IIT Delhi & IIM Ahmedabad Alum, Kamal Aggarwal Shares His Journey from Software Development to a Startup

Kamal Aggarwal (Entrepreneur (Co-Founder of SenSight Technologies)) - Software Industry

Insights

  1. Software/IT industry is now saturating. So, demand for good talent is increasing unlike in the past, when everybody was getting a good job.
  2. Time has come, when one needs to become an expert in one technology/domain. Therefore, I strongly advise against jumping from company to company in search of slightly better salary.
  3. Work-culture in IT is far more cooperative than in other industries. Similarly, team-players are rewarded more, because it is the team, which finally delivers the project.
  4. IT industry gives you a combined package of intellectually stimulating work, a healthy work environment and high financial gains for your efforts.
  5. The two most important qualities a good software developer should and typically do possess are good attention skills along with a sound logical, analytical and mathematical bent of mind.

Personal Profile

Name – Kamal Aggarwal

Profession – Entrepreneur (Co-Founder of SenSight Technologies)

Age – 43 years

Gender – Male

City – Bangalore

Industry – Software Development

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/kamalaggarwal75/

Where have you been born and raised?

I was born and raised in Delhi. My father worked in a bank and my mother was a homemaker. My elder sister is a teacher and my other sister is a Chartered Accountant.

Who had the most influence on you for choosing to become an entrepreneur?

No one, in particular, inspired me to choose my profession. It kind of got decided based on what I did in my engineering. I had an interest in this area and so that’s what I inspired me to do it.

Please give us a summary of your career and your journey to a startup.

After finishing B.Tech in Computer Science from IIT, Delhi, I started my career in a company called Cadence, a chip design company. I worked there as a software engineer for two years.

Then, I went for higher studies in management to IIM, Ahmedabad. Then, I started a company with a couple of my friends. It didn’t do too well and we had to shut it down after a year. After that, I joined a company in Bangalore called SoftJin as the head of Marketing and Strategy and spent 13 years at that company. Later, I joined a new company called Sasken where I worked for about a year in strategy before I decided to start my own company once again, which is where I’m currently working.

Which institutes are best for the education/training of software development?

The software industry itself has become so big that most well-reputed engineering colleges will cater to it. There are plenty of colleges from where you can do bachelors in computer science or software engineering and get employment in a good IT company. Of course there are degrees of gradation between the top and bottom tier colleges in terms of quality but generally speaking, there are hundred’s to choose from.

What are the typical entry-level jobs in the software industry?

For a novice, depending on the company’s area of focus, they will give you work related to either testing software or making small enhancements to the existing software. Chances are rare when you’ll start out by developing software unless working for a small company.

As you grow professionally, you start taking on more responsibilities, start designing software or architecting of software etc.

When you’re starting out you’re trained in certain languages and software relevant to that company for a few months after which you are deployed to a project.

What is the average salary of a software developer?

5 years’ experience — 50,000 to 80,000 INR per month

10 years’ experience — 1,00,000 to 1,50,000 INR per month

15 years’ experience — 1,50,000 to 2,00,000 INR per month

20+ years’ experience — 2,00,000+ INR per month

For someone with 20+ years of experience, things start to get very varied at that level and from that point on there is no typical range. Even at the 10-year mark, someone who is very good could get 30 lakhs per annum instead of 20 lakhs.

What is your role and responsibility as a CEO of a startup?

Since I’m responsible for managing the company, I don’t do much software development myself. My primary focus is managing my team and my customers. As a start-up CEO, I need to look at multiple dimensions on a day-to-day basis. One is to make sure we’re getting clients, another one is keeping track of our development. Then there are other Finance and HR related responsibilities like managing costs, the expenses of the company etc.

I work approximately 10 hours a day for 6 days a week, with Sundays off. I’m not required to do night-shifts.

What are the positives of working in the software industry?

  1. Our industry has become quite mature now in comparison to 15/20 years ago when it was blooming. But still looking at it from the perspective of doing intellectually stimulating work combined with good salary; this is one of the best industries out there.
  2. The software industry makes good use of your brain and gives you a handsome salary in return.
  3. You have ample opportunities for growth and to enhance your skillset.
  4. Even the work culture is not that competitive compared to say the retail industry or FMCG. This industry is more about what you have to offer to your clients and even within the company, a team player will be rewarded more than someone who goes solo.

What are some of the challenges that you would want someone to be aware of when considering a career in the software industry?

  1. Compared to where things were 10 years ago the current situation is considerably more challenging because now the bar has become higher and that’s because the industry simply doesn’t require that many people anymore.
  2. Since the number requirement had gone down the quality requirement has gone up. Previously companies used to take people through their internal training exams and getting them job-ready but now the companies don’t have the incentive to do that.
  3. With the high bar set, you need to constantly update your skills in order to survive in the industry.
  4. The work-life balance for most programmers is quite substandard. They are often required to work night-shifts which cause disturbances in their life.

What are the relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding a premium in the software industry?

This is one field, where you have to grapple with new technologies every few months. These days, Big Data and IoT are in the hype.

What kind of person would be happy in software industry?

IT profession is something where you need to have logical and analytical skills. A good software developer should have those to write a good code.

There is a strong correlation between someone who is a good software developer and those having good analytical, mathematical and logical skills.

Another important aspect of being a good software developer is having the ability to focus for a certain number of hours and possess a good amount of patience. If one has these skills, one can be a good programmer.

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

I can’t really see myself doing anything else, to be honest.

What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey in the software industry?

One problem with new recruits is that they fail to spend time with one company perfecting their skills. They jump so often that they fail to build expertise in one single area. From a long-term perspective, it’s going to be detrimental to their careers as the industry will always be looking for people who are actual experts in a given field. So my only advice for someone going into the software industry is that you should quickly figure out your specialization and then delve deeper into that domain.

You may also like to check out our conversation with Dr. Amrit Karmarkar (Director-InClinition)