Since I worked for all sizes of IT companies starting from a startup, to mid-size to an IT giant, many of my friends have asked me if the company size matter. I didn’t have any clear answer to it earlier, hence my answer used to be “it all depends case by case”. But this question kept hovering my mind since long until recently I got the answer to it in a very unexpected but an amazing situation. Let me take you through my experience in different size of companies, before I reveal the answer.
When I joined a startup size company – I started my journey with startup companies where I used to work in a DevOps kind of setup (informally, since DevOps term was probably not coined at that time). I used to gather requirements, design architectures, database and even pages, code, test, deploy it on web servers and get the sign off from customer :). My first 10 years of IT experience was in these startup/small size companies where each resource used to have full authority on their project, module, and task. Though the pressure was immense and sometimes I had to face basic issues like infrastructure, resource crunch, too much decision centralization etc., in those small companies, but I used to learn at every step and hence were still satisfied with our work and quick growth. Since my goal is to become an entrepreneur, probably the experience I got here in these companies is going to help me all the time. But then a time came particularly after my marriage when I thought I should try a brand name and accepted an offer from an Indian IT Giant.
When I joined a giant size company – However, the craving of brand name was very short lived. I was flabbergasted by the multi-layers of lazy bureaucracy present for every small decision one needs to take there. There were very few independent thinking people who could dare to challenge the status quo for the benefit of the company, otherwise all others were part of one or other group. Since I was hired directly without any reference, I never realized this in my first stint but from next project on when the management got changed, hell broke loose. This new management was busy pushing their so called own-group-people into the team and never heeded any independent voice, considering all as part of an enemy (previous management) group. I tried my best to clarify my position but in vain, hence gradually got completely disenchanted by the opaque, arrogant and irrational nature of leadership team there and decided to say goodbye to this leadership team in turn the IT giant. It’s important to point out here that there are few great people in the leadership team too (though most of them are made helpless by deliberate complicated and useless processes ironically in the age of agile revolutions) and if you are lucky to land in the projects managed by them you might get great opportunities to showcase your skills for the benefit of the company. There are few great opportunities in these big size companies like huge number of onsite, huge infrastructure, huge teams, technical and leadership training etc., which you normally don’t get to see in small companies, but it all depends on the project’s operations leadership that you get. But for me, challenges overlapped opportunities here. Hence for my own career growth, I decided to not to get my hands dirty in this vicious circle and pick an offer from a mid-size company, which will probably have good things of both the worlds – startup and big size companies.
When I joined a mid-size company and met Partha – Hence, I joined Mindtree – a mid-size IT company. Now just to explain the thought process of Mindtree, let me tell you a recent story that happened with me. While attending two-day training workshop, none other than Mindtree’s President and COO – Parthasarathy N S himself offered to meet all of us. He personally met each one and discussed things. I was surprised to see his simplicity and eagerness to listen each one of us. He unhesitatingly sat with us for lunch and, fortunately, I was sitting just beside him. And we talked for around half an hour on host of topics. And in each discussion, it was so visible how he cared about each Mindtree minds (we call Minds to all our human resources in Mindtree). I was surprised to see President of a company talking to people much lower than his rank so transparently, it was surprising particularly since I had seen people in that big size company, one rank or two rank above me acting as inaccessible or hardly caring to connect even if you are the same client location, just because they were part of a group and I was an independent thinker.
Partha started with asking me the place I stay. When he came to know it’s far from Global village near Whitefield office, he was concerned that I had to struggle in traffic for 4 hours daily. Only when I informed that I stay near Whitefield and had come here only for Workshop, he smiled and expressed his happiness. Then he informed me and all others how he had got data analysis done just to check how many people stay near to Global village but have to travel to Whitefield and vice versa. And it gave around 700 counts, which he is working with corresponding project team to fix it. I told him that what I have observed mostly is that managers/leads are not ready to have people working from different places, since it’s convenient to have them around. Partha smiled and said “That so interesting that these Managers are ready to work with customers who are part of the different continents but not with people who are in the same country, state or even city”. But he assured that he and team is working on it and is going to fix this soon. Then he talked about Mindtree Kalinga – Mindtree’s state of the art training campus for IT freshers. Once of the challenge he discussed was that they are doing experiments to ensure how they can make the whole place and residences comfortable for Minds who stay in hostels. But the one challenge the keep facing there is very high temperature, leading the experiments unsuccessful sometimes. But he again assured that they have plans to fix it soon too.
There are many such instances and processes in Mindtree which underline the fact how transparent and efficient this company is. But I picked up this story for two reasons, one because it helped me finding an answer for the question whether company size matters or not. And after this informal meeting with Partha I feel, it does and mid-size companies are currently the best to work for. And secondly because, probably it is due to the Minds and Founder members like Partha that has made the possibility of a Company having good things of both the worlds – big as well as small companies true. We don’t have useless bureaucracy here, we have ample onsite opportunities, great technical and leadership training are conducted here and we have a robust infrastructure here. I feel proud that I decided to be a part of Mindtree. As we say here in Mindtree – Welcome to Possible!
Hence, looks like company size really matters, and with my experience I think currently Mid-size companies are best to rely on.