Achyut Godbole - The Unstoppable Engineer
He's been there done that - and he's not stopped. From a small town in India to being the CEO of top IT companies to hosting music shows on television to authoring books on operating systems, management and economics to winning several awards - he's unstoppable. We are honored to have Mr. Achyut Godbole on CE. Check out our Small Talk with Mr. Achyut Godbole -
CE: Sir, from a small town in Maharashtra (India) to being a well known name in Indian IT & authoring books on various topics, how is your journey in the hindsight.
Mr. Godbole: It’s been exciting journey so far. I spent my childhood in Solapur, a small town in Maharashtra. I was good at mathematics & sciences. I scored 100% marks in nearly all mathematics & statistics exams from 1st standard to Engineering in IIT. I stood 16<sup>th</sup> in SSC exam and topped the university. In those days, university toppers would get a direct admition into IIT. But I was unaware of that. Therefore, I appeared for the examination and scored a good rank in the entrance examination. I graduated as a chemical engineer from IIT Mumbai in 1972. Being an IITan, there were plenty of job offers. I, however, decided to work for the aadivasis in Dhule. I spent a little less than a year fighting for their rights. I was even imprisoned for 10 days for a ‘Satyagraha’ that I was involved in.
I decided to shift to Mumbai and started applying for jobs. My first job was with a small workshop near Rayroad railway station on harbor line. My role was of a supervisor and the job earned me a ‘hefty’ sum of Rs. 125 per month! I worked there for about four months before calling it quits.
One fine day, I noticed an ad in the newspaper by Tata Mills for the job of a ‘programmer’. I however didn’t know what ‘programmer’ meant. One of my friends explained it to me and I applied for the job. I did well in the interview and got the job. At Tata Mills, I didn’t fare well as a programmer – and my boss advised me to quit the job and do something else.
I was now presented with a new challenge – learning computers. I accepted the challenge and over the time did very well. In the process, I decided to make the learning easier for others and authored 3 large books with 600-800 pages. : ‘Operating Systems’, ‘Data Communications and Networking’, and ‘Web Technologies’. They are used as text books all over the world and have been translated in languages such as Chinese. All of them have run into several editions and have received very good response from the readers.
Then I contributed to buildingof about 5 companies including Patni, Syntel and L & T Infotech which grew manyfolds in terms of employee strength and turnover during my tenure. Currently I’m the managing director at Softexcel Consultancy Services, Mumbai.
CE: We would like to know about your professional achievements.
Mr. Godbole: I’ve been involved in software industry for over 30 years now. I was awarded twice by IBM World Trade Corporation for performance excellence. I was instrumental in designing an ERP package in the UK, and implementing it in many companies in Holland, UK and Germany.
I have also contributed to building companies such as Patni (GM) from the strength of 20 to 1000, Syntel (Managing Director) from 30 to 1000, L&T InfoTech (CEO) from 400 to 2000, Apar Technologies (CEO) from 20 to 600 and Disha Technologies (Executive Director) from the strength of 200 to 450.
I was awarded “Distinguished Alumnus” by IIT in 2000 for my contribution to Information Technology & education. I received “Udyogratna”by Indian Economic Council for my contribution to Information Technology Industry. For excellent performance of my companies in software exports, I have been awarded by the prime minister twice.
CE: We would like to know about your hobbies & interests.
Mr. Godbole: I am passionate about Music, Economics, Fundamental Science, Management and Literature apart from Information Technology. I do not call them hobbies as they are not a ‘time pass’ activities for me, but, they are a very integral part of my life. I was awarded “Kumar Gandharva Award” by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi for contribution to music & technology. I currently have over 4000 books in my personal library and 2000 CDs/cassettes with music from 18 countries.
CE: Do you regret that Indian IT has not been successful in producing software products?
Mr. Godbole: I do regret & feel sorry about it except for couple of software products in banking. I believe to a greater extent, it’s because of the nature of the industry. It started with body shopping – an engineer would be sent on site on Friday so that he can start work from Monday and the flow of dollars would follow. The risk was only limited to the airfare.
It was a simple coding, testing and maintenance work which involved very little risk and the profits were huge.
CE: What changes do you suggest in Indian education system to turn engineers into ‘creators’?
Mr. Godbole: I believe entrepreneurial, risk taking abilities should be inculcated in students. Teachers and parents should show support to wannabe entrepreneurs instead of telling them that they’ll fail.
CE: What would be your advice to engineers who are clueless about their own career and expectations from professional & personal life?
Mr. Godbole: My advice would be to build your career around something you are passionate about. That’s how I built my own career. Instead of looking for what’s the latest trend, go deep into subjects of your own interest. Marks in exams are not important. Never choose a career because it has ‘scope’ or it is in demand. Always try to excel in whatever you do and you are passionate about-whether it is Engineering, Pure Sciences or Music or Literature.
CE: You are actively involved in social work. You run a school for Autistic children. Tell us about it.
Mr. Godbole: We run Ashiana - a school for Autistic children with about 40 autistic children at Andheri (Mumbai) since Sept.1999 along with Ravi and Suhas Malde. We plan to expand this school to strength of at least 100 and start many such schools in all the districts of Maharashtra.
CE: What is your message to CEans aka Crazy Engineers?
Mr. Godbole: Think about the problems people face and try to solve them. I’d be happy if engineers can work out a way to use solar and wind energy more effectively and cheaply. I’d be happier to see engineers working for healthcare, Education, rural infrastructure, e-Governance etc. to make life better for the poor people or build better, cheaper and durable houses for them.
Discuss this interview on CE :- Small Talk with Achyut Godbole
CrazyEngineers is thankful to Mr. Godbole for taking out time from his busy schedule for Small Talk with CE. More about Mr. Godbole can be found at www.achyutgodbole.com
For all the new CEans, do read this interview. 👍
Amazing and multifaceted person indeed! One of the very few writers in Marathi who can write on topics including science, technology, economics, animal kingdom, psychology, management, medicine, mathematics (the list is longer) with ease. He always impresses me with his skills to explain a difficult concept in a simple and easy to understand way. His articles in the daily Loksatta included examples from his own experience and current happenings in the world and he used them intelligently to prove his point!
Good job @Kaustubh Katdare 😀
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Thanks to CE,could enjoy talking (indirectly)to Shri.Achut Godbole(in real life once l heard him personally in Mumbai and once had telephonic talk with him).(With very high respect for him),I can say I really enjoyed, enjoying and will enjoy reading books from Really Crazy Engineer,Thanks Sir.
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