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Survivor - Destiny's Engineer

Yeah, thats what I call myself today..hopefully even tomorrow.I never had thought life would be land of surprises. While in Grad. school things were just awesome. 3-4 job offers were the norm, you simply didn't sit for more interviews after that. Although if EMC invited you to Boston or Microsoft wanted you to visit Seattle, what the heck ! I think it was an excellent decision to graduate in Dec 2000. With a swayamvara of job and location, things were seemingly good. Yeah, thats what I had expected of America. So what if I had lost a thousand bucks in stocks....losses happen.

The Millenium started with a bang. My startup emailed me, while I was visting my parents that my bed of roses (read stock options) had been reduced to a bed of sunflowers. They gave a story...they usually do. I let my parents bask in the morning sun...they were proud that I had a awesome job. Life was just beginning. Another startup's offer was now tinklin my head (they really wanted me bad). At hind-sight, I am pleased I didn't let the tinkle jingle. I heard that the whole group for which I would have worked, got fired in Mar 2001. With the recession just beginning to seep in, some days in Jan. were really hard in India. A couple of hearsays of people being asked not to join did keep me awake sometimes. What the hell, I was still on OPT (pratical training) and so I could still legally be in US for 1 year. The U.Wisconsin label and Wisc friends helped me keep some cool. These days all cooling factors have disappeared.

Yes, I did start work and got paid well until the big bang. The first round took off 45% of my comapny, from 82 to 46. I survived...whew. As a bonus, they gave the survivors a 5% pay cut. It had just been 3 months since I had joined... Our company's CEO and board also decided that they were not meant to be together (i.e. our CEO was fired). My company is angel funded by a single VC, so the VC decided to put in some of his men to "turn around" the company. They did some good things, but then they treated us engineers like shit. We moved to a new building, saw a second round reducing strength to 32....Layoffs also saw the end of free dinners we had every night.

Here's when i realized the importance of two things...
1)Work in a company where your skills relate to a majority of their work. i.e. if u specialize in software, don't undermine your skills by working in a hardware company.
2) see what the company and give you in terms of improving your skill set.
My startup was primarily into software and since I worked for one of the "core" groups in my company, I guess I have been a survivor twice. Had I been in a less critical position, I would be in another company today.

My company began to get focussed, we got a new CEO (in place of the interim CEO from our VC). Engineering had a deadline for 2nd Jan. and yes, our Director of Engg. got fired for missing it. Our VP of Engg. had been fired in Oct. 2001 for differences with the management. So here's a company with some tech-leads and engineers, now technically headed by a Chief Architect. Our CTO and founder was a great woman, with an unbelievable energy to keep going inspite of insurmountable hurdles. They say, where there is a will, there is a way. The VC controlled management did it. Daily bloodsheds resulted in her quitting in Dec. Life is still beautiful. She exited the time when our new CEO and his band of followers arrived. I must say, inspite of their firing our Director, Engg., they seem to be doing some good stuff. Our product is being tested by Univ. of Hawaii as I write and we had successful testing with IBM last week.

As i look back, besides the core technology and people, everything else about the company seems different. People in the company smile at me when I tell them that this is my first job. All the excitement and adventure of layoffs, management changes, CTO resignation and other fun stuff just got bundled in one "great package". And the fun heightens when you know there's politics going on among the 20 odd engineers, your company has. Sure, even I bitch...can't help it, thats what we did in IT.

What do u say...maybe I should have joined Cisco, the stocks, the bonuses and of course the salary...life would have been so much simpler. And then I probably could have shunned Mazda...don't ask...don't ask..:)

Life goes on and the sun rises and sun sets. "Summer" is around the corner.

Big B