Meet Maheshwar Reddy, Engineering Manager at Healthi.in, one of India’s fastest growing healthcare startups. His is an interesting journey that goes from not knowing anything about computers until college, then heading into the practical side of programming, and later catching up on the theoretical side. Read on.
How did you start programming and what about it gives you a kick?
I was very interested in Mathematics, aptitude and reasoning in school. I didn’t like other subjects, especially where there was a lot of theory. Math was all about application of logic to solve problems. I enjoyed this. During the final year of my B.Sc. in Mathematics-Physics-Chemistry, I took an aptitude test and decided to go for programming classes.
At this point, I didn’t know anything about computers or much about the Internet. In 3 years of college, I would have gone to an Internet café twice. I remember getting my Gmail account in 2007. So from having no idea about computers to going for programming classes, I discovered the connection between my passion for logic and how programming works.
I was also preparing for MCA entrance and got admission into an MCA college. I found that I was good at it, and enjoyed programming in C++, working with data structures and algorithms – where I could apply logic to get things done. But I was bad at learning theory and some concepts.
I made a mistake. I didn’t realise that I need to know theory, and I can’t live with just programming. It was only when I started attending interviews during campus placements, and later while shifting to newer jobs that I realised this mistake. In one campus interview, they asked me all data science and algorithm questions. And because of how the discussion on these topics progressed, the interview went on for 1.5 hours. But throughout the years, I’ve attended around 100 interviews and succeeded only at 10. I would fail the interview at any company that asked me theoretical questions. I realised why it’s important, and started learning and catching up on theory.
I’ve spent 9 years in the industry and am at my 4th job now. To get something done on the job, you automatically learn all the theory you need. But knowing the answers to theory questions in interviews is a different thing altogether. Learning theory is not just for interviews, though. It helped me see beyond coding, and look at solutions more deeply and holistically.
Along the way I also figured out that technology can really change the world, and that building robust solutions needs more than great coding. It needs business, management and leadership skills and empathy, besides logic and reasoning.
I just took a step in that direction by joining Healthi.in as an engineering manager. I do some amount of coding like writing unit test cases, but I am getting to play a different role than before.
What gives me a kick is the fact that I get to apply my problem solving skills in my work.
What do you like and dislike about technology?
Every solution that is being built today is data-driven. No business, decision, product, feature, personalisation or customer satisfaction can happen without data. With the hottest tech like AI and ML, the underlying matter is data. The cloud is about giving scalability to huge volumes of data.
What I like about it is, today businesses are able to solve real problems by using data effectively.
Can you talk about some interesting challenges you have worked on?
I worked on a data system which was challenging and I got to learn a lot from it. When you deal with large volumes of data, writing algorithms to organise, understand and segment the data itself is challenging. After building the solution you need to optimise it and take it to the next level – I learnt how to consider the future scale and direction while building a product, how to optimise the logic, and keep improving the product with the improvement in traffic and how to think long term in all aspects of building a solution.
What would be your advice to your younger self?
It’s important to focus not only on coding, but also on understanding the theoretical parts like networking concepts, nuances of operating systems, system design concepts, domain specific topics etc.
While writing code, it’s better to understand the requirement in its totality and then build the solution. Rather than being told “what needs to be built”, people work better when they understand what needs to be solved. Without knowing the problem and its intricacies, when people are expected to just write the code for a product, it’s not efficient or fulfilling. When we understand the details, we write more efficient code.
Startups vs. MNC: Which would you choose and why?
I worked for 4 years in MNC environments and 5 years in startups.
I found that in MNCs, not getting to know the details of a whole bunch of things outside of the components you are working on, is a limitation and a loss of opportunity to learn a lot more.
On the other hand at startups, you get the opportunity to know how your contribution plays a role in the product. How the components connect with each other and work together in the business. Because I am involved in a lot more than just coding, it keeps the job challenging and interesting.
What are your thoughts and views on the Indian tech industry?
India has very good talent. We are good at learning, developing and being hardworking developers. But what we lack is innovation. In the US and Singapore, technologists work on innovation. They are in an environment where there can be innovation.
Here we have a good number of opportunities to apply what is already out there to develop great solutions. But we need to push beyond learning and applying; we need to start fostering true innovation. We need to create an environment where there can be innovation and there needs to be more focus on it.
What was your experience on Geektrust?
I had registered on Geektrust in 2018 and was really excited to take up the coding challenges. The coder in me found these challenges to be awesome and that itself motivated me to solve a challenge. I got a good score and the Geektrust membership.
I’m a fan of Geektrust and the whole process. It’s a brilliant way not only to identify good coders, but for coders to test their ability and knowledge too. I am a regular reader of your blog and Krishnan’s blog too. I love the gift box I got after clearing the coding challenge. I have the sticker on my laptop and it sort of reminds me to write better code. Keep up the good work.
We hope Maheshwar’s story of passion and learnings inspires you as much as it gives us joy to share it. We believe great things come from people like him, who always seek to grow out of their zones and take on new challenges.
About Geektrust Dev Stories
Geektrust is a platform for technologists to find interesting opportunities and shape the future of tech. We meet inspiring people and companies in our work, and we see some great code written by our users. So we started the Dev Stories series, to bring stories of different developers to the world.
If you’d like to be featured in our Dev Stories, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Liked this story? Share it or leave us a comment.