Connect with people whom you admire. Things can take longer so stay in touch. At the right moment, don’t hesitate to ask.
I recently became an Engineering Manager after being an Individual Contributor for almost 8 years. If you are interested to know more about the reasoning behind the change. As like many other jobs in Tech, there is no formal training for an Engineering Manager. Reminds me of my dad’s saying “How do you teach one to swim? Just throw on the water !”. I felt it would be great to have a mentor with whom I can chat/discuss regularly around management, leadership, politics, team building etc etc…
I thought for a moment who should I have my mentor? I am not the most networked person in the valley but at the same I don’t live in a cave. Some people who came to my mind are previous bosses, managers in my current company, some thought leaders in Twitter, LinkedIn etc. However, many of those lacked the personal touch.
My ideal mentor would be someone
1. Genuinely I admire and can connect on a personal level
2. Who has experience building and leading diverse teams at different places in varying capacity
3. Of course, should love tech (Bonus point for Databases :) )
It didn’t take that long for me to identify that person. It’s Gaja, an Oracle Performance tuning wizard. I first came to know through a workshop he conducted in 2013 or 2014 (I don’t remember exactly when) at Loyola college, Chennai. That workshop was just 8 hours but the impact that he created was very deep. I really loved his approach to teaching combined with his humor.
He is one of the reasons that I got interested in the database field and went to pursue information systems in grad school. Life moves on, I finished my grad school and was looking for a job. Of course, I reached out to him; however he was in a transition on his next phase of life. Anyways, I stayed in touch over the next five years.
I reached out again requesting to be a mentor recently and guess what he agreed. So, finally I got a chance to discuss with him on a more frequent basis on almost any topic. Also, Gaja welcomed the idea of publishing our discussions publicly with the interest of helping more people. So, Stay tuned here for the summary of our Guru Sishyan [meaning teacher-student] series.
Also, I took a step back and thought about these entire events for a moment. It is very in-line with my two strong beliefs.
- Tech world is smaller than one imagines
- Always be nice