Often we end up following the herd to such an extent that we lose our own focus of what we want to become, that’s when we make mistakes that are tough to correct. Especially when it comes to choosing money or learning it becomes difficult to choose jobs. Having explored all the sectors of the industry, govt, private and start-ups for 30+ years, the industry veteran Srinivas Moorthy, Srinivasa Moorthy, Founder & Director, Nimaya Robotics; Director Design Engineering, D4X Technologies Pvt Ltd; . shares his journey, his ups, and downs, advice and tips to excel to future engineers with Ankita KS from EFY group. A glimpse of his fascinating journey follows…
Q. Can you brief about your journey in the industry for 30+ years?
A. I started my career after my masters (M.Tech) in 1985 at Centre for Development Of Telematics as a hardware engineer. I still remember 90 per cent of staff were engineers fresh out of college. I remember when we asked about the feasibility of designing (the stiff target of 36 Months – 36 Crores we must build a 16,000-line Digital Telephone Exchange) with fresh engineers, the management answered it two points!
- You being Fresh don’t carry any baggage so you will learn the right things.
- The seniors who were part of our organization have all failed in building Digital Telephone Exchanges in their career and know what should be avoided.
I see that relevant today. If seniors can teach engineers to avoid costly mistakes, you learn quickly. As part of my career, I have seen the technology which we use to deal with changed rapidly in the three decades I have worked. When I started my career as a designer I have used “Bishop’s Blue & Red Tape” for designing PCB’s manually and today I use sophisticated CAD to do auto routing of PCBs. The same is true with components from led to surface mount. Above all, we never had highspeed design issues but today that is a big challenge in board design. Only constant learning and adapting to newer technologies helped me to survive in this industry.
I have designed products for all type of applications (from Medical Devices to Avionics systems) which enabled my skills to be broad-based. Globally usable products need to be meeting multiple standards and I have gone through the grind to design products for those needs.
My sincere advice to every (fresh) engineer is that your first job will decide what you will become. So choose jobs wisely. If you compromise your job for money then, your career is doomed. Most engineers don’t understand this they chose jobs for money, keep jumping jobs and never build vertical skill which makes them useless after 10 years!
Q. What are the key mistakes that you made that you think you should have avoided in hindsight? Any learnings?
A. The biggest mistake is the ability to communicate clearly and precisely. This is one area where I have learned the cost of making a mistake. Good communication needs lots of effort. I did my schooling in my mother tongue (Tamil) and to get a good command over English took a lot of time and effort. I see most engineers even today have issues. Key to success is that you have to build the skill of thinking in English and writing in English. Most of us think in our language and write in English which results in disasters!
Q: Over your 30+ years of experience, what are the key mistakes that you have seen made by the engineers while they choose jobs? How would you advice them to choose jobs better?
Actually, the mistakes are non-technical and can be corrected by practice. These are;
- Choosing money over learning and building skill early in the career.
- Bad or wrong communication both written and spoken and this especially stalls the career beyond engineer level. An essential skill for a manager is clear crisp communication
- Develop the ability to solve problems. Most designers don’t understand the environment in which their design works. They just focus on their portion which leads misunderstandings and rework leading to cost and time overrun.
Q. How do you motivate your team? What is your leadership style in terms of managing your people? Any mantras?
- I prefer to guide the engineers giving the freedom to design and implement their solution rather than dictating what they want to do. This help in they is feeling empowered and own the work they do! My job is to ensure no mistakes are committed and design is within the performance and price. This has helped me to build very good teams and mentor good engineers and managers.
- I spend a lot of time in teaching (something I have seen my peers in the industry think it is below their dignity) teaching has a two-way effect. Once you enhance your engineer and second you understand what you teach much better.
- One of the key things I do is to write White Papers on technologies which are emerging. This helped me to understand the technology better and acts a basic material for the designers in my organization as well as customers in updating their knowledge.
Q. Can you describe your current role? What are the things that excite you–about this role?
A. Currently, I am wearing three hats;
- I am the technology advisor for an Electric Mobility product company who are into the pioneering design of hybrid vehicles
- Mentoring a software company in the IoT area in their solution development
- I am an investor and director in a Start-up which is developing Robot Based solution for training children with Autism. This technology is based on 5 years of research and has shown remarkable results in developing the psychomotor skills of children with autism.
Interestingly all the three companies are started by young and energetic engineers in their 20’s and want them to succeed.
Q: How do you balance time between work and personal life?
A. Key is to have a good hobby in addition to your job which will ensure the right balance. I am a drummer and can play many percussion instruments. So, when I have free time or when I am stressed, I play the instruments. Meditation is another must along with a good exercise regimen. I have come across so many of my colleagues who have severe ailments because of a sedentary lifestyle and bad food habits. Unless they get their health in order life can be difficult. I ensure I get this in order. What I have seen stress brings many ailments so should know how to control the stress.
Q. Having started with the Govt sector, then private then exploring every corner of the industry, what are the learnings from each sector? and which do you prefer the most?
A. When I started my career in CDOT despite it being a Govt. Society it had a huge amount of empowerment and freedom to do what we want (I left when it became a typical Govt. Agency!)
Private Industries are more mercenary. You get paid for what you do and immaterial of whether you are in an India company or an MNC the dynamics of the company is always changing and politics is unavoidable. Unless you can manage these moving dynamics, you can face challenges. In any case, you can make good money only in the private industry.
As far as govt is concerned if you want to do something long lasting to the society govt. is the only way. I have personally experienced the power of what you can do in govt when you have the right support. Keeping yourself motivated in a Govt job is a challenge as the govt has lots of inertia and risk-averse. My personal experience if you are clean in your dealings you can make a mark but that can be a challenge as the ecosystem doesn’t let you do.
My advice to engineers would be to choose jobs entirely depends on personal needs and what he wants to achieve in life.
Q. For youngsters dreaming to fill in your shoes—what would be your advice to them? What aspects should they work on to reach here?
A. Actually, the key to excel entirely depends on what one wants to do; my focus has been being a good designer and gives it back to society when and where possible. For 33 years I have stayed in the hardware design because I knew as the days progressed this skill is going to be in short supply. A country flourishes only when its citizens have jobs and jobs are created only when there is manufacturing. Manufacturing can flourish only when the products are designed in the country. A good example is, look at the IT industry and an electronics manufacturing industry. While the IT Industry can only employ engineers manufacturing industry employs all kinds of skill. In a society which has more nonengineers and semiskilled people manufacturing is a must and that can happen only when things are designed and manufactured in India. Keep this in mind when work. Your work should be capable of employing 10-20 people you are making a big change.
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