Made in Chandigarh: Make Chandigarh an IT hub, says Dr Vasandani
The technocrat fondly remembers the excellent schooling and stress-free environment in the city, which he feels should make another leap.punjab Updated: Jun 29, 2018 22:37 IST
Name: Dr Vijay Vasandani
Designation: Chief Technology Officer at GoProcure, Inc.
I was born in Sindri, spent my formative years in Chandigarh and experienced the prime of my life in Atlanta. However, when asked where I am from, my response has always been “Chandigarh”.
I attended St. John’s High School in Sector 26 up to the 10th grade and then went to D.A.V. College for pre-engineering in Sector 10. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1983 from Punjab Engineering College. I have a Master’s and a Ph.D. degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
My Chandigarh Connect
My family moved to Chandigarh in 1970 when my father accepted the position of head of Mechanical Engineering Department at PEC. Soon after, we bought land in Sector 11 and I witnessed the construction of our house from close quarters.To this day, I cherish the precious memories of my bicycle ride from this house to St. John’s, often twice a day. I would start alone but quickly add friends to the bicycle convoy along the way through Sectors 10, 9 and 8. I also have fond recollections of proudly showing relatives and friends, who came to visit us, the crown jewels of the city - Rose Garden, Rock Garden, Sukhna Lake and the shopping centre of Sector 17.
Area of Expertise
For close to 30 years, I have been associated with the software industry, developing and implementing solutions for product lifecycle management and procurement. Starting from my days as a software architect at IBM, I have promoted the use of cutting edge technology in enterprise software. As CEO of my own services company, I helped my customers identify, evaluate and deploy solutions to cost-effectively transform their vision into reality, become more efficient, profitable, competitive and leaders in innovation. I have also served on advisory panels, counseling startups on how to effectively use emerging technologies in areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotic process automation and blockchain in their applications.
My Secret Sauce
It is my passion to develop and deliver solutions that bring measurable benefits to the consumers and provide users with an extraordinary experience. I believe this passion comes from being a problem solver, who easily perceives issues from an end user perspective and empathises with them. I have been fortunate enough to work with multiple Fortune 500 companies in a wide variety of domains where my problem-solving acumen has contributed more to the success of the project than the domain knowledge of experts on my team.
The Turning Point
There have been two distinct turning points that have changed or influenced the direction of my life. The first was in 1983, on a rope ladder, 50 feet above the ground in a BPCL refinery, trying hard to conceal my fear of heights from the construction crew, diligently executing my responsibility as a rookie engineer in Engineering India Ltd, to sign off completion of a paint job and impress my superiors. It made me ponder if that’s what I really wanted to do in life. I decided not, and headed to the US to pursue a career in software engineering. The second was in 1994 when I discovered the pleasure of having a delighted customer. It brought out the entrepreneur in me and made me leave IBM to build a company of repute that partnered with IBM and Dassault Systems’ to serve their customers worldwide.
What I Owe to Chandigarh
I owe a good part of my success to Chandigarh. The city played an important role in making me the person I am. The schools and institutes of this city provided me with excellent education. The city gave my parents a stress-free environment to raise a family without the hassles of daily commute in crowded buses,saving us all a lot of precious time to pursue our interests, hobbies as well as opportunities to bond with family and friends.
Things I Like to do When I Visit Chandigarh
For a long time, I did not get a chance to visit Chandigarh. It was not until 2006 that I brought my family to this city. Since then, I have come back often. Thanks to social media, which reconnected me to my friends still living in Chandigarh, I have enjoyed coming back to the city to be with them and relive my childhood memories. I have knocked on the door of my Sector 11 house and received a warm welcome from the owners, been to my school and college and had the honor of meeting my aged professors. I even drove up to Dali to savor the gourmet ‘aachar’.
How has the city changed
At first, it was hard to recognise the city I was so familiar with. I had, of course, expected to see new construction and population growth but what I saw was a change of enormous magnitude. It seemed like every house in the city had added a floor or two. The roads that rarely had cars on them were filled with all kinds of vehicles. Where tourists had a limited choice of one Mountview hotel, they now can choose from multiple hotels, including a handful of luxury ones. From a professional perspective, the change in Chandigarh spans from hardly any corporate presence in the 1980s to a well-equipped Technology Park today that has attracted over 50 of India’s largest IT companies.
Change I want to see in the city
I would like Chandigarh to be a prominent hub for technology development since it still offers a good quality of life and has the potential to attract talent. However, the city seems to lack the infrastructure for a robust, sustainable, and reliable communication network. The city should take the lead in becoming the premier “Smart City” of the country just as it had taken the lead in 1960s to become the “City Beautiful”. Imagine how awesome it would be to have high speed and scalable Wifi network connecting us all for free from anywhere in the city!
The best advice I ever got
I was once told “When making difficult decisions in life, go with your instincts but be prepared to make amends quickly should you discover you made a bad decision”. With experience, I have come to realise that being indecisive has a worse outcome than a bad decision that can still be rectified with timely intervention.
My advice to youngsters in my field
Discover your passion andmake a career out of it. Then, pursue your passion aggressively. You can’t control your destiny but you sure can control what you do when you get up from bed every morning. Always live to work so you don’t have to ever work to live!
First Published: Jun 29, 2018 14:02 IST