Could you tell us a little about your company?
We call it TechPassion. It was started towards the end of 2005. We have developed a product called VMAP and sell it to automotive and aerospace industry. It is a design software. We currently sell to 40 companies in 10 countries and the market for it is growing. We also provide training and consulting for open source software called Scilab (an alternative to MATLAB). Essentially, we are a company that builds tools for these industries. It is still small and we have a long way to go. We also do some Mechatronics consulting.
Initially, I had set it up as a company that would do mechatronics work end-to-end. We would not only design but also build machines. We did challenging work, first of its kind in India, but then it was not sustainable. So after about three years, I decided to focus only on the design aspect of mechatronics.
A lot of students take up non-core jobs today. What is causing the change and what is your take on it?
I consider it a purely personal preference. It is true that the pie (of career choices) is very different now. But it has more to do with today’s economy than with the students themselves. At the end of the day, IIT produces good problem solvers and it would be good if this place created an inspiring setting so that people experimented with engineering before they decide on a particular career. But, one thing, consulting and finance can be done 3 or 4 years later too. In fact, I know PhDs in science and engineering who have gone into investment banking!
At some point in time, we realize that we need to have a long term perspective and a fundamental aspect in choosing a career path is individuality. When I meet up with my friends and acquaintances today, I can see that the happiest ones are the ones who choose jobs true to their calling. They might be in the crowd but they are the ones who are passionate about what they are doing. The major problem with top institutes like ours is that most people end up choosing careers based on two things: Am I doing something which is considered the most difficult? Two, comparison with peer group. If we could cut out the noise from these two factors, we would make better career decisions.
Could you talk about your experience at Inter IIT?
I went twice, in my third year when it happened in Madras and in the fourth year, at Kanpur. I was in athletics and running was my religion. I used to run 400, 800, 1500 and 5000m and 4×400 relay. We had a very strong and dedicated team and some of us would be in the stadium every evening practicing.
In Madras, we got the overall championship and I had won some medals too. I remember we had a very good water polo team back then too. Travelling to Kanpur was fun and so was the training camp back at the institute. Being into sports is a great experience as you meet new people outside the hostel and classroom and learn a lot from them.
Is there some advice you would like to give our readers?
Well, I would like to share certain pointers that I think will hold good at all times. First, have goals beyond money. It is, of course important and is a measure of success. But that is not all there is to life. Two, aiming high is very important. Having goals which seem nearly impossible should be on everybody’s list, especially IITians. So, don’t compromise on setting goals. And three, ethics. Being ethical and having your own set of rules and personal values is important for you to not get lost in this place.