In Kolkata: Who are the best?

Kolkata is a city full of talents. But it often turns out to be a real problem for someone trying to figure out the right talent from the crowd.

So, here I am, providing you a list of talented people whom I think are the best. In case you are looking for someone, then you can refer to this list:

  • Photography – Anirban Saha, is not just good but brilliant. If you want a professional to capture your precious moments or in need of photography tips then he is always there.
  • Bengal and its Socio-Economic Status – Agnivo Niogi, is someone who is completely in love with Bengal and understands the current socio-eco-political scenario of the state. He is usually very busy, but if you need any input about Bengal then he is the right pool of knowledge for you.
  • Retro Music – MJ Arvind, a passionate guy and I would say No. 1 in Bengal as far as Retro Music is concerned. Apart from music, you may even contact him for events or wedding sangeets
  • Bengali Recitation – Surmi Roy, although this is not her profession, but in case you are looking for someone who can recite Bengali poems then she is the right person.
  • IT Hardware Specialist – Hemant Chabria, he is the King in the market. He will give you real solutions in hardware space.
  • Linux Guru – Indranil Das Gupta, is man if you want to know A-Z of Linux J
  • Travel Guru – Prosun Kanti, has travelled a lot, and he can be your guide. You might find his travel tips really helpful.
  • Graphologist – Pradeep Banerjee, I visited his coaching center number of times and trust me he is an expert in this field of Graphology.
  • Chartered Accountant – Pijush Karmakar, helpful and trustworthy person. He will never misguide you.
  • Tax Consultant – Alok Patnia, his startup can give your end to end tax related solution
  • Bengal Tant Sarees – Kajal Chakraborty, can provide some of the finest tant sarees at very reasonable rates. Wanna learn multiple handicrafts from toy making to painting? She is the one you need to get in touch with. Do visit her page: https://www.facebook.com/tantbangla
  • Legal Support – Ramanuj Mukherjee, is very helpful at the times when you are looking for legal help. (Although he moves around the country, still you can connect with him virtually)
  • Event Management – Kaushik Dutta, has the bandwidth to provide end to end solutions within your budget.

Note: I have listed the above names based on the skill set and my personal experience. While dealing with them, if there are any financial misunderstanding, I am no way responsible 🙂

If you want to know more about them and are unable to connect with them, then shoot me an email.

You cannot rock with just 1 Skill-Set

Yes, you must be aware of this but still I am sharing this. It struck me again today!!

Look around and imagine why the following are not No 1:

  1. Pan Shop keeper vs. Best Pan Shop keeper in the town
  2. Carpenter vs. Best Carpenter whom you call every time
  3. Web Designer vs. Best Web Designer who designs stuff for you
  4. Shopkeeper vs. Most famous shopkeeper
  5. List can go on and on….

If you carefully analyze you will see the Pan Shop keeper vs. Best  Pan Shop keeper, the latter is the best not because of the quality of pan he is selling but because he is fast, interacts with his customers, understands his customer’s taste.

Similarly the best carpenter is someone not only because of his carpentry but is someone whom you call every time as he gives free consultancy on the way things needs to be shaped

The best web designer will be someone who not only designs (knows Photoshop etc.) but can work on taglines and content.

So next time you see someone and think “Oh!! This person is working so hard and still not able to become the best” – do not feel pity, always remember a person CANNOT ROCK with JUST 1 SKILL-SET

(Just apply this ideology in your day to day life and you will see how true it is … atleast I have felt it 🙂  )

Engineering Colleges should benefit the Students. (Probably More)

Trust me most of the Engineering Colleges are struggling to live up to the expectations of the students or to fill up the number of seats they offer. There are almost 3393 Engineering Colleges in India offering 14.86 Lakh seats. In West Bengal the total number of degree level Engineering & Technology colleges is 90 with an intake capacity of approximately 28751. Our IT-BPO Industry is taking 1, 60,000 – 2, 00000 students. Have you ever thought of what will happen to the rest of the engineers (students) passing out every year after spending lakhs of rupees?

