From startup culture to scalable products, some memorable quotes from previous Future of Work events

This year, YourStory brings to you the third edition of Future of Work that will see the best minds of the tech industry – at an even bigger scale. #FoW2020 will be held on February 28 and 29 in Bengaluru.

22nd Feb 2020
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Future of Work is a one-of-a-kind gathering of technologists, leaders, entrepreneurs, and hiring managers to find some real answers on technology and talent.


Over the last two years, the event has witnessed some brilliant minds exchanging ideas and knowledge on topics that ranged from technology and future jobs, to diversity and data science, and brought together startups, corporates, CXOs, and hiring managers.


This year, YourStory brings to you the third edition of Future of Work that will see the best minds of the tech industry – at an even bigger scale. #FoW2020 will be held on February 28 and 29 in Bengaluru.


Here is a quick recap of some of the inspiring words that stuck with us from the past editions of Future of Work:

On evolving role of engineers in an algorithmised world

Amod Malviya is best known in the startup ecosystem as the man who built Flipkart’s technology backbone. Today, he’s better known as the Co-founder of Udaan, the B2B marketplace that raced to unicorn status in under 26 months.


Amod Malviya



The Udaan Co-founder shared a series of tips that differentiate great engineers from average ones at Future of Work 2019.


Learn to identify inefficiencies in the real world. “Most engineers are so disconnected from the real world that they cannot identify an opportunity that calls for a complete transformation,” he said, adding that this is the reason there are so many non-technical entrepreneurs who keep their eyes and ears open for these opportunities and then look for a technical co-founder to build a solution. This is something that engineers need to start doing in a big way.


Take accountability. Analyse the problem, talk to the user and iterate through it before moving forward.


Speed, speed, speed. In the internet era, where distribution is massive, remember that you are not the only person that identified that inefficiency. Engineers who tend to relegate themselves to the delivery process are letting the tool, and not the problem, identify them.

Data Transformation using AI 

A noted name in the analytics and data science world, Sameer Dhanrajani, Chief Strategic Officer, Fractal Analytics, is known to have built and scaled Cognizant’s analytics and data sciences businesses, making it one of the front-runners in the industry.


Sameer Dhanrajani



His talk at Future of Work 2019 revolved around how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to transform how data can be analysed and business decisions can be taken.


Sameer said,


“On an average, human beings take 64 decisions in a minute, and several of these are driven by gut, intuition, friends and spouses. If these decisions are being taken by algorithms, it will change how we interact and make decisions.” 

Building voice augmented experiences

Having his career revolve around acquisitions, Kumar Rangarajan sees that his life comes full circle once every five years. After selling his previous startup, Little Eye Labs, to Facebook (which was the company’s first India-acquisition) in 2014, Kumar co-founded Slang Labs in 2017. The startup develops augmented voice experiences for users, through which they can command their devices to perform actions, without having to touch the screen.


Rangaranjan


At Future of Work 2019, Kumar Rangarajan threw light on how voice will aid and rule apps. He said,


“The trend is headed in a clear direction — digital experiences are moving beyond just the screen. In the very near future, we’ll see business, creativity, work, and leisure move toward a world where your phone, laptop, desktop, and TV screens won’t be the sole conduits for digital interactions. New technologies are emerging to create deeper, yet less attached, connections between our physical and digital worlds.”

Building a trustworthy network

One of India’s well-known innovators and entrepreneurs, Rahul Raj, CEO of Koinex, is the winner of the prestigious Hultz Prize for social entrepreneurs.


Rahul Raj


At Future of Work 2019, Rahul Raj took the stage to share how blockchain is going to transform the world we live in, and how one can build a new trust machine.


Delving into how one can build a machine that is decentralised and trustworthy, Rahul said,


“When you want to build a trust machine of your own, pick a scalable chain, identify a use case, product, business solution or a need of the hour you want to solve, and really push for some kind of open environment where people can collaborate together.”

Product that scales globally

Srikrishnan Ganesan, one of the founders of messaging app Konotor, realised early on that building a product for use at a global scale is very important as a product engineer. In 2015, this was validated to an extent when Konotor was acquired by Indian product unicorn Freshworks for an undisclosed amount.


Srikrishnan


At Future of Work 2019, Srikrishnan Ganesan, now Director, Products, at Freshworks, opined the key to building a great product is validation, which will eventually build sales and marketing expertise.


“One of the key factors is that you have to be cognisant of the market that you launch in and be ready for failures if the market does not accept the product.”


He further pointed out, “All entrepreneurs have to make luck work in their favour when all odds are stacked against them.”

Build a stunningly designed app

Harish Sivaramakrishnan earned the moniker of ”rockstar techie” as the frontman of Carnatic progressive rock band Agam, as well as having worked for Adobe, Myntra, Freecharge, and Google. Today, however, he is best known as the man behind the design of the credit card payment-rewards app CRED.


