Alumni Pen

In Conversation With Mr. Vishnu Sharma

Mr. Vishnu Sharma is an alumnus and the Gold Medalist of M.Tech. Batch of 2006. He is currently working at Google USA. He talks about his life and career with Maheswara Chennuru Reddy, DD batch of 2018 and Monosij Ghosh, B.Tech. batch of 2019 and shares his experience of the journey to Google.

Let's start with the old times, sir. You must miss ISM a lot. How has life been since you graduated?

Well, I really miss my ISM days. When we were in ISM, we were in the learning phase. But when we came out to the corporate world; we were burdened with responsibilities, which can be tiresome at times. I really miss the Ramdhani chai. You know, it’s not much fun once you get out. [laughs]

Is there something you wish you had done differently at ISM ?

In college, we are only able to see the small picture, like scoring good marks, and getting an A+ etc. But now, looking from this perspective I think that I should have done more computer application based projects. I personally believe that ISM can do much better than other engineering colleges as we have technical as well as earth science branches together. You know that natural resources are declining, and we need superior technologies in this perspective. So a CSE student can team up with an earth science guy and come up with something really innovative. If you ask me, I would go back and do just that. ISM can definitely contribute a lot in this sphere.

How is Google different according to you? And how is the US software industry different than that of India?

Google is a very different company which trusts its employees a lot. You get access to all the databases and code from the joining date. Everyone is encouraged to express their views; and the company makes sure that it pays attention to those ideas. The workplace is also well balanced where you can work on your ideas individually without a chain of approvals.

Indian IT industry is largely service driven. Hence very limited or no proper opportunities are provided for fresh graduates in India to come up with their ideas and build a product on their own. The huge gap that existed is diminishing as the current startups are focusing more on product based services than acting as mere service providers, and also trusting new talent. At the same time, giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook etc are also growing in India. Today, India has no less impact and opportunities than the USA or any other country.

Sir, how did the education you received at ISM help you? Did you find anything lacking?

ISM really helped me build my foundation and helped a lot in my career. But unfortunately, when I was in ISM, the CSE department was in its early days. Our professors helped us a lot but we did not receive much practical exposure as labs were limited and there was a lack of resources. We did not receive any exposure to the industry as most seminars were held for other earth science departments. But one time, at one such seminar, I got a chance to interact with the IT commissioner of Dhanbad who offered me a job of developing a software for them. I worked with a few B.Tech. students and we received 10000 rupees for that. So you can see, it’s kind of bi-directional. We cannot always blame the department. Sometimes we ourselves have to put in an extra effort and explore the various opportunities. It will be beneficial for the juniors if they can build on the work done by their seniors, and it is of prime importance that such a culture is incorporated.

As an alumnus, how do you wish to contribute to the development of the college?

I agree that as alumni, we are not doing enough for the department. I am not ashamed to accept that. [laughs]

But we can definitely do a lot. Like, the students are not much aware of the life as a Computer Science engineer after college. So we can organize some sessions with them where we tell them about our experiences and the challenges we faced. Hopefully, they will get motivated by the success stories and aspire towards doing something great.

Apart from that, we can also contribute to the department in the form of funds and better equipment or study material.

The most important thing we can do is to guide them to the various career paths that they can venture into. Also, we can tell them about the different fields of technology where they can apply their innovative ideas and do something unique and valuable.

What pushed you to come into the software industry?

Well, my story is peculiar; it’s kind of planned by God for me. All my childhood I dreamed of joining the Indian Army and made my career plans focused on that- I tried for NDA and CDS. Later, I decided on CSE upon learning that the Army needs lot of computer engineers and eventually did my post graduation in it. I came to know about Google after joining IBM; and everything changed when I joined Google. I was introduced to the huge world of complex software engineering problems and was intrigued by it and continued in this field. Now I am doing the work that I enjoy the most. I was planning to fight at the front-lines of war, while God planned even better and pushed me into fight with lines of code[laughs].

How did M.Tech. from ISM help in the corporate world?

Well, you know the prejudices that exist in our society.We tend to judge a student even before meeting him. Like IITians are considered far superior to any other student. So M.Tech. from ISM helped me break those barriers.

Also, ISM gives you a platform to reach out to the global players. Our college is really visible in the corporate world and thus your resume can get shortlisted easily compared to other colleges. And once your CV is shortlisted, the ball is in your court.

Like in my case, IBM demanded a minimum of 60% marks throughout the academic records. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that but it didn’t matter as my ISM M.Tech. degree weighed much more. So ISM really helped me break these barriers and stigmas.

Apart from that, during my time we had visiting faculties from IIT Kharagpur. They were really great teachers and changed my perspective on the subject. They helped me strengthen my fundamentals which helped a lot in my career.

*IIT (ISM) Dhanbad was then called ISM Dhanbad.