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Old 21st May 2018, 00:55   #106
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This is a moot point because >40 and <25 people don't do same kind of work, at least not in India.
Why not? In IT companies, the motto is that you move up, or you move out. At least in my parents generation, there was no problem with you being 40+ and working in a lower grade designation - My mother was a clerk in a govt office for around 2/3 of her career, and I have plenty of relatives who opted to stay at lower grade jobs in banks etc for relatively lower pay. Even in the US, you see plenty of Older people still working in technical fields ( though unfortunately they're being replaced by our people). I dont have an ego problem - I started out as a tester, and I have no issues going back to being just a functional tester for a entry level tester's salary ( Don't say automation has killed that - there is plenty of testing work going around which cannot be automated)

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Yes, you are right. It will be more like 100x or 1000x, that is how it is justified. Some people may not understand the math here, so let me give an example. Imagine a company division with $10 million revenue, and it has 90 developers with 2-5 years, 9 managers with 10-15 years, and a GM with 25 years. The GMs success/failure = success/failure of the division, so he/she is responsible for the entire 10 million. Meanwhile the 2.5 years guy (say junior most) is responsible for 1/100th of that revenue, while making 1/10th of the GM.

Yes, the division can hire 5 juniors developers at the half the cost of the GM, but can they do the job of the GM?

100 TCS junior developers make less than the CEO of TCS. But I doubt even 100 TCS junior developers can effectively do the function of TCS CEO. The latter has way too much responsibility compared to even 1000 junior developers.
I think the problem is precisely this pyramid. 20 years ago, when IT was growing exponentially, this was not an issue. those 90 developers, in 10 or 15 years from now, are going to find themselves kicked out because, nobody wants a 40 year old developer, and there is room for only 10 managers and 1 ceo. It's a game of musical chairs that the majority will lose. Everyone may not have the desire to move into sales or management. Even if they continue to invest in domain and technology skills, if you can't move into these shoes, there are very few roles for you.

Last edited by greenhorn : 21st May 2018 at 01:01.
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Old 21st May 2018, 08:39   #107
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Very interesting thread, lots of valid points.

I'm 42 years old, have been working with a major software firm for the last 19 years, and I resigned last month. I'm a hands-on chap and fairly good at what I do. My reason for leaving was simple - got bored of the whole rat race and needed a break.

In particular, the cloud scene brought along a hyper-inflated emphasis on deployment - which left me rather deflated. In my team, the actual developers were left in the shadows while the deployment/operations guys (who can barely script to save their life, forget writing code) were always in the limelight. Fair or not, that was the scene and I soon found myself unexcited about it all.

My experience has been that if you're good at what you do - hands-on or otherwise - you're sorted, regardless of your experience. When I sent in my resignation (I cited health reasons, to minimize the subsequent debate), I was given the following options - work from home, work from remote, work part time, work as a contractor. I was also contacted by 2 of my former bosses in the same company, asking if I'm interested in going back to their team.

I have to confess that I took the decision (to resign) after a lot of hesitation and nervous tension, but the experience I just mentioned did leave me reassured. It might be (and probably will be) a different experience if I try to apply to other firms (where I will be a 42 year old unknown quantity) but yeah I guess I'll cross that bridge once/if I get there...

Also, a note on junior engineers - I was one of the 2 senior engineers in my team, and the rest were all with less than 8 years of experience. There were about 10 of them. Pure IQ-wise, perhaps some of them were better than either of us seniors, but when it came to hands-on work - we both would do more than all of them put together, in half the time. Again, this has got nothing to do with intelligence but just experience - at this stage you've made all the mistakes before, and hence you tend to make the right decisions most of the time which help you move along faster when it comes to implementing something.

In fact one of the junior chaps is quite exceptionally intelligent - in many situations, when it comes to knowing what to do, he's better than either of us. However, when it comes to knowing what not to do...it's a different story!

