The rain splashed on the green grass outside prompting the sky to restyle its canopy from clear blue to shades of gray. Dark days these maybe for the industry in general - sagging spirits, pink slips and low morale etc. The exuberance inside Building No. 21 was in total contrast to the weather outside as we talked to Project Leader Ajay Sood and his upbeat team, personifying the spirit of the institution they worked for - Infosys.
Ajay, Vasudevan, Hemendra and Madhavi, form the SONA (acronym for "South Of North America") Project team at Infy. Significantly, all are from non-IT backgrounds. Ajay, an Electrical Engineer from IIT, Delhi and an MBA worked for 3 years with Unit Trust of India (UTI) as an investment analyst in Bombay. "At that time I was tired of life in Bombay and was looking for a break," explains Ajay on the "push-pull" factors that led him to move to Bangalore. He responded to an Infosys ad and got the job.
Vasudevan, with an electronics background had his initial work experience in a steel processing industry. By then IT was beckoning and held out promises of becoming the sunrise industry. Vasu took the plunge, joined a small outfit as a hardware engineer, one year and a written test later he was in Infosys with the MIS division. "I knew nothing of Software, but I had this gut feeling I could do it," says Vasudevan, who is the "Tech Lead" anchoring the project under Ajay.
Hemendra Singh Gautam graduated as a Chemical Engineer in September 2000 from Gwalior, took up a job as an engineer trainee with Oswal Industries in Orissa. "It wasn't interesting at all," says Hemendru rather emphatically. Like trigger-happy gunslingers have this constant finger-itch, Hemendra was fidgety. IT was on his mind. The first opportunity that came along he grabbed it and hit the road for Infosys.
Madhavi hails from Pune where Infosys was actually founded way back in the 80s. After completing her engineering, she took to teaching and to supplement her interest in programming, attended part-time computer courses. The bright spark in her was aglow four months ago when she landed a job at Infosys and assigned to Ajay's team.
Ajay explains how project teams are formed and how he gets to lead. "Partly experience and partly because I started out talking to the client on this project." He's managed projects earlier, taken the bottom line on deliveries and understands the client's needs having spent months getting briefed "on site". Team selection starts from the application design onwards and the request is for a preferred skill-set. "The software industry is such that it can absorb anybody with good analytical skills. Technical skills can always be learnt. But overall, the experience has been that people here learn very fast," exults Ajay at the complementing skill-sets he has on hand.
With screaming deadlines gonging away through the corridors of Infosys City the pressure does set in. So, how do they go about tackling these situations? Pat comes the reply from Vasudevan "Miss out on family life because as delivery schedules get closer we have to increase our effort levels." Unlike 9-to-5 jobs, here the angle of bending backwards is part of the "architecture". Also, money doesn't come easy as Ajay adds, "One has to survive."
Meeting this foursome was an interesting revelation. In some of them, there's just a touch of fear what with all the layoffs being talked about. Otherwise, this is a vibrant bunch, eager to achieve, gel together, seemingly make more money than others in their age group and despite the slow-down mode of the economy, they hold their chins high.
As we moved outside to take pictures of the team, the sky showed signs of clearing and the brightness had returned. A good sign, perhaps!