It is high time the colleges understand that they play a crucial part towards the development of the society. In this post I will prescribe some suggestions to the colleges to reach to a win-win situation.

Branding: First and one of the most important steps to be taken by colleges is BRANDING. This does not mean advertising their own brands. Rather they should be branding their own college students.

The following activities can be followed:

a)      Showcasing the achievements of their students  in news pages like education times, online student communities, and social media

b)      Conduct symposiums on specific areas which are linked as per the industry needs

c)       Organize workshops, events and invite speakers from the industry ( not typical tech fests )

d)      Allowing students to participate in industry related events ( like NASSCOM IT Niketan )

e)      Opening the gate to IT SMEs and IT Start-ups to come as mentors  to students, allow then to work on live projects, and hire the interested students

Add-On Courses: The colleges must start “add-on courses” in the following areas:

a)      Open Source Technologies: PHP, Python, PERL, Ruby on Rails, Word Press

b)      Mark-up Languages: HTML5

c)       Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

d)      Javascript

e)      LAMP Architecture & WAMP Architecture

f)       Web Application Framework: CakePHP, Symfony, CodeIgniter, Yii Framework, and Zend Framework

g)      Search Engine Optimization

h)      Software Testing

( Note: Add Course structure can be edited/modified. These are just my thoughts)

Colleges should partner with individual companies working on specific areas for the skill development of students (IT SMEs and Startups can be easily approached with a proper value proposition).

Live projects: The engineering colleges should take an active part in organizing more than 1 live project for the students to work on.

Internships: The engineering colleges should inspire the students to start working as interns by the end of first year. They should be opting to work as interns in IT SMEs and Start-ups.

Lab work: The colleges should approach IT SMEs, collaborate with them and work on IT solutions in their laboratory.

I have been recommending this to the college promoters, principals, students & faculties. If one college follows it, others might follow suit. This mission will benefit the students hence the colleges and the industry at large.

Note: The figures are taken from sources like AICTE, Department of Higher Education. It may vary from time to time. 

Fate of Engineers

Recently I had faced many such questions… the answers are totally based on my observations.

Fate of Engineers

Q) Will our IT industry will need engineers?

YES, we will need engineers.

Q) How many engineers?

It depends as long as they are affordable and coming at low cost.

Q) Does our Industry only need engineers?

NO, As far as IT software sector is concerned it rightly said Industry will need only 20% engineers and it will go down.

Most of the software companies take engineers for the following reasons:

  1. It is a client requirement
  2. For H1-B visa purposes
  3. Billing for engineers are higher compared to non-engineers

90% of the engineers are utilized just as programmers (persons who can code) in software companies. And to learn programming skills one need not be an engineer. Institutes teaching programming languages like C, C++, Java, .net etc can easily substitute engineering colleges.

Software companies are looking for resources in the following fields:

  1. Software Testing – Not taught in engineering college
  2. Designing – Web Designing, Graphic Designing – not taught in engineering college
  3. SEO professionals – not taught in engineering college
  4. Specific Programming knowledge – Upcoming programming skills are not taught in engineering college
  5. Software architecture – just basics are taught in engineering colleges.
  6. Software analytics –not taught in engineering college

And the list can go on…

The trend which has already started is that BCAs and BSCs are getting into IT sector. They will be preferred over engineers because of low cost.

40% of the work force will come from institutes like NIIT who are teaching and enhancing mainly programming skills.

Remaining 60% will come from two areas a) Engineering colleges (20% – 30%) b) Normal Graduates – BCA, BSC (30% – 40%)

Note: Figures mentioned above are based on assumptions and mostly my prediction

 

 

As more institutes are offering courses on Software Testing, Analytics, Data warehousing, Web Designing etc, the percentage of intake of engineers will fall.

In no point of time there will be a situation when the IT-Software industry will not take engineers unless and until the other geographies from where the work is getting outsourced makes some.

