March 23, 2007

The Office

The Work

I work in the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) unit of the mighty Consulting and Enterprise Solutions (CES) department. It is the pride and joy of Satyam Computer Services Ltd. Whenever a client, whether local or international, has some business requirement for Satyam to implement, a project team is formed to devise and deliver the finished product. Based on the stage of the development lifecycle the project team grows and shrinks. Some associates work on more than one project concurrently. Some do not work on any, much to their delight or chagrin. In Hyderabad, I received training on a PLM product known as Agile, while in Bangalore I was expected to first shadow the team to see how they work on a real project and then be gradually phased in to actually performing the development tasks myself. So far I have worked on one project for an aerospace company. I also attend team meetings and lunchs with astonishing regularity. As a highly motivated individual, the remaining time I have been increasing my knowledge base by studying the Indian business, cultural, and natural landscape, as well as improving my technical competencies in areas such as Java Server Pages (JSP) and Extensible Markup Language (XML).

The Environment

A clinical grey and white atmosphere with rows and rows of cubicles and diligent workers focused on completing the task assigned to them by their reporting manager (RM). Based on the client and technology that is the focal point of the work, the cubicles are further separated by dividers. Each of these cubicle clusters is then known lovingly as an Offshore Development Centre (ODC).

The Cast & Crew

A team of "freshers" or new recruits with 0-2 years of experience do most of software development, with more experienced experts offering advice and guidance when needed. Always busy, these meek young fellows rarely interact with me. A group of mid level associates are responsible for tasks such as writing proposals, design documents, and estimation. Busy only occasionally, these older gentlemen are friendlier towards me, taking great interest in my tales of travel and daily survival. The RM is primarily responsible for coordinating the efforts of the team and assigning work, as well as being a contact point for the client for whom Satyam is working on a project for. My RM is a fatherly figure who sees his task as not only involving managing the day to day activities of the team, but in nurturing the careers of the younger employees.
Security guards man each entrance point into the office complex, ensuring that unsavory characters are not able to enter or leave Satyam premises. Meanwhile a brigade of blue shirt wearing office boys perform their daily duties admirably. The elevator button pushers though are not nearly as impressive, and are often found sleeping on the job.

The Motivation

Almost universal is the desire to be sent overseas or "onsite", particularily to the United States of America, as this is seen as the ultimate career enhancing move. The motivation is primarily financial as being remunerated in dollars, pounds, or Euros provides a significant increase in the pay scale of the regular rupee collecting associate. Where previous generations who moved from India in search of greener pastures were quite likely to settle overseas, the new generation still visualizes themselves as going overseas to make a living, not a life. Almost all the youth I have spoken to say they will work overseas for a few years accumulating enough wealth to comfortably live in India for the rest of their days, and then return to the mother land.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery