In the year 2000, Netflix approached video rental megastore Blockbuster with an offer to be acquired for $50 million. Blockbuster refused the offer. 10 years later, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy and in 2018, Netflix is valued at over $140 billion.
As quoted by HBR, 52% of fortune 500 companies since 2000, have either gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist. A new breed of companies, which are driven by technology, innovation and most importantly digital transformation, have disrupted them. There is a clear trend. Companies, which will continuously reinvent itself and adapt to the changing market needs will grow otherwise they will perish.
Its executives and professionals run the company. They also need to continuously reinvent and equip themselves with the knowledge and skills, which are aligned with digital transformation needs. I truly believe, best investment one can make, is investing in growing their knowledge and skills, which can make a profound impact in the business as well as society.
I have been fortunate enough to get opportunities for continuous transformation.
Even though I was born and spent my childhood in a remote part of India where getting access to quality education was a dream, my parents invested sincerely in my education. My passion for learning and growing, kept me motivated in the journey, which started from my village to Silicon Valley, passing through many important learning and growth milestones. After completing my engineering, I started my professional career as a process engineer in a display manufacturing company, but I found my growing interest in software and computer science, which motivated me to reinvent myself as a software engineer within a year.
I have been working in the software industry since last 15 years in various technical roles, mostly on the product and platform development. I have continuously learned new languages, tools, frameworks, processes, technologies and design patterns to keep myself updated with changing market needs. I also took many initiatives to apply my newly acquired skills to make an impact on the business. This tremendously helped me in my career growth and earning the trust and respect of my colleagues in the industry. I am currently in the technical leadership position, where I play a crucial role in the digital transformation of the company. My organization has entrusted me to represent them in many industry conferences, forums, and customer discussions.
With data explosion and advancement in big data and cloud technologies, a new business model has evolved. Companies like Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Amazon, Salesforce has proved that data-driven decisions using AI, speed, and scale of delivery using the cloud, are key to build a successful enterprise. I was listening to Marc Andreessen; from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, in Spark conference. He mentioned that earlier startups that came for funding were sprinkling AI and cloud as supplementary points in their pitch. Today, if AI and cloud are, not core to their architecture, he will not even consider them. My organization is no different and we are also on a journey to transform our company into a cloud and data-driven company. As principal architect, I lead many of these initiatives. So far most of my learning process in these field has been through work experience, POCs, MOOC courses, books, and online materials. I was able to quickly ramp up myself on cloud and distributed computing technologies. I was able to even build products using them. However, I quickly realized that my learning in the data science area needs a different and more structured approach. This topic is huge and so far, I have just scratched the surface through traditional methods. I felt the need to go back to school and study the fundamentals of data science through a much more structured and disciplined program, which will set the foundation for my success in this area. I am lucky to find ‘Master of Computer Science in Data Science (MCS-DS)” program form University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign. This provides me with the full flexibility of learning based on my schedule. At the same time, I will get many opportunities to interact with faculties, TAs, and students from the world’s one of the best computer science department. MCS-DS course structure is very well suited for my specific needs to focus on three important areas related to Data Mining, Machine Learning, and Cloud Computing. This degree and acquired skills will significantly help me in shaping my career as, well-rounded technologist, technology leader and my ability to contribute and lead my company’s initiative to become a data-driven intelligent enterprise. This will also open avenues for me to pursue my career in the field of data science, where I can help the team build AI-based products or work with data scientists to productize their research and models. This also opens up a tremendous opportunity for me, to try experimenting new ideas quickly within an organization or through start-ups.
My 15 years of experience in designing and developing enterprise grade software products and platforms has equipped me with all the fundamental concepts and foundations to succeed in this program. I have studied data structure, algorithms, object-oriented concepts and advanced mathematics courses in my engineering course. But most importantly, I have extensively practiced them during my professional career. I have consistently learned new skills and I consider myself a quick learner and dedicated individual who is committed to succeeding in the program, as these traits have helped me succeed in my career so far. I will also bring my extensive industry and leadership experience, especially on architecture, designs, cloud and distributed computing and in the analytics area, which can benefit other students in the program. At the same time, I am also eager to learn many new skills from experiences, other students bring to the program.
I am very excited to apply for the MCS-DS program. If admitted, this will help reinvent me again through new skills and expedite my learning journey.