Harish


Sharing the principles behind designing CRED, Chief Design Officer Harish said at Future of Work 2019:


“You don't measure design efficiency by breaking it into its components…you can’t just take off an illustration and try to measure how it helped,” he asserted. When you do that, you end up ignoring the fact that human beings think emotionally and end up building products that have “zero inspiration”.  It’s what happens with a majority of products - they do the job, but they don't inspire. “And for me, a product needs to inspire.”

Setting up culture of redundancies

Sandipan is the Co-founder and CEO of Xelpmoc, a technology, analytics, and design company focused on solving problems for the next five hundred million Indians.


Sandipan was among the guys who built Tata’s first website, Tata.com. He co-founded MoneyControl and worked on building digital platforms for Unilever, Hyundai, IndiaInfoline, and others, before heading technology for Justdial.


Sandipan


In a candid keynote at YourStory’s 2019 edition of Future of Work conference, Sandipan Chattopadhyay spoke about how redundancy is a must-have to foster the growth of any company or startup.


He explained that this cycle of redundancy makes people think of growth at every level in a more important way. They also then find interesting things to do.


"If everyone is made redundant in the growth phase, that leads to a chain growth reaction, which is very important for the stable growth of the company,” Sandipan said.

Work culture, tech adoption, and hiring right

Sidu Ponnappa, the tech entrepreneur who currently heads the Gojek India Engineering Centre, has had a riveting journey that speaks of his passion for technology, innovation, risk-taking, and entrepreneurship. By the time he was in Class VI, he had evolved into a fairly good BASIC programmer and by the end of Class X, Sidu was deep into front-end programming.


His 11-year-long experience as a tech entrepreneur has many lessons — on failures, entrepreneurship, and leadership — for anyone aspiring to strike out on their own.


Sidu Ponnappa


At Future of Work 2019, Sidu Ponnappa spoke about preparing for jobs that don’t exist. He opined that while automation will reduce jobs, the best way is to face it. 


He said,


“These days finding success is mostly with dealing with change. There is no way to predict the future and the incredible becomes banal with time. Ongoing disruptions that we have accepted are GPS, OSS, ageing, disease, injury, democracy, gender, money (cryptocurrency).”


He urged the youth to find mentors to learn faster, and advised young startup founders to enjoy living in uncertainty. "Make it certain either through action or imagination. Learn to surf chaos,” he added.


Digital transformation is the new buzzword

Rishabh Kaul is the Co-founder of Belong, a SaaS company in the talent acquisition and candidate experience space. Prior to Belong, he was an early member at Grey Orange, a warehousing automation company, as well as a venture capitalist at Aavishkaar Venture Management Services.


Digital transformation is the new buzzword,” said Rishabh Kaul at Future of Work 2018.


“Technology and the digital world have transformed not only the way we work, but also the kind of talent you look at.”

 

Rishab


Rishabh feels hiring at the top is different; talent strategy to hire for top positions can't be the same as for other roles, as there is an acute shortage of talent. 


"Today, there will be more and more roles where there will be lesser supply and a lot of first-timers. This means companies need to be willing to take more risks. This also means that resumes need to change," he added. 

Be clear of your startup culture to make a lasting impression

Sanjay Anandaram is a passionate advocate of entrepreneurship in India. He has close to two decades of experience as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, venture investor, faculty member, advisor, and mentor. 


He’s involved with Nasscom, TiE, IIM-Bangalore, and INSEAD business school in driving entrepreneurship.


Sanjay


At Future of Work 2018 , while talking about the diverse culture prevalent across different companies, Sanjay Anandaram said, 


“While there is no right or wrong, good or bad culture founders have to be clear about what their aspirations are.”


Citing a good example of collaborative culture at the workplace, Sanjay recalled the anecdote of the initial days at Yahoo, when the roof leaked in its office, and employees brought in buckets from their homes. He advocated founders ask themselves some pertinent questions, such as, 'Who are you?' 'What do you stand for?' 'What is your belief system?' 'Do you actually believe in anything at all?' and 'Why should you?' "Ask yourselves all these questions, because all this will translate into culture. Every single line item translates cumulatively into culture,” he added.


Technology to run businesses

Parthasarathy NS, COO and Executive Vice President, Mindtree, during the keynote talk at Future of Work 2018, said, 


“Despite there being a large set of data in-house in companies, people still follow the traditional way of finding analyses and reports. Most companies are great at using technology to reach the outside world (mainly customers), but very few look within, and leverage technology well for internal processes.”


Parthasarathy


He believes that startups and companies should better leverage internal resources, and their technology chops to make lives of employees easier, and eliminate unnecessary tasks.


(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)

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