Down, not Out

Has anybody considered giving the Indian IT Industry an award for succeeding
during the current financial year in spite of all odds? Travel across the US and
see the corpses of thousands of companies, washed away by the twin waves of the
recession and the September 11 disaster. Besides, there are hundreds of others
with a glimmer of hope after seeing revenues halved and profits evaporate during
the last twelve months. Only then would one understand the resilience of the
Indian IT industry that has been buffeted by wave upon wave of disaster. Adding
to the two global disasters, we had our very own local massing of troops on the
neighboring border and now the horror of Gujarat, which has sent new shivers
across the collective spines of our American and European customers and

“Web and Unix administrators will never go out of fashion like the vast Java and vanilla ERP community”


The entire industry, particularly software exporters, are preparing to count
the few blessings of the year that is ending and address the growth challenges
in the forthcoming year. It would not be out of place to point out to the
thousands of millionaire wannabes who are deserting IT for seemingly safer
career options, that the opportunities that attracted them toward computer
training institutes through the nineties, are still very much there. Possibly
not for the get rich quick types but very much for the sincere and focused breed
that the Indian industry has been built out of.

A case in point is the story of a young lad called V Krishnan who has
succeeded against all odds to make a career switch and move to the US in the
middle of the slowdown. Having quit a ‘safe’ job and ventured off to
Portland, Oregon in the middle of 2001, young Krishnan had everything going
against him. But due to sheer diligence and perseverance, he is a proud Unix
Administrator at a significant logistics firm on the West Coast, building his
bank balance as well as his confidence in spite of the business mayhem that has
been wreaked all around him. In a recent mail exchange, Krishnan says
opportunities still exists for Web application developers, manufacturing and
transportation ERP specialists, logistics and supply chain business
professionals, quality assurance, testing and disaster recovery skills and
systems administrators of all hues.

Web and Unix administrators will never go out of fashion like the vast Java
and vanilla ERP community, because skills in high-availability systems, data
changeovers from one system to another in times of emergency, backup and restore
management, patch management and switching are now the core need of all medium
and large installations.

What makes the Krishnan success story highly replicable is that jobs like his
do not need ‘rocket science’ qualification. He suggests a bachelor’s
degree in science and two to five years of work experience since rookies are
more likely to be hired from local American community colleges. What is more
important, he feels are good communication skills, an ability to see the larger
picture and marry system needs to organization demands and the willingness to
provide regular updates to team leaders and members, even if there are mistakes
to be reported. And most important, he feels is the ability to follow American
football, baseball and basketball and discuss these topics avidly every Monday

The revival of business prospects in the global software markets will surely
lead to success for the farsighted and clairvoyant firms, which have used the
slow period to reskill and retool and move a little further up the value chain.

Finally, a thought on Gujarat. In this extremely disturbed environment, where
the smoke and fire may have been temporarily doused but the dust is still to
settle on the killing fields across the state, is it not the responsibility of
the educated and employed intelligentsia to take up the cause of a truly secular
India and be prepared to protect the secular tenets of our country with little
more than words? It is time to participate in the confidence building agenda
through monetary and physical involvement and lead the way within our
organizations as the IT Industry has always done — let us make the environment
and our country proud again.

The author is deputy chairman and managing director of Zensar Technologies
and the global CEO of Zensar
He can be reached at

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