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Know Your CEan - Er. Prasad Ajinkya
CE has been gifted with exceptional contributors. CEan - Prasad Ajinkya (aka Kidakaka) is one of them. CEan - Kidakaka chatted with CEan - The Big K, check it out...
The Big K: Hi Prasad, tell us, is there anything special about your id on CrazyEngineers (kidakaka)?
Prasad: Heh, its one of those things that comes to you in a flash of brilliance (the term is used loosely here!). When registering for a Yahoo! id, I wanted to have one which denotes an image of a prankster, the handle got so popular in my engineering and my b-school, that it stuck. So much so that, some of my professors have also referred to me by kida on occasions!!
The Big K: You are a Computer Science engineer. What fascinated you the most about Computer Science engineering?
Prasad: What motivated me towards computers is the creative potential of using machines. Take a game for instance … the first one I saw was Prince on a colour monitor. The concept of controlling that tiny prince, jumping all over the dungeon was just too awesome for me to handle. For that small period of your life, you are the game … you are the prince.
It’s also the ability to mimic life in all its sensibilities.
OK, I admit that I am a lazy person (although circumstances do not give me enough opportunities to prove my merit in this faculty). The first time I wrote a program, back then in GWBASIC, it was easy to understand that given clear, logical steps to a machine, it can outstrip a human by miles. Then why should the human spend unnecessary hours in menial tasks, if he can simply tell exact instructions to a machine to do a task precisely. The fact that almost every real life problem which can be solved rationally (highlighting the word rational to stress that relationship problems, world peace problems, politics, etc are not falling in the realm of rational here) can be replicated in the machine world, and a better solution be sought for. Not only can it be replicated, it can be made more efficient, saving us time and effort.
The Big K: From Engineering to MBA: tell us about your journey.
Prasad: Graduating right bang in the middle of the dotcom bust was a boon in disguise. There was a dearth of jobs in IT companies, with the biggies lashing out pink slips and retracting offers from young students eager to start working. I got placed on campus with a firm which specialized in content delivery (financial content) over the web. They also did some web development jobs and also had a few forays into e-Governance. Work in a rising company like IRIS, gave me a good platform to learn web technologies, and also the experience to understand the nuances in the variety of flavours available to the web developer (ASP, PHP, JSP, et al). The work was good, and the pay was on par (although I see these days, the freshers are getting approximately double of what our starting salary was … sad to see them complaining still).
My only pain point was that the company had a developed this rather bad reputation of never delivering on time. Yes, once in a blue moon a project will be delivered on time, but most of the times, scope changes, design reviews, et al would keep the project going on after the promised timelines. And the programmers were not the ones to blame, the project managers (PM) always took the brunt of the blame. I always thought that weird, considering the fact that programmers did the bulk of the work. It had to be considering that the entire business was about technology, was it not?
As a part of the firm, I hated the fact that my project could not finish on time, the year-and-a-half I was there, I have worked umpteen night-outs to ensure that my projects finished within the given deadline. I always wanted this to happen, soon I learned that the problem may not be in the application development itself … but rather in the planning of the same. Hence, the brunt comes upon PM. Or it could be that the proposed solution is just too technically complicated, hence the blame would fall on the BD person. So essentially, the fate of the project is never decided by the programmer, but its always decided by these MBA fellows!!
Once the mind was made up for giving the CAT, the execution part was pretty straight forward (or at least so I thought!!). I joined the closest IMS centre for their test series, their first free counseling session helped me benchmark myself against the rest of the students. Although, I was starting a bit late (I had 2 months to prepare), I still had a chance. I discussed the idea of giving the CAT with my family, and it became apparent that if I were to work 14-16 hour days in the office, it would become increasingly difficult to study for the CAT. It was my mother, who told me to give the CAT in one single go putting my full effort behind it. Clearly, I had to resign from my current job. Cutting away that backup line was one of the most difficult decisions I have taken … I haven’t regretted it, even now my mother takes credit for my CAT . I concur.