Policy changes or work which is being outsourced does not require such qualification ( e.g. work related to animation, gaming, content, digital marketing etc does not require any an engineering degree)

Another trend which has already started and it will increase – Core Engineers like Mechanical, Civil etc will be hired by IT software companies since the companies are moving up the value chain. But again the percentage will not be HIGH.

Since our industry is mainly service oriented, soft skills will be very much important and vital both in IT and BPO sectors.

 So what immediate steps need to be taken?

1. Number of skilling institutes should start offering a) courses on programming in areas like PHP, Ruby, Python, PERL  b) web designing c) SEO d) Mobile Phone application development e) Testing

2. For Engineering colleges to survive, they must start partnering with such training institutes and offer such “add on” courses to the students

3.  IT SMEs should invest more on training and development and they should partner with such training institutes.

4.  Proper credit facility needs to be in place so that engineers who are not getting jobs can join such institutes and learn a particular skill set.

5.  There needs to be Policy changes – a) AICTE (or the board concerned) syllabus needs to be upgraded frequently which will help a lot of engineering colleges to survive and it will help the engineering students.

Secret behind Zoho’s success

I recently returned from NASSCOM Product Conclave. On the eve of day-1, November 9th, 2011 I had a 10 minutes interaction with Sridhar Vembu, Founder & CEO, ZOHO Corporation.  I greeted him at first as “Sir”. With a bright smile on his face he looked at my name tag and said, “Aninda, you can call me Sridhar”. “Sridhar, how do you source and retain talent?” was my next question to him.  He stood up and said “let’s walk down towards the main hall”. We stood up. He quickly kept his iPad inside the pouch and we started walking towards the main hall.  “Aninda,” he began, “I do not go by qualification. I recruit candidates who are usually school/college drop-outs, class10 /12 pass or physically challenged and then I train them up, give them more education under Zoho’s premise and they stay with me forever”.  I stared at him and quickly asked “But now Zoho is a brand, what will be your suggestion to the start-ups? How can they follow this model?” He replied “When I boot strapped this company I started with this model, and if I can do it, even others can”.  By now we had reached near the main hall. I escorted him inside, house full of delegates. I thanked him, exchanged a smile and left the place.

Why one say “No” to IT start-ups?

I have personally interviewed a lot of students and asked them why they do not want to join a start-up or SME. I have even asked many IT professionals why they always prefer joining IT MNCs and not SMEs/start-ups.

I will not elaborate much on this, but just in brief would want to share with you the reasons for someone not joining a start-up.

80% of the candidates feel start-ups (1-7 employees) are more interested in “Profit Maximization” rather than “Wealth Maximization”. Hence they feel in secured. Few of the candidates say that start-ups need to be professional (not casual). Some of them feel that start-ups are not “stable” in nature. There are even cases when candidates do not prefer joining a start-up because of peer pressure of the society.  So all these negativity spreads via word of mouth and goes viral, almost like a grapevine,  because of which a candidate does not dare to take the “risk” of joining start-ups (No, I am not blaming the candidate for not taking the risk).

Let me assume 80% start-ups are ambitious, they have a future plan, they are working ethically and are thriving hard to achieve something. But may be out them one player has caused a problem, ill treated a candidate or did something unethical, which in turn spoiled the brand name of the entire IT start-up community.  

Branding does not come by building a glossy website or having a presence in social media. Branding should be an “in-ward – out” approach.  Branding is an evolutionary process and fragile in nature.  So next time if you are not getting any resource to work for your start-up, do not blame the candidate. Let us accept our mistakes (if we have done any) and correct them, minimize the problems as much as possible and let us hold hands to build a strong IT start-up community.

For how long will your job stay?

I know this a scary question but let us face it for once. I have been doing an analytic study on this for a long time and telling it to many people from our IT sector. Better we understand this now or it will be too late.

