When one moves to the USA as an IT engineer; there is obviously a culture shock, food habit adjustments, and household work. But, moving here is beneficial in terms of better income and living standard — says Subash Chaganty, Chief Technologist at ZAG Information Technology and Services, New Jersey

Subash Chanty, Chief Technology Guy at ZAG Information Technology and Services, New Jersey

Insights:

  1. In India, IITs, NITs and few reputed Universities offer the best technical education. However, large institutions with rich academia and those that encourage practical learning with experimentation are best suited. It is also important to have MS/M.Tech. Degrees to have specializations.
  2. The work environment is better in the USA than in India. In general, the work environment is anyways better in IT than in other professions as each individual completely indulges in their respective work. This work is more like self-learning and self-correcting.
  3. The work hours are not quite flexible. Sometimes you have to work at odd hours because of the stiff competition from other reputed IT companies.
  4. People with commendable problem solving and analytical skills find it easier going up the ladder.

Profile Details

Name – Subash Chaganty

Profession – Chief Technologist at ZAG Information Technology and Services, New Jersey

Age – 47

Gender – Male

City – Princeton, New Jersey

Industry – Information Technology, Software

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/schaganty/

Where have you been born and raised?

I was born and raised in Visakhapatnam, and some parts of North India. I went to Visakha Valley School, where I received a strong foundation for analytical thinking. My upbringing has been done from a middle-class family. I have two younger brothers. My father was a Sales Manager with a PSU who had climbed up the corporate ladder to retire as a General Manager and my mother was a homemaker. My grandparents raised me to avoid constant movement because of my father’s transferable job.

Who all had the most influence on you and why?

My grandmother had a great influence on me while I was a kid. Her practical approach to solving small and big issues, her communication skills and disciplined lifestyle have, to a certain extent, shaped my character. Apart from her, people such as JRD Ratan Tata and Salman Haider have influenced my thought process at times. Characteristically, it was difficult to imagine another person being a role model for me.

Please give us a summary of your career.

I started my career in 1993 as a Trainee Engineer at Pioneer Technology Ltd. at Visakhapatnam. Later, I worked as Asst. Manager in Sagarsoft (India) Limited, Hyderabad from 1997 to 2002. Thereafter, I moved to New Delhi and worked for HCL America Inc. as Sr. Consultant till 2006.

I moved to the USA as a Practice Lead to work for Xtensegrity, a Premier Consulting Group located in New Jersey till 2010. Then I got promoted to Practice Director — Information Management and served in the same company till 2017. At present, I am with ZAG Information Technology and Services, Hamilton, New Jersey as Chief Technologist.

Which institutes are best for the education/training of this profession?

In India, the best technical education is offered obviously by IITs, NITs and any reputed deemed Universities. However, large institutions with rich academia and those that encourage practical learning with experimentation are best suited. It is also important to have MS/ M.Tech. degrees to have specializations. A graduation from any reputed foreign university opens Indian students to practical thinking and problem-solving skills, which, unfortunately, is lacking in our education system.

What are the costs associated with the education/training of technology profession?

A good ranking in qualifying exams like JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) will enable one to get admission into the premier institutes where the fee structure is from 1,20,000 to 1,50,000 INR per annum. BITS (Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences) and other premium institutes also charge more or less the same amount. State level universities and reputed Autonomous engineering institutes also charge between 90,000–1,00,000 per annum. It is also strongly desirable for all aspirants to have certifications in the latest software programs which would cost INR 6,000–10,000.

How does one enter this profession?

In order to get an entry into this profession, the person must have the basic idea of programming languages like C, C++, JAVA etc.

Programmer, Software Engineer, Business Analyst, QA Analyst, System Analyst are the common titles and designations associated with the entry to early job titles in computer sciences.

What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career and industry?

The typical salaries are in the order of 60,000–200,000 USD/annum. These numbers are associated with an average career. It further depends a lot on location within USA and domain of work. For example, a programmer working with a Hedge Fund or an Investment Bank, writing their algorithms will attract many folds this pay.

