Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why I left Google

When someone asks why I left Google, I usually give many different answers because there is no one big reason. When I first started my job search for leaving Google, I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was very unhappy and frustrated by the way my then manager ran his team and managed the people. There was rampant favourism and too much politics. I had lost trust in all things Google. I just wanted to get away from that environment. Then I thought of all the wonderful years I had on different teams and decided to switch teams to give it another try. I managed to move to a team that met all my expectations of exciting work and great team environment. 

Something was still amiss though. There were still moments of frustration that made me feel I am not entirely happy. On positive side I could talk about that with my managers now, on negative side I felt despite their best efforts and intentions I was not seeing a satisfactory growth plan ahead for me. My previous job search had also set lot of wheels in motion both in my mind and on linkedin. So when a perfect opportunity knocked my door (CTO at a local startup), I could not resist. I started playing with the idea of leaving for real. 

Engineer at heart I made spreadsheets of pros and cons, best case scenarios and worst case scenarios. I could not really answer the question – why should I leave the best company and a great team. But I realized that question was not “if I should leave Google”, but “am I willing to let this opportunity go”. I was ready to move from an engineering driven job description to strategy driven job description, and it was becoming clear to me no matter how successful I am at my non-eng leadership tasks, I will not be fairly rewarded at Google. The new position provided exciting new challenges and opportunities. So I jumped in, it felt good, uncomfortably exciting. 

Looking back, I am very happy that I decided to give Google another chance by switching teams within the company. I left at a very positive note, knowing that I was willing to tradeoff security of Google for risk of startup even if the best case scenario at Google materialized in future. My decision was driven less by anger and emotion and more by rational thinking. I don’t have a one sentence answer for why I left, but lets say I had outgrown the engineering driven job profile Google had to offer and wanted to put my time and energy into leadership that I did not believe would be rewarded at Google. 

I think Google is still an awesome company to work for. The only criticism I have is the company repeatedly fails to develop and reward the people who are willing and capable to grow into good leaders. Instead it often throws great engineers who are unwilling or unable to switch to leadership mode into managerial positions. It often reminds me of the time when Sachin Tendulkar was made captain of Indian cricket team. A seemingly logical choice, but disastrous for the team.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Installing kafka / zookeeper

Its almost a month since I left Google and joined the startup, and its been 30 days of new challenges every day, some I handled beautifully and others strugglingly. Today after a very very long time I got to work with actual linux machine. I had to install Zookeeper and Kafka on 3 AWS EC2 machines. Of course these being well known apache projects had instructions everywhere. But when was the last time open source project instructions worked flawlessly! It was great to finally get the system working, hack away into the /etc/hosts files, try different things.
On to next challenge tomorrow - convert the 3 single-node machines into a single cluster.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

This s*** just got real!

If you are into weird hollywood movies, you know what that expression means, and sometimes some expressions no matter how fowl just express a situation well. So this is what happened. I left Google 2 weeks back and joined a startup in Zurich. The decision, last few weeks and then joining new company just passed by with express train speed. I always knew this is where I was headed, like I knew form 6th standard that I will be working at Microsoft in US (ok that did not exactly happen, but Google was close enough), but when where how - I did not know.

When the opportunity to join startup came, right in Zurich all stars seemed to align. I don't have to move, I was in perfect position to try something new - and I took the leap of faith. As Peeyush Ranjan said in his linked in post - Google is like a university, you learn learn learn, but at some point you want to take that learning and do something else with it.

So why it just got real -

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ironman Zurich

Yesterday was my 3rd time volunteering as course marshal for Ironman Zurich. This gets more and more inspiring every time. Especially the part towards the end where you see real heroes emerge, people who finish in 12+ hrs, who are really pushing their limits, are going through mind-and-body struggle and winning. They are the real winners of Ironman. This year I met a couple of people who had come all the way from India for this. I cannot imagine training for an event like this in the heat and pollution of an Indian city, and after that coming to a cold climate like Zurich to run. There was a Japanese guy who walked most of the marathon with a cramped leg. Every time he passed us, he had a goal to make it to finish line by 10:30pm, and I was sure he is going to make it. That is true will winning over body. There was also the usual stream of 50+ years old who can put all of us who are half their age to shame. Many of the athletes you can see were running in a trance, not caring about form or time, but just putting one foot in front of other to reach the finish line. There were of course few graceful exits who had done all they good and decided to give up, and few broken hearts who did not want to give up but were just not going to make it in time. Every year I see this, my resolve to try something like this becomes stronger, right now I am to the point where I want to try the olympic distance which is ~1/3rd of the full Ironman distance, though not with Ironman brand because I clearly have an issue with their brand name :)

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

South America trip

It was my dream to do a 3-month trip to South America. Somehow over the years I covered most of what I wanted to in 3 different trips :) So not sure if that dream is fulfilled or it was about 3-month long trip! Here is what I ended up doing -

Peru: April 2006

This was very early, we had just started hiking / backpacking, no concept of trip yet!
Flew to Lima, and then to Cusco.