Last edited by Rehaan : 24th May 2018 at 14:49. Reason: Typo: resume >> resignation
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Old 21st May 2018, 09:58   #108
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Default Re: The plight of IT professionals in their 40s

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Why not? In IT companies, the motto is that you move up, or you move out. At least in my parents generation, there was no problem with you being 40+ and working in a lower grade designation - My mother was a clerk in a govt office for around 2/3 of her career, and I have plenty of relatives who opted to stay at lower grade jobs in banks etc for relatively lower pay.
Now we are talking with cross purposes. This thread is talking about IT industry where big-hikes/big-bonus/promotions are expected to be handed out like candy. IT industry is where people demand [1.x/2.x * years] salaries as if it is their birth right. Why are you comparing that situation with banks where none of the above exists?

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Even in the US, you see plenty of Older people still working in technical fields
Yes, I have worked with such folks. But such a thing is rare in India. Most of the time, the HR guys will throw away the resume of older programmer saying it is not practical.

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I think the problem is precisely this pyramid..... Everyone may not have the desire to move into sales or management. Even if they continue to invest in domain and technology skills, if you can't move into these shoes, there are very few roles for you.
You are talking about sanity, stability, and maturity. Indian IT industry is unfamiliar with that concept.

Also, read this what BHPian motor has written here:
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Also, a note on junior engineers - I was one of the 2 senior engineers in my team, and the rest were all with less than 8 years of experience. There were about 10 of them. Pure IQ-wise, perhaps some of them were better than either of us seniors, but when it came to hands-on work - we both would do more than all of them put together, in half the time.
You nailed it. People like you can't be replaced with a 2 year old developer. This is what one needs to have in order to have longevity in IT industry. Folks who were in a hurry to become managers, are now left high and dry.
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Old 21st May 2018, 10:18   #109
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People often talk about re-skilling, as if they can change their profile like a costume. In my opinion, the most valuable asset a professional has is their domain knowledge. When doctors/lawyers work for 20+ years, what they gain is domain knowledge. That is what makes those years so valuable. Similarly, if an IT professional builds domain knowledge about an industry, it is much more valuable to the company than a skill you pick up over a month from some certificate course. Technical skills are just tools in your mental toolbox. Knowing how to apply those tools to solve problems or build products/solutions for an industry, is domain knowledge.

For example, to develop a banking/taxation software, the knowledge of banking/taxation is 10 times more important than knowing programming.
Domain knowledge can be a way into the IT industry as well.

Case in point is my friend who was a manager in a multi-national bank and decided to quit in his early 40's and join an software company. What he had that was invaluable to them was his banking knowledge. Now he's posted in locations across the world where his job is to study the client's banking system so that the "IT guys" can alter their product as per client need. He stays on till implementation and then on to the next location.

Guess who is more valuable to his company (Infosys) than the pure developers?
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Old 21st May 2018, 10:24   #110
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@samaspire; He managed to find a niche where is previous skills and the client needs mesh in nicely.

In the IT business you have to essentially unlearn and relearn every five years max. It sounds ironic, but I guess the higher packages are just to compensate out these skill. Either you are a manager or are at a loss. They are paying you for a max ten years service.
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Old 21st May 2018, 10:33   #111
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Folks who were in a hurry to become managers, are now left high and dry.
Very common trend. I'm nearing 10 years of experience - and have been adviced a dozen times or more to move into management roles - TL (non technical), people manager and so. Infact, most young managers (who don't have either technical or people skills) take extreme pride in their posts.

Almost all of them are baffled when i tell them i wish to remain in technical side. Not that I feel it will give job guarantee for life, but I'm really worried about this management culture promoted in our company - none (or atleast most) of them learning any skills in their careers - other than organizing team outings and dinners.

I'm a bit confused reading the earlier posts though. As a technical resource, my goal was to maintain base knowledge of multiple skills to be adaptable when needed - and to maintain a couple of decent primary skills to concentrate on - but some posts suggest this 'jack of all' approach may get me in trouble later.