5 years of experience — 80,000–120,000 USD per annum

10 years of experience — 100,000–150,000 USD per annum

15 years of experience — 150,000–200,000 USD per annum

20+ years of experience — 180,000–250,000 USD per annum

Please describe your work.

My job includes creating pilots and roadmaps for large, scalable technology implementation in the areas of Legacy Decommissioning and Test Data Management.

I am a consultant in ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and HR (Human Resource) Technology space with an emphasis on PeopleSoft and NetSuite software. My roles have been mostly in the implementation and management of the business and back office enabling technology.

Being the head of technology in my organization requires me to perform several routine activities.

Review of current projects, creating project proposals, presenting to clients, participate in technology-related events, looking out for opportunities to innovate,

And I represent my organization at industry events and user groups meetups.

What are some of the positives which would encourage someone to consider this career/job?

  1. It’s a rewarding, enriching and fulfilling field for a career. The entry barriers are often low and inexpensive.
  2. The work environment is comparatively better when compared to other professions as each and every individual completely indulge in their respective work it is more like self-learning and self-correcting.
  3. New technology and its learning democratize itself quickly, and a significant amount of open sourcing and knowledge sharing occurs by default.
  4. The pay for skilled technicians is quite high.

What are some of the challenges that you would want someone to be aware of when considering this career/job?

  1. This field of work is not for people who want to stop learning or would like to perform a routine, mundane or non-thinking job. Hype cycles exist in this field more than any other, so the adjustment often needs to be quick in terms of ability to learn and unlearn. Updating yourself is of utmost importance.
  2. Unlike in any other profession, complacency is your biggest enemy because no technology has ever proved to be permanent or commercially and economically fail proof.
  3. The work hours are not quite flexible. Sometimes you have to work at odd hours because of the stiff competition from other reputed IT companies.

What is your advice to the young engineers who aspire to work in the USA?

Those young talents, who aspire to settle as a software engineer in the USA must be aware of the weather conditions and must be prepared accordingly.

In contrast to India, USA generally has a colder climate with heavy snowfall in the winter season. So, it is really necessary to make a change in the food habits and living style.

Maids are very expensive. Hence, you should to do daily household chores. But the daily schedule is more systematic and organized in comparison to that in India. So, it would not be really difficult to get going here.

Those who come to the US to pursue their MS Program, generally get tuned to the working conditions easily.

But those who come directly to work here may face a little culture shock and also feel homesick if they placed in those states where Indian diaspora is less.

On the whole, the career development and monetary benefits are very high, and one can enjoy better living standards.

What are the relevant skills/trends/technologies that are currently commanding a premium in your job profile?

From a technology perspective, Cognitive Computing, Big Data Analytics, Machine Learning and Block Chain technology are some of the fields that are currently attracting a premium. The catch is that there has to be logical and natural progression into these technologies and not an abrupt shift.

Another key attribute is common sense. We have a saying in the industry that common sense is the most uncommon attribute. Critical thinking is one of the primary skills required to be a successful technologist along with the willingness to be a lifelong learner.

What kind of person would be happy in your career?

People who are eager to meet challenges as well as for people who would like a routine in their work sphere. Both are important, although for obvious reasons the flashier ones get more instant recognition. People with commendable problem solving and analytical skills find it easier to climb the ladder.

Given another choice what you would do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned?

I would join a large organization at the beginning of the career if a choice was available. Smaller organizations lead you to believe that you can shape your career in your own way by being in better control, but you will miss the resources available in a typical large organization. Counter-intuitively, large organizations while being famously bureaucratic can also be vast reservoirs of opportunity.

I would have also loved to write fiction and a little bit of poetry.

What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to you?

I would say ‘be prepared for lifelong learning’. Your common sense is your premium quality. There is constant change every five years in this industry. One has to accumulate a lot of technical knowledge before treading on the people management path.

Contributing Writer — Vivek Daddala

You may also like to check our conversation with Mr. Amit Gupta (CTO at Delta) here.