I have already stated one very important point in my previous blog post that “IT professionals” constitute 85% of the IT community. (Not taking into consideration the entrepreneurs/business promoters for the time being). The majority of our daily work (technology services or business services) is done by these IT Professionals. The “work” is given to us (India) primarily because of low cost arbitrage. That does not denote work only comes to India because of fairly low cost. The skilled resources (IT professionals) are affordable that is the primary reason why work comes here. This is a true fact and let us accepts it.

For a company there are two kind of costs:

  • a) cost of resource
  • b) other costs – infrastructure cost, various kinds of taxes etc.

Cost of resource is the primarily cost factor (80%) and if it increases work may not come to India. And this alarming trend has already started. A time may come when you (IT professionals) have skill sets but no job is there in the market.

So what are the solutions?

My recommendations are divided into two parts:

a)      For the employees –

    1. A Fresher, who is new to the industry, must not worry about salary (as long as they are at par with the market). I keep hearing fresh graduates saying, they are not interested to join an SME because “they pay lesser”.
    2. Do not keep asking for a salary hike.
    3. Speak with your employer and do some extra work and earn money. I am not telling you to do freelancing (hidden manner) by stealing company clients. What I am suggesting you to do is, “go and teach few students, who need you as mentors”. I know some developers who are teaching students after work or during the week ends. They are earning well and have stopped asking for salary hike.
    4. A visible problem with the IT professionals – they keep changing jobs and hopping from one company to another. I have asked few of them the reason for this and they have told me “we change jobs because of career growth and for security”.  I ask them “how do you define career growth? Do you think salary hike is equivalent to career growth?” Most of the times I do not get any specific answers from them. And as far as security is concerned I tell them “No one is secured. A company is not God” and I even tell them “Your Company will not take away your job; you will lose it because of market forces”.

To the employees: Remember one thing, the more you change your jobs just for a rise in salary, the more you are increasing your “price”. A day might come when your job will be given to someone else in some other country even after you have the skill set.

  1. An important piece of advice for the students – higher education is not for everyone. I have seen many engineering graduates, who are unable to find work through campus recruitment, start applying for B-Schools. They simply do a blunder. I am not saying this because I have anything against management studies. Think of this situation, which is sadly a reality. An engineer spends almost 2-3 lakhs for his engineering course, then goes for management studies and there he spends another 4-5 lakhs. (Just imagine the state of the parents). So after passing out from a B-school 90% of the candidates are “qualified” but cannot be afforded by 80% of companies just because the candidate’s salary expectation is way higher now.

So my appeal to the students community – after passing out if you do not have a particular skill set then instead of doing some higher studies go for the following

  1. go to an institute and learn a particular skill set (PHP/SEO Content Writing/Ruby of Rails etc)
  2. go work in an SME or a start-up and learn the skills
  3. Find mentors from the IT Community who can help, teach and guide you.

b)      For the employers  –

  1. My appeal to the SMEs and start-ups is that do not expect that best students will join your company. Rather take normal students (with basic education) and train them up (increase your training & development costs). The more qualified candidates you take, your resource cost will go up. And from the very beginning “do not expect them to stay with you for lifelong.”
  2. The start-ups need to be more professional and organized so that students can join your company to learn. I have asked many students why they do not prefer to join a start-up (companies with less than 3 years into operation) and they reply “start-ups are not professionals”.
  3. Go to various districts and recruit students from those areas. ( Follow ZOHO’s model)
  4. My appeal to the companies who are into training business – keep the price of courses as low as possible ( without compromising on the quality) so that a student after completing his graduation can afford to pursue the course. (80% do not go for any course after graduation due to affordability issue).
  5. Another important point: Do not move to some other location just because the other location is more posh, they organize tech events etc. Think like a business man. Move to a place where your resource cost does not go up. Remember work comes to you as long you have a team (human resource) who can be afforded. Think smart, think inclusive.

There is a huge opportunity in the IT business. The total IT, global and domestic, addressable market by 2020 would be USD   1.5 – 1.6 trillion. The question (concern) is “can you (companies) tap this market”? Or “will your (IT professionals) jobs move to some other locations”?