Sanjiv Prabhakaran is a senior executive and entrepreneur with over 30 years of software development management and technical architecture experience in mobile and web applications for a wide variety of applications and industries. In early 2002, he founded Bytes, Inc. to provide low cost and rapid software outsourcing and project management services. Sanjiv talks about so many things in this episode, ranging from transitioning from coder to leader, leading cross-cultural teams, managing internal politics, and making a difference in the world. You won’t want to miss this episode.
Q: What do you do as CEO of Bytes and how did you get there?
“I wear multiple hats, but my primary role is developing the business. I spent a lot of my time in the Bay Area before 2000. I worked at 3-4 companies. I wrote code and climbed up the ladder and managed small teams developing systems for clients. It was fun in those days.”
“There came a time when I was looking to go further and be independent. In 2000, I found a nice opportunity here in San Diego and that’s how we came down. This was as a VP of Engineering and R&D for a small software company dealing with real estate. That’s how I happened to lead a team of 20-30 engineers to make cool stuff.”
Q: What was the transition like from being a coder to managing teams?
“That was fun! As a coder you’re working with a team, listening to your bosses, and obviously providing input based on your experience. You always had a fixed goal and knew what you were trying to accomplish. But when you’re getting into more responsible roles, the thing that you run across is team culture. How do you integrate—especially when you have teams from different regions and different countries—and have a cohesive culture at the end? I had teams from the US and India and there were cultural differences… Understanding the cultural differences takes time.”
“It was a fun experience. It helped me grow into a role where I started realizing how to be patient with people, how to understand differences in how people communicate, and how to to build a team spirit.” To hear how Sanjiv manages cultural differences between the US and India, handles internal politics among leaders, builds trust in the leadership team, and leads his teams to improve efficiency for their customers, listen to the episode.
Q: I see that you help physically challenged individuals with job opportunities within Bytes and other companies. How do you do that?
“Yes, this was an interesting project that started few years ago. A family friend in India mentioned this young 20-year old kid that had an unfortunate train accident and hit his head and became a quadriplegic with no movement below his neck. He was bed-ridden but full of joy and motivation to live a full life! He found a way to use his voice as a powerful tool to command his computer into doing all kinds of tasks. He was able to use his voice to control the files and keyboard so he could type out documents and do various web development tasks on the computer. He had a couple clients in the UK and USA for whom he did basic tasks of updating web pages and creating shopping cart sites on eBay, etc.”
“I then visited him on one of my India trips and was able to see how he manipulated the computer via his voice. It was just mind-boggling to see how his injuries had no impact on his mind and heart. So, I hired him to do some of my web and Excel tasks. He later created a tutoring class in his home to help young kids that wanted to learn about computers and web programming.”
To hear other ways Sanjiv contributes to society and to get ideas of how you can contribute, listen to the episode.
Words of Wisdom:
Sometimes a nod is a shake and a shake is a nod.
I had to learn patience to lead a team.
Having trust between team members is crucial.
The earlier you do something about a bad fit the better.
Volunteer work is about bringing your skills to help the organization grow and spread the word.
Each person has to find the synergy between a philanthropy organization and their goals and passion.
Contact Sanjiv Prabhakaran: