In an exclusive interview with Dataquest, Puneet Kumar, Chief Technology Officer, Dyninno India, shares insights on IT resilience, career transition and development for mid-career techies, and the tech products his team is proud of developing. A seasoned technology professional, he has been building engineering teams from the ground up for over two decades. In his current role, Puneet manages a diverse team that is spread across continents. Excerpts:
DQ: Can you please provide a brief overview of Dyninno and its core tech expertise?
Puneet Kumar: Dyninno is a group of companies that provides products and services in the travel, finance, entertainment, and technology sectors in 50+ countries.We develop and implement innovations and technology in our products. Thanks to that, casting professionals quickly find true talent, travelers get the best ticket prices for flights from over 70+ airlines in a fraction of a second, and clients have access to loan products and financial instruments in just one click from anywhere in the world.
Travel tech is the biggest presence of technology within Dyninno. We develop for the consumer brands of ASAP Tickets, OOJO, Skylux Travel, Dreamport and others. We use Open Source Web technologies to develop solutions and host them on AWS. We have around 300 tech specialists across our offices in India, Latvia, and Dubai.
Our tech team works on multiple tech stacks with the aim of delivering products using the latest code. We are always seeking to develop newer and more innovative approaches to solve complex business problems.
DQ: You manage a tech team that is spread across continents. What are the main cross-cultural differences you've encountered? How did you overcome them?
Puneet Kumar: People across different geographies have varied contexts and lives, which shape their values and approach towards life and work. The workplace is the second home for professionals across geographies. I’ve realized that certain cultures are more straightforward than others, and as leaders, our first rule is to eliminate the “one size fits all” approach.
It’s important to invest time and energy in understanding the culture and sensibilities. The role of a manager and their perception are also different across geographies. It needs to be understood deeper to efficiently run a cross-cultural team.
DQ: Can we talk about a permeating, global tech culture? What should it involve, and how can companies and leaders nurture it?
Puneet Kumar: The global tech culture at this point is focusing on “autonomy” or “independence”. As work from home has taken employees away from a fixed workplace, the workforce needs to shift their mindset.
While communication and independence were always appreciated in a candidate, companies need to make this one of the critical hiring criteria in a candidate. The leaders need to encourage, appreciate and reward this quality in their employees.
DQ: What are some of the tech products at Dyninno that you are particularly proud of?
Puneet Kumar: There are multiple products that our tech team has developed, but our OTA Oojo.com, which serves almost a million requests a day, would be one of our proud accomplishments.
Another product is our online platform called Dreamport, which helps people acquire new skills for free so that they can become an independent travel manager. Dreamport specializes in providing business opportunities to people all around the world by connecting them with their customers and the airline industry.
With many locations all around the globe (Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa), and more than 2,900 travel agents connected to the platform, Dreamport is yet another prized possession for us.
DQ: Can you share an example of how your team successfully integrated a new technology or trend?
Puneet Kumar: Sometime last year, we started seeing bottlenecks with NodeJS. While it’s a performant technology for scaling IO-based applications, it didn’t fare well for process-based applications. We turned to Go which gave us quite a differential in performance where we needed to do parallel processing to save time.
As one would understand, it’s not a simple switch for us, considering almost 18 years of continuous development, we started to identify pieces of functionality that would be a good fit. We have since then rewritten part of applications through microservices approach and integrated them with our applications pool to achieve better performance. While it is a work in progress, I’d say it was a successful example of integrating a new technology seamlessly.
DQ: It is evident 2024 will be the year of an unprecedented AI wave. That includes more readily available cyber attacks for bad actors. How can organizations remain vigilant and make sure their systems are up and running?
Puneet Kumar: It is essential for businesses to make IT resilience a top priority. This means staying alert, keeping up with the latest trends, and regularly testing and updating your IT resilience plan to make sure it stays effective against new threats. Security has always been paramount in our infrastructure and application design and development.
Although artificial intelligence represents a novel and potential security threat, addressing fundamental security practices can effectively mitigate such risks. Redundancy is another way of ensuring that any failure in vigilance can be overcome with availability.
Contemporary cloud providers offer features like Multi A-Z, ensuring that systems remain operational and resilient in the event of failures. This isn't just a strategic choice – it's necessary for the survival and growth of the business.
DQ: If someone's New Year's resolution is to completely turn their life around and start out in tech, even if they have no prior experience there, how would you advise them to proceed? What fields, subjects and resources are more newbie friendly and could land a job even for the self-educated?
Puneet Kumar: The field of software development has perhaps one of the biggest repositories of educational materials. I believe that persistence in this discipline invariably leads to great outcomes.
DQ: What are your tips for mid-career tech professionals who want to reinvent their career?
Puneet Kumar: I think there are plenty of opportunities for people who know their strengths and what they're interested in. If you're a mid-career professional, start by figuring out what you're really good at. Look at your strengths and what you've achieved so far—it's probably easier for you if you've been in the tech world for a while.
In tech careers today, there are lots of different jobs in both Functional and Technical areas. You could be a Product Manager, Business Analyst, or Program Manager. And in tech-specific roles, there are options like Quality Assurance, DevOps, and Engineering Management. The key is to recognize and use your strengths to avail yourself of opportunities in the ever-changing tech job market.