Navam Gupta has an enriching experience of more than 7 years in the industry. Besides working in the industry as an engineering manager, he has also co-founded WedHaven, a wedding management app. Amidst the pandemic, Rishika Agarwal and Navam Gupta, next-gen couple-preneurs and technophiles, introduced this app that aims to make weddings fun by simplifying the tasks at hand, be it for the hosts, wedding planner or the guests. Originally hailing from India, both of them pursued their education in computer science and completed their Masters from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Before WedHaven’s creation, they worked in the heart of Silicon Valley as engineers with an ed-tech startup (for 5+ years).
It isn’t wrong to say India is the world’s engineering powerhouse, churning out more than 15 lakh engineers (of all domains) every year. We have a surplus of engineering talent. While that looks great on paper, in reality, it means unlimited competition for the people in this industry (both new and veteran) and an always ongoing pressure to prove themselves and their worth to the company.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t successful engineers, and neither does it mean that anyone starting now cannot be successful. There are quite a few approaches for people to shine in the crowds and reach greater heights.
Here are some pointers:
General Communication skills: This is very critical – if you do not have crisp and clear communication, you will not be able to progress. Whether you are coming in for an interview or asking for a promotion in your existing organization or talking to clients, how you communicate matters a lot! It is highly recommended that you dedicate time to practice and improve communication skills, like how you would focus on technical skill development. Some easy ways to improve include:
- Reading books: It almost seems cliche but reading books (non-technical) is a fun way to improve your thought process. As a result, it improves your verbal and written communication skills.
- Speaking in English: Make it a daily habit to speak to people in English. This boosts your confidence.
- Attending conferences and seminars: To seek variety, the events not necessarily have to be of this niche. Observe the speakers and attendees present there. You learn and understand their oration skills as the audiences vary.
Presentation & Public speaking: This is an evolution of your communication skills. Doing presentations or giving talks inside (and outside) your organization is a great way to get noticed and stand out. It also helps build recognition and increases your credibility. However, this is also a double-edged sword. If you lack in the communication department or the content is incomplete or unable to answer the questions from the audience, it leaves the listeners with a diminished impression of you. So what can you do to have a great talk?
- Start small: If you are stage conscious, no need to do an engineering org-wide talk. Start within your team, and as you feel more confident, keep increasing the audience size. Also, don’t just be content with doing things within your team; aim higher.
- Practice hard: Always take time and run through the presentation/talk multiple times. Never “wing it”.
- Collect feedback early: Share it with your mentors and some peers and get early feedback. It really helps.
- Interactive sessions: Communication is a two-way street. The same applies here. It’s important that you gauge audience feedback. As you speak, you must welcome questions from your audience. While you do that, you can’t always answer everything or know all the answers at that moment. Here, you can always feel free to respond with any of the following: “Interesting question”, “Valid point” or “Let me get back to you on that.”
- Smile: Everyone likes a pleasing personality. This makes you more approachable and also reduces your anxiety.
Be smart: Contrary to popular belief, being a “Yes Man/Woman” is not always the right thing to do. If you take up something and are unable to deliver on it, that will definitely hurt your overall standing in the organization. Instead, you should:
- Be practical: Analyze can you really deliver it? And what’s your confidence level for the same.
- Set realistic expectations: Don’t just agree to do something. There should be an analytical breakdown at your end. Spell out the potential blockers, timeline and figure out if help is required.
- Be proactive: Keep all the stakeholders updated with the good and the bad news. What’s worse than a delayed project? A delayed project that everyone finds out about in the last week. Hence, provide timely updates.
Be vocal with solutions: You should be vocal about problems that you or the team is facing, but don’t just go to your bosses with a list of problems, as they have another zillion tasks to manage. Instead, go with some solutions to discuss as well. This way, you are not perceived as someone who just complains, but as a “problem solver” who is respected and appreciated.
Be logical, polite and a team player: No matter how brilliant you are, if you do not work well with your team, you are of no value to the organization. There will be times when things don’t work out the way you had planned. The way you deal with that is:
- Always work under the assumption that everyone is working towards the betterment of the company, and nothing is personal. It will help you control your emotions and have a conversation based on facts.
- Once something has been decided upon as a team, follow through and focus on implementation. In case you do not agree, instead of being an obstacle, discuss with the team your concerns. It’s always better to disagree and not disrespect.
- Support is mutual ground. Hence, to desire your team’s support, you must also support your coworkers.
Don‘t be lazy: Not to be misunderstood as “work all day all night long”. Don’t get complacent or follow a monotonous routine. There will be opportunities that present themselves throughout your career, jump and deliver on them. Your company will always appreciate, remember and reward the same.
These are just a few of the starting points of how you can begin getting recognition for all your efforts. Keep working smart and focusing on the right opportunities that come your way. Also, feel free to reach out if you have any more questions!