I was hoping to get into some (cloud) architect kind of roles with this approach though.

Any suggestions?

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 21st May 2018 at 10:34.
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Old 21st May 2018, 10:46   #112
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Default Re: The plight of IT professionals in their 40s

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I'm a bit confused reading the earlier posts though. As a technical resource, my goal was to maintain base knowledge of multiple skills to be adaptable when needed - and to maintain a couple of decent primary skills to concentrate on - but some posts suggest this 'jack of all' approach may get me in trouble later.

I was hoping to get into some (cloud) architect kind of roles with this approach though.

Any suggestions?
Don't focus on technical skill. They are secondary. Focus on a business domain, and learn the nitty gritty of that business. Then learn the technology skill required for that domain, this will keep changing every few years, but the domain knowledge keeps accumulating. Domains rarely become obsolete.

Also, staying technical in a low-tech company is a bad idea. If you want to remain technical, switch to a company with hi-tech work. They are the ones who have people with 10+ or 20+ years doing individual contributions.
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Old 21st May 2018, 11:37   #113
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DISCLAIMER : I am from a non IT industry

I am 40 and have worked all my professional life ( 18+ years ) in a non IT field ( sales actually ). When i graduated , out a class of 70 odd, almost 95% went to IT since it was "THE" field those days. I consciously stayed away since i did not enjoy doing coding and basically looking up a computer screen all day.

Looking back now i don't regret what i have chosen except that this trend ( hire, use and then fire) is universal and not limited to IT alone. At 40, most of us go through a mid life crisis both personally and professionally. It's just that at 40, we get to see life as it will play out , and for most part understand that we can't control all of it. What went up must come down.
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Old 21st May 2018, 14:38   #114
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Great thread, very relevant to a lot of us (I'm 40+ too) - so it seems this where a lot of the TBHP demographic rests

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True Story - 1
The operative words to survival are mentioned in Samurai's earlier post:
Finance (if it's a medium to large sized company) / Sales (regardless of size) / Small company (for techies)
You just can't go wrong with that formula.
I would say that the above is a little bit of the "grass is greener on the other side" syndrome, since I'm in Finance and see a lot of people in my field get the pink slip for no other reason than that there's a certain number of headcount reduction target to be met.

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Those who were complacent, acted nice, exhibited loyalty are now worried about the day the HR comes with his pink slip.
Loyalty to company may have been counted as a virtue in our parent's generation. For the earlier generation, it was a matter of pride that you could retire from the company you joined at the start of your career. Now, if you dont jump jobs within 3 years, you probably have people asking stuff like "what's wrong with you", and "can't you find another job" !


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Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
As a retired business man I can tell you there is only so much you can foresee and the rest you put into risk taking and being nimble and courageous when the unexpected jolt comes - the key words are nimble and courageous.

Take a leaf out of an entrepreneurs book - cash flows, cash conservation, building contingency reserves. Your home budget is not very different from a business. Businesses and families that over borrow and mortgage their future run the same risks when the unexpected comes.

Think beyond simply looking for another job. Try self-employment. Once you get used to it, it is addictive. Best of luck. You have nothing to lose but your inhibitions.
A lot of what you say above is true, but believe me that people who are 40+, therefore typically having been employed for two decade plus, it's easier said than done. For me personally, I cannot say when will come the day to face this, but yes, my mind is set, it can only be a shot at entrepreneurship.

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Looking back now i don't regret what i have chosen except that this trend ( hire, use and then fire) is universal and not limited to IT alone. At 40, most of us go through a mid life crisis both personally and professionally. It's just that at 40, we get to see life as it will play out , and for most part understand that we can't control all of it. What went up must come down.
Very true, and yes it's a universal phenomenon for sure, not just limited to IT field or to coder jobs.
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Old 21st May 2018, 18:32   #115
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In general, every field can get impacted by rapid change in technology.

