Since the day I got into an engineering college, my mother has been proudly saying “Majha mulga computer engineer ahe!” . I used to get amused by her pride, and it still makes me smile that she is happy for me (love you Aai :-) ). As days went by and I graduated to become a software developer, the “Computer engineer ahe” line was still there. Even when I got admission into one of the better known b-schools in the country, Aai would still tag me with Computer engineer.
The point is that sometimes you feel stereo-typed with the tag. People still ask me to troubleshoot their Windows. I dont mind doing that, but to expect me to visit their place at Borivali just because something is wrong with their Internet Explorer?? Sometimes I think I need a tag which defines my work and competency space better than “Computer Engineer”.
When I started working in a start-up, explaining to my family what I do became slightly more difficult. I was in charge of handling and building the technology on an entire organization. A lot of work which required a considerable bandwidth of know-how across the tech domain – a CTO in a nutshell. Whenever someone would ask, prompt would come the reply “Majha mulga computer engineer ahe!” . I kind of prefer IIM grad, but I dont think many people know about them – with people I mean the old aunty types, who ask your mother (in a nasal twang) “Kaay karto tumcha mulga?” The ones that sometimes do know about then quip “Oohh! Ahemadabad hoy?”, mother then simply says “To computer engineer ahe!!"” . Then I would butt in to say - “I sell shirts” rather than the oft repeated computer engineer tag.
These days I am working in a knowledge lab. We work on designing knowledge interventions and designing models which can change communities to become more productive and human oriented. I hope I got it right in this one line. My specific job entails a mini-CTO who is in charge of taking care of all technology details. Now what?!? I think “Majha mulga computer engineer ahe!” is there to stay :-)