture that the institute provides which gives you the correct nurturing environment to really be ready for the corporate world.
This was my journey, it’s been 7 years and today I am the COO of a company Instahyre. It’s a hiring platform like Naukri or LinkedIn where you can find job opportunities from even google or amazon. All in all, it has been a really fruitful journey so far.
What changes did you observe in the institute and this generation of students?
The talent we saw on the stage today was fabulous and absolutely mind-blowing. I don’t think we were this talented during our time.
As for the institute, the infrastructure has obviously improved. It’s more or less the same as I saw it 7–10 years back, but a lot of additions have been done. And of course, with the mix of talent that I am seeing, I am really expecting the brand of this IIIT to go up in the coming future.
How much did the curriculum prepare you for your role as COO?
Not much. One thing I’ll say to you guys, and this is what I believed in when I took MBA rather than MTech. At that time, we had a choice at the 4th year to choose whether to go for MTech or MBA. I was a developer, I developed the Infotsav website that year. So, I was good at coding as well but I deliberately chose MBA because that was my passion. So to answer your question, the curriculum, be it MBA, MTech, or BTech will teach you the syllabus designed by the authorities and what the teachers are teaching. But the main things that you have to learn are life skills and industry skills, for which you will have to step out of the curriculum.
The curriculum may be of 20% help and that’s fine, but 80% will be your initiative and your passion for your course.
Now your streams are already chosen and from day 1 you know what you are doing. That’s a good start and a good initiative that the director sir has taken to give you this liberty. Because now you are focused on what you are doing. At that time my seniors were trying to persuade me. They said, “you are already a developer, why are you doing MBA?”. So I was in a dilemma at the 4th year but I listened to my heart and said I should go for my passion. I would not be doing this just for the next 2 years of my course. I would be doing this for the entire 50 years of my career. So, I should love what I do and it should not be just for money. So, this initial understanding of what you are going to do and what steps you have to take to cultivate these different skill sets that the industry demands are out of curriculum knowledge. That’s why I said the curriculum did not help too much.
What’s the work culture at your organization or in big corporates generally?
The culture is really nice. We ourselves have to take the initiatives to cultivate a culture that is good for the company. Even in my previous companies, the culture was always nice. It’s a thriving culture where passionate people and people who want to achieve something will go well. The corporate world is a meritocracy system. It is not about creating a grade by cheating or by any other means. There you will be put to the correct measures and you get the correct value for whatever you do. So I would say the corporate culture is more cutthroat in merits and is always inclusive of the cultural values of people. That is the current scenario of the industry. Gone are those days of the nineties when it was a kind of an assembly line. The IT world has completely revolutionized the culture of every company.
Even in the last 3 years, remote work has scaled the freedom we have in our job and that’s the kind of culture most companies are following right now.
Where would you prefer to work? In a startup or an MNC?
I would prefer startups. There are many challenges in startups, and those challenges are just mouth-watering. If you are looking to solve problems, you want that setup. You don’t want to be a part of a very big system and be a random nut of a particular ship. You would rather want to be the engine of some small boat. So, I would definitely prefer a startup. I have preferred that from the start. In fact, I have moved from an enterprise to a startup and then we have scaled from a startup to a midsize company. Hence my answer would always be a startup.
What about the cons that are associated with choosing these startups?
Yes, there are cons. You must choose what kind of startup you are joining. That’s very important.
You have to know the fundamentals of these startups. What is the product they have built? What stage are they in? What is the vision of the founder hiring you? Is the company’s product already profitable? These are the things you have to be careful about.
If you misplace these things and just go for the money, it can become a con. In the beginning, they have the money and they will hire you for very good bucks, and then the next thing you know, after a couple of quarters or so, the winter of funding comes-which is going on right now. In such a case, it will become a very big con. So, you shouldn’t go for money. Startups will provide you with more money than MNCS if you are the competent and talented person they are looking for, but the cons are that you can easily get fired. There are no proper set processes like the ones bigger MNCs follow to relieve you. In startups, if you get busted, you are out of the job and that’s the con of a startup.
How to achieve endurance in a career like software engineering where the tech is evolving every day?
That’s a good question. If you are going into IT or development, you cannot just sit back with the knowledge you have already acquired. You have to keep learning new things and keep evolving. Even the guys who are there for 10 years are learning new things, otherwise, they will become obsolete because there is a lot of technology that has now become obsolete. It’s a part and parcel of the high-paying premium jobs you are trying to do. So obviously your endurance will be required, and more than endurance, your initiative and your pro-activeness in trying to learn anything and everything about the technology and the new things which are coming. Be it full-stack development or mobile or android development, they all have different technologies and frameworks with which you have to keep up to date.
I see every day lots of friends, colleagues, batchmates, juniors, and even my family members who are developers at different companies. They have to keep learning and that is not just endurance, that is a part of your job if you are in IT.
Any advice to your past self you wish you could give?
I’d want to give myself a pat on the back. There are always places where you could criticize yourself for your bad decisions, but it is important to pat yourself and say “hey, you did good things as well”.
I always used to encourage myself to be proactive but I always fell short in some places. So, I would want to advise myself to understand and learn more technologies and keep brushing up on them. I picked this up very late. If I would have been able to do this a couple of years earlier, it would have been much better. Just learn what is needed to be learned, figure out your passion and don’t be in the comfort zone at all for whatever you are doing.
Yes the tag might help you for sure but one need to work hard with utmost dedication and excel in whatever you do and he/she will be getting fruitful results at some point in their career.