1) An experienced employee would had seen more and therefore can recognize more patterns/anti-patterns in the job by the virtue of his longer experience. Going ahead, in many fields, these patterns can be learned by machines by the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies. IBM Watson software has the potential to impact the jobs of Doctors and lawyers. See one sample here:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/17/lawy...elligence.html

If something like this is coupled with robotics, I wonder if even surgeons can be at risk.

2) Teaching was an ever green field. Today, e-learning websites like Udemy, Coursera etc has huge breadth and reach across the globe. Now, everyone is seriously wondering what is the effectiveness and hence future of an time boxed formal medium environment of instruction like a class room.

3) I have friends who were working in well paying jobs in Gulf countries. Now, the natives are taking over the good paying ones. Indians, Pakistanis etc are left behind only to do menials which natives don't prefer to do. Many are returning.

As Bill Gates predicted/recommended some time back, Government may collect taxes for employing robots also. Since fewer and fewer humans may be required in the work force, Governments all over the world may discourage population increase and introduce a minimum guaranteed wage policy, irrespective of working or not.

Last edited by B103 : 21st May 2018 at 18:44.
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Old 21st May 2018, 23:03   #116
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Every career be it a job or as a self employed professional is a balance of paisa-prestige-stability. An IAS has a lot of the latter two but less of the first (sadly so in my opinion at least). A CEO with a hedge fund has a lot of paisa, he buys prestige but has no stability. Most of us are somewhere in between. When we take up jobs or when entire flocks of employees start earning 2X or 3X what was paid just a few years earlier then there is a trade-off with the other two weights in the tarazoo (traditional weighing scale). What's happening in a sense is a righting of the balance.

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7 Pages and I wonder why nobody has bought up work life balance?
Good question. Allow me to chime in. When we strive to improve our standard of living 2X or 3X in less than 1/3rd of a generation then work life balance cannot not be a realistic aim in parallel. A 30 year old in 2015 is often times earning more than his 60 year old parents are at the end of their career span. These monetary rewards don't come for free. The West Europeans are the closest to having a work-life balance but their per capita today is not 3X of 20 years ago in real terms. As an erstwhile employer in India I learnt you can talk of work-life balance only if your costs are in INR and your revenues in USD because then your profits are from the purchasing power parity differences. If your supply and demand is both in INR the competitive pressure is so severe not only from Indian competitors but Chinese as well that work-life balance is so far high on Maslow's nirvana of needs that you can't address it - neither for the employee nor for the employer. As an SME you can be nice to your employees, you can be warm and genuinely connected but everyone jolly well work the 48-hour week without muttering. The employer being scared of the employee quitting or constantly threatening to quit may be so in parts of our IT industry but it is not the norm in most of the Indian economy expect, I don't know, maybe financial services or some highly specialized trades like a super chef or a super surgeon.

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Old 22nd May 2018, 10:57   #117
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7 Pages and I wonder why nobody has bought up work life balance?
I am not sure about others, but if I look at my scenario I would have better work life balance if my commute time were to be optimised.

In individual contributor roles, many of us in the IT industry have an option of what we call working for home
Even though the timings may be stretched it allows us the luxury of connecting from home. It saves a lot of time and stress on the commute and allows those with young families or parents to take care of some tasks or be present/ available for family. For those in managerial positions, it may mean additional tasks in terms of connecting the dots but it seems like the way ahead to save on commercial real estate rental costs.

Yet, we do need to travel to our workplace/ client sites more often than not. If I spend an average of 3 hours a day in traffic and 9 hours at work, the commute generates more fatigue than my work times. If this can be reduced due to virtual workplaces or better infrastructure (by prioritising metro or rapid transport lines to IT parks), this would automatically improve the work life balance.