The year of the leaked CAT, was a difficult time for me. It meant sitting at home for 5-6 months, job hunting would be futile, since I had every intention of doing an MBA, come hell or high water. When the results of CAT were announced, I was relieved to get a high percentile, but the warped scores that I had gotten (Eng:99.96%, Math:97.8%, DI: 79.2%), ensured two calls (C and I). JMET was easier, had gotten all six calls, but after getting a shot at the IIMs, I dropped the idea for going to the other IITs excepting Mumbai.
The additional GD and PI sessions taken by IMS helped of course wherein, b-school students would come and guide us regarding how to crack GDs and tips for PI.
Some of the interview experiences (and learnings) were –
IIMC - Never heckle the interviewer regarding any issue. The leaked CAT was my bane.
IIMI – Never say I do not know. Rather do a rationalization and give an approximate answer. The interview was supposed to be a stress interview with the professor asking me all kinds of questions on the state from which I herald from (Maharashtra). Some questions were like no. of highways, no. of ports, no. of seats in Rajya Sabha, contribution to GDP, length of the coastline, etc.
IITB – Never argue with the interviewer. I ended up arguing with him, on whether Java is a pure OOP or not.
The Big K: Do you think post graduation is necessary? What would be your suggestion/advice to engineering students who are unsure about going for post graduation courses(MBA/MS/M.Tech)?
Prasad: A simple thumb rule would be to consider MBA if you are more concerned about the business implication of the technology you are studying instead of the technology itself.
Many people think that due to the sheer number of graduates in the market, it is a necessity to get a post graduation. But a sincere advice to engineering students would be to think twice before deciding upon a MBA/MS/M. Tech, especially the ones who do it without any prior work-experience.
The Big K: At IIM-I, you were a part of team that developed the famous puzzle ‘kleuLESS’. Tell us more about it.
Prasad: Well, the klueLess puzzle concept started off when me and my friend (Amit) were doing our summers. Since both of us were in the IT Committee of the institute, we had to be in constant touch regarding machine procurement for our juniors. During that time, we came across a puzzle called as notpr0n. The KL application took “inspiration” from this , and we thought that we might give it a shot. Post summers, we discussed this with another classmate (Udatta), who gave the idea of launching this during IRIS (our b-school festival which coincidentally matches the name of the first company I worked in). Since, time was little, it meant about a month of night-outs for development of this game before it could be launched.
The coming month saw us napping in afternoons and blinking through classes just so that we could complete the games. Levels were thought up of during sessions, it was as if the KL fever had caught onto the three of us. To do the graphics work, we got the help of another friend (Sanchit), and the KL team was completed.
When it was finally launched, we were asked to add more levels by people who completed the first set of 22 levels. We reached 3 million hits in the first 6 months of launch itself. Now, KlueLess is a regular feature of IRIS, check out Klueless3, developed by my super-juniors.
The Big K: Tell us about your current job.
Prasad:Currently, I head the technology division of a retailing firm, eYantra. What we do is, launch dedicated online brandstores for different firms. Each brandstore has eCommerce facilities (integrated payment gateway, automated mailers, order tracking, et al). I handle the entire technology part of this outfit, starting from server procurement, server configuration to hiring programmers, designing new features to testing the entire application, et al.
The Big K: What are your pastime activities?
Prasad: Computer games, bridge, books, music, blogs (reading and writing), movies and just plain lounging around and chatting with friends … simply called, bakar.
The Big K: You’ve been an active member of CrazyEngineers community. How does it feel being associated with CE?
Prasad: Having the CE community is a great idea, a congregation of smart minds there for sharing information with each other. You get to see a lot of cool ideas and people who are willing to put in those extra hours just for fun.
Being part of such a community, where you can actively take part in discussions and change things (if required) feels as if you are part of a large circle of friends.