“I started working remotely in 2017!” exclaimed Nivedita. Expectedly, she had a tough time in the beginning. She had to over-communicate a lot. And she had to plan her work better. But by the time she got to writing the Android SDK that would power 150 million customers on-board onto JIO, she was a WFH-pro. But then WFH v2 hit her, and then WFH v3.
But before that, a flashback.
Nivedita got her first smartphone in college, when she was studying Computer Science. Almost immediately she got working and built an Android app.
“I used to stay in the college hostel and my parents were always worried about my safety. So when I would leave for the hostel after a late night class, or if I was going out, I would set the destination location and my dad would get an update saying that I am some kilometres away from a certain location, or that I have reached. There was no location sharing option back then.”
Predictably, her first job was as an Android developer. As a woman, she took time to adjust to the male-dominated tech world. Like in college, the men would stay back late, even overnight. Managers would perceive this as ‘putting in extra effort’ and promote the men. They would assume that a women techie’s career is going to last only till her marriage.
“During appraisal meetings and interviews I was asked when am I going to get married! Career advancement demanded all sorts of sacrifices that I was not ready to do and neither felt it was necessary.”
Nivedita went off the trodden path and joined HyperVerge at a time when HyperVerge was a small 12 people startup working furiously on a photo gallery app. The company’s journey to the promised unicorn-land was cut short when Google Photos launched as the default Android gallery app. HyperVerge pivoted to making APIs for the B2B enterprise space and what was an Android developer to do?
Nivedita left. She also got married. And she moved to an Airforce base. It might feel like her career had reached a full stop, but actually it was only the end of the first chapter.
Nivedita missed HyperVerge - she had made some really good friends there. And HyperVerge missed Nivedita too, and that led to WFH v1.
“KV* called me up saying that HV is onto something very interesting and he agreed to start a WFH experiment with me. Initially, it was hard. Scheduling was a challenge and took some time to get adjusted to it. I had to over-communicate about every small decision that I took. The first 2 months were difficult. But it’s no rocket science.”
Nivedita worked with two of HyperVerge’s biggest clients - FE Credit, Vietnam’s largest consumer lender with more than 50% market share and JIO, the world’s largest telecom company. Nivedita’s code rests in the HyperVerge SDK that these companies use for on-boarding new customers.
Because of circumstance, and over many years, Nivedita had learnt to respect time, and had become an efficient and fast coder. This helped her immensely as both these projects were completed in record time. Client change requests were implemented in hours. But this doesn’t mean she’s a hacky coder. On the contrary, her code is built to last.
The stakes were about to be raised, and her discipline was about to be tested. She was about to become a mother.
Nivedita’s maternity leave extended from July to December 2019 and she describes it as the most joyful period of her life.
“Work-wise, I was pretty much updated with whatever changes happened over those few months. I never felt I had missed anything. Sai** mentioned to me that he understands that if I get stressed then Sahaana (my daughter) will too. It’s not that I was given any special treatment, just that I was provided with equal opportunities to grow as my peers.”
But taking care of a toddler is a full time job in itself. Nivedita had to rework her schedules. She learnt that long undisturbed stretches of time for deep work were available to her only late at night after her baby slept.
She also learnt that she will have to let go of projects that have very tight deadlines, however enticing and glamorous they may be.
“I have to also take care of the fact that there is someone at home who is looking up to me and I am indispensable because there are things that my husband won’t be able to do. So, sometimes my daughter takes the centre state and sometimes it is all about my work. I have to integrate balance. And HyperVerge never let me feel pressurised under any circumstance. I didn’t have to go through the working mother guilt trip that comes with motherhood.”
In fiction writing, the rule of 3 is a recognisable conflict escalation strategy. In the first conflict, the hero has to rise to the occasion and fight the enemy. In the second, the enemy regroups and comes back with an army. In the third, the enemy really tests the hero. The hero almost dies. And then there’s a thrilling escape from death. But in this story, the third conflict - the lockdown imposed work from home - was a piece of cake for Nivedita.
And maybe so for many other mothers across the world, who routinely manage multiple roles, and live their lives in a high productivity move, accounting for every minute, and over-communicating all the time. #HappyMothersDay
Just after India recorded 100 cases of COVID-19 and just before the Junta curfew, HyperVerge decided to move to a 100% WFH model. Luckily, we knew who to ask for tips.
Nivedita works as an Android programmer with HyperVerge, and counts our finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman (“a simple woman from Trichy”) as her inspiration.
*KV (K Vignesh) is co-founder and CTO, HyperVerge
**Sai is co-founder, HyperVerge