My First Job: Jayanth Sharma, Co-Founder & CEO, Toehold
Here’s the transcript:
Job experiences teach you many things beyond polishing your skill-sets. These learnings tend to be your guidelines for the coming times in personal and professional life.
The ‘My First Job’ captures this essence from the industry leaders. Here is an account from Jayanth Sharma, Co-Founder & CEO, Toehold:
‘My First Job’ was:
Right out of college even before I got my result, I found myself working in a startup in Mysore as a Graphic Designer, which soon turned out to be a Web Designer’s role as the need of the hour then. I had no IT experience and background Computer science and this was the job where I learnt a lot of the technical stuff about Web Designing. The company was Jarvis Infotech Pvt Ltd and we were just around a dozen people working for various clients in the US and India. I was the new kid in the block and at least the youngest in the team by 5 years as a 20-year-old young man then.
I remember walking into this office even without a resume and checking out if they had an opening for the skills I had. Right from learning how to create a Resume to the basic web design principles, I learnt everything in this little company and I truly regard this as one of my best decisions in life after coming from a Mechanical Engineering background.
The IT sector back then in 2001 was just kick starting and I had a great opportunity to learn new skills and benefit from a small company’s environment and progress as a fine User Experience Designer then.
Things I learnt:
Skills I Acquired:
Small startup jobs are great to learn skills required to accomplish tasks related to the whole domain and I wasn’t restricted to the actual deliverable but was encouraged to explore many aspects of the evolving web design world. I also did a Diploma in Information Technology while I was working here. I acquired communication skills to work remotely, I learnt how work can be really fun and the passion for work and how I would do it with all my heart was imbibed here in this small startup.
My Manager’s Teaching:
Ajay Varghese – was an excellent software engineer, manager who hired me and probably helped me learn everything that I needed to back then to do my job well. As a 21-year-old, I also strayed away from work sometimes and got into chatting platforms at times and I still remember how Ajay politely reminded me of how I should keep a tab on how much time I spend or waste on unproductive work.
Today when I come across colleagues who I manage to do the same, I smile at myself and remember my adolescent years as a professional. I owe it a lot to Ajay to have shaped me up as an IT professional.
My Journey So Far:
After moving out of this first job of mine, I worked with EXCEL SOFT Technologies in Mysore for a few months before I was absorbed by the favourite company I worked for so far – Accenture. This job moved me from, Mysore to Bangalore and it was a life-changing experience. My economic stature improved by leaps and bounds and I brushed shoulders with the best colleagues I had. I worked with various IT companies like Aztecsoft and America Online before I quit my IT job to explore my stint as a photographer.
Turning Point in my Career:
The year 2007 was a dream year for me and the Sanctuary Asia magazine made it very special by rewarding me in the Wildlife Photographer of the year contest and also featuring 4 of my images as cover pages in the magazine out of the 6 issues they publish. So these months were so encouraging that I was persuaded to decide to move out of my job eventually to explore my passion for wildlife photography.
My most crucial step/assignment:
I was moved to the User Experience Design team in Aztecsoft as a Designer and in this one year, I learnt amazing skills that would help me the rest of my life. This assignment also enabled me to plan my exit from the IT Industry and explore the world on my own.
I am very passionate about advising young people about a career switch and changing professions. Most of my advice would be cautionary and realistic. Just because it worked for someone it is not the best thing to do. Unless someone has already gained repute and expertise to take them ahead in the new experiment.
I always loved anything I did, from Mechanical Engineering to Information Technology to my Photography and Running my own Business.
I think to really do what you love, one has to love what you do and to love what you do, one has to really do what you love!
Where I see myself 5 years from here:
I would want to grow my company Toehold internationally and manage the business in a couple of demographies. Within India, I would like us to be operational in more states and continue to be the No 1. in the business.
Personally, I would like to find a CEO to replace me from my existing responsibilities while I move on to chase bigger dreams for myself and Toehold.
Thus my top three expectations from myself as well as my HR team would be to:
- Learn to delegate bigger responsibilities to my already talented colleagues
- Make it a habit to think years ahead of where we currently are and not just for the management but from every individual in the team.
- To empower colleagues to take bigger responsibilities – I will never forget what a senior executive in Accenture – PG Raghuraman once taught me: “If you want to move ahead in your career, please spend time finding and nurturing someone who can take your place.”