  • Stayed there 2 days, saw local site, should have stayed a bit longer to acclimatize.
  • Did the Inca trail - 4 day trek
  • Spend a day in Lima - had trouble finding vegetarian food.

Ecuador: July - August 2010

With some more travel experience under our belt. This trip happened due to a conference.
12 days

  • Started in Quito, spend one day walking around.
  • Took local bus to a place called Chucchilan to do a somewhat famous circuit. Loved our little hostel.
  • Did some day hikes there, hiked to Lake Quilotoa at 14000ft. Loved the place.
  • Public transport back to Latacunga and then off to climb Cotopaxi. It was a bad time to climb and we were hit by worst snow storm of the season.
  • Then off to a small town called Mindo at start of cloud forest. Stayed at Hotel Ruby or something, little old house with MANY dogs, but loved it!
  • Spent some chilled days there - Rappelling down a waterfall, Ziplining, seeing butterfly century and just walking around. Very relaxing.

Chile - Bolivia: December 2013

This was a consolation 1 month trip instead of 3
  • Started in Santiago, spent a day and then flew to Punta Arenas, then over to Puerto Natales by bus
  • Stayed at Erratic Rock, awesome hostel before start of W circuit in Torres del Paine
  • 5 day 5 night backpacking there, cut short 1 day due to weather.
  • Came back to Puerto Natales and stayed extra day at Erratic Rock as it was just so cool!
  • Over to Punto Arenas. Stayed at some hostel.
  • Took a 1-day trip to Isla Magallenes to see Penguins. Awesome, turned out to be great day. Also saw dolphins on the way.
  • Then off to Santiago, stayed couple of days there, walking tour, cooking in hostel, chilling, making further plans. Skipped rest of Chile to go to Bolivia which sounded more lovely.
  • Flew to La Paz.
  • Spent couple of days there.
  • Did a day hike to Condorini mountain for acclimatization with a local guide we found walking around in La Paz. Guide was great.
  • Change of plans here, to avoid any Christmas complications, went to Uyni first instead of Copacabana with local bus to do salt flats tour. Going to lake would have been better for acclimatization.
  • Booked the tour at Uyni, turned out to be quite good, did not need to book ahead.
  • Stayed at rufugio near Licancabur at end of tour to climb the mountain.
  • Climbed the mountain (with a terrible guide)
  • Driven back to Uyni.
  • Took bus back to La Paz.
  • Spend few other chilled days here - loved La Paz
  • Bus to Copacabana / Lake Titicaca.
  • Loved the lake, spend couple of days here just chilling, doing nothing, eating good food.
  • Back to La Paz, flight to Santiago, and then return.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I heart swiss immigration system

Let me post this before things start going wrong!
For now, I love the way swiss immigration system is working, its almost a shock (good one) after dealing with US system for 9 years.
Day 1: My work permit is expiring in 10 days, I want to renew it.
Response: Don't worry, it will come automatically.
(OK, though that was wrong!)

Day 8: Panic! It has not arrived, work permit expires tomorrow!
Response: Just bring this form and passport tomorrow and we will apply.
Me: Still in panic! But permit expires in 2 days.
Response: (no response, she did not understand its an issue)

Day 9: Go to office to apply for extension. Number of documents required: 1, Time required: 15min, cost: 204CHF. Time to get extension: 2 - 3 weeks.
Me: Still in panic! But the current card expires tomorrow, what can I do.
Response: Its fine, the new card will arrive in mail in 2 - 3 weeks.
Me: Oh! I need to to travel in 2 weeks.
Response: Its fine, its in the system.
Me: But I need proof.
Response: Ok (if you insist), wait for 2 weeks, go to immigration office on last day and get a temporary visa.

Me: Totally unsatisfied with the answer, still in paniced mode, but reluctantly left. It was shocking to me how they were not at all worried by the fact that my work permit so to say expires tomorrow and I am still living and working in the country. They just said sit back and wait for the new one to come in snail mail. So if I am not travelling it does not matter.