Perhaps no one brought up the work life balance because even during a typical workday many of us take some personal time. For paying bills, filing taxes, smoke/ tea/ coffee breaks, etc. The 'net' productive time of an employee is probably the biggest headache of most organisations these days, but that is a different topic by itself (though related)

Last edited by selfdrive : 22nd May 2018 at 11:01.
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Old 23rd May 2018, 12:50   #118
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In the IT business you have to essentially unlearn and relearn every five years max. It sounds ironic, but I guess the higher packages are just to compensate out these skill.
I completely agree with this. One should never stop learning. I can give some example from my background. When I completed my bachelors, I was certain I will do a PhD in control systems. My father who let me grow free range so far, asked me that how do I know this is my passion? Is it just because I got good grades in all controls and maths courses or do I really love it. He suggested that I should get some real life experience.

Luck sometimes plays interesting hands. I landed up designing digital signal processors (DSPs) with not a single course in signal processing. So everything I learned was on the job and it was fascinating. Right around year 2000, I thought it was good to get some more formal education. I ended up doing masters and doctoral studies in statistical signal processing. Remember this is all before the current craze of machine learning. There weren't that many jobs available even in a strong economy. Somehow my design background and signal processing background helped me in getting a job designing displays. It was fascinating to see the evolution from VGA liquid crystal displays to UHD displays in 6-7 years. The complexity of these factories were astounding. I have not seen bigger engineering ventures like these in my life.

Right around the time displays were becoming commodities, a revolution had started from a company called Apple. A new device called Smartphones were getting popular. They needed signal processing and good displays but in a power efficient way. I somehow started working on that and if you are not using an iPhone you may be using one of my designed module.

Around 2014 innovation in smartphone was slowing and a new thing called machine learning was sweeping the industry. Few of us started pleading with higher management that AI in smartphone is the new frontier and we should be proactive. It kind of fell in deaf ears, so I started looking into other applications. That led me to automotive safety and autonomous driving. It was one of the life changing decision moving way from semiconductors to more of a system design role. Some of my peers and mentors warned me that it was a big risk at 40. I gave some thought and then decided to go for it.

One thing led to another and today I work on helping more than 1B user navigating their way safely. As my current VP told me before I took the job is that your role is to find a way to update our maps in Brazil, Nigeria, India or any other country at the same rate we update 5th Avenue in NYC. The scale of the operation is mind boggling. Some time I pinch myself when my colleague shows me the new camera module he is building that will go to space in few weeks or the latest data coming in from Lagos Nigeria where we can process the house numbers and update the map for the first time.

One thing for sure, it never hurts to stop dreaming and not being afraid to take risks. As someone who first saw electric lights at home when he was 14, I surely have seen lot of cutting edge technology in the ensuing years

Last edited by Rehaan : 24th May 2018 at 14:50. Reason: Adding lines between paragraphs - helps readability :)
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Old 23rd May 2018, 13:14   #119
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All this pages of discussions shows the reality of IT industry and its challenges and evolution over the time!! Fascinating!! I have few questions:

1. I am starting my 30s and I am leading a L1 support team in India in one of the big 4 US banks. I support the contact center applications (IVR/CTI/Telephony,etc). There are many opportunities available but I am confused how should i pace or direct myself. I love this job, challenges are plenty. However I am not sure of how to move forward. Help and support from management is good for me to shape my career. Any help on this is appreciated.
2. How do I develop interest and learn the cutting or leading edge technologies in my job?
3. My domain is retail and community banking specific to USA. Apart from the company facilitated training, how do i gain more knowledge and insights on this?
4. Innovation is the buzzword at present. However I am struggling to think of any significant innovation process. All i can think or come up with is some script to automate a manual task. How do i think big?
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Old 23rd May 2018, 13:56   #120
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I support the contact center applications (IVR/CTI/Telephony,etc).
This is my area, although from the product side. So I am qualified to reply to this one.

These telephony applications generate massive amount of data every day. Do you have the skills to squeeze useful information from this massive amount of data? If you learn statistics, all the data you accumulate everyday starts making 10 times more sense, if not more.
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