12 September 2018

The year is coming to an end!

The year is coming to an end!!
It was almost a year back that on Oct 1, I commenced my year off from work to explore life. For the fourth time. Every time has been better than the previous time. The structure is always the same – do a few new things for myself, do a few things with the family and do a few things for the community.

The report card for the whole year, looking back, has a few hits and a few misses.

The following are of the category “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

🙂 Learnt how to motorbike!! At the age of 52!! Have already posted nearly 4,500 miles (7,200km) under my belt. A long ways to go to be super confident (those dratted right turns around mountain corners 🙂 ) but I will get there some day, I hope!

🙂 That amazing Mongolia trip with Roger. It is a hard life they live but what a once-in-a-lifetime experience!! Those blank boarding passes, the sleeping in a new “ger” (nomad’s tent) every night, the alcohol made from mare’s milk, the sanddune-as-your-bathroom routine, the eagle on your hand, the experience of vast nothingness…. I do not think too many things can top that for me.

🙂 Some of the best family times – those international trips to countries we visited for the first time – Indonesia, Thailand, Aruba, Cancun (Mexico). Those 10 days of completely destination-less road trip with Sharmila. That Hilton Head beach vacation for just the two of us! Those trips to see Natasha in New York!

🙂 That character-building experience of spending a year in hospice units. Especially the memory care unit. Watching palliative care unit patients come in and then go away. Setting a perspective in life. And making every moment with them so momentous

🙂 Tried to push the minimalism curve. The closet now has literally one third of the clothes I used to have. The shoe closet? Reduced 90%!! (Have to admit – I am one step away from my dry cleaner missing their promised date from having a wardrobe disaster!)

The following belong to “It is all about human relationships” category

🙂 Continued with that old habit of running from my second time of year off. Ran in over half a dozen countries. Ran into a hostel mate in Cancun. But the best part? Running with Nikita – the latest runner in our family. She is faster than me. My slow speed never bothered her as much as my insistence on taking a picture together did!

🙂 Speaking of proud moments with daughter, watching Natasha grow up. Just in the last six months, she went to Germany and then Czech Republic by herself. And then went to Ghana. She is there now even as we speak for the next six months. To put this in perspective, first time I got a passport was when I was 10 years older than she is. And nobody in our entire family has ever set their foot on to that dark continent called Africa. Now she has!

🙂 Met so many unique people – remember finding that domestic help from the seventies in that remote village? or finding that farmer – who came in a ragged jacket – no less – who would put me up on his shoulder so that I could pick a tamarind or a mango from the trees in our village when I was not even five years old? finding Steve Martin’s birth place and sending a picture of that house to his mom? so many parents of my friends that I grew up with… that young entrepreneur from Colombia, those security guards and Uber drivers from Ghana and Burkina Faso… what a tapestry of people weaved my life!

And then there was the category of “Keep up with the habits”

🙂 Kept up with the learning cycles – new puzzles, new words, new word origins and lately everything about Africa!

🙂 Finished writing about 42 different gins from 1 different countries. Way too many cocktails. And now on to learning everything about mezcals. Read 6 different books on these subjects.

🙂 Almost completed finding all my elementary, middle school and high school teachers and visiting them. The last one was during Sharmila and my aimless road drive.

🙂 Got lot more disciplined on food and sleep habits.

🙂 Called 3000 people to wish them happy birthday!

🙂 Called my mom and brother daily!

🙂 Played tabla – mostly to our dog Jay Jay, who is not exactly known for his high standards in music!!

🙂 Now, have readers from 132 countries reading my blog!

But there were things I wish I had done better

(o) I ran a lot but not how much I used to run before. Frankly, for the third time in my running career, I find I need some inspiration or goal to push myself.

(o) I never could get myself into mediation. I wanted to. I gave the time. But I have not yet learnt the trick how to control my mind.

(o) I helped a few Year Up students and mentored them. I wish I could spend more time with them. I know they wanted to. And that is a regret I will have.

(o) Similarly, five budding entrepreneurs let me advise them as they built their companies. But I could not spend as much time as I wanted to. Or, as I understand, they wanted me to either. That is another regret I will have.

Nothing was more frustrating than the ones that I missed miserably

🙁 I always wanted to take Sharmila and Nikita for a couple of boat rides in local lakes this summer. Never got even one of them done.

🙁 I tried my best to see how to be a teacher in a high school or an university. I was even willing to do it for free. In spite of my best intentions and a lot of effort, I came to the conclusion that the bureaucracy of the process to do so was so high that I will never be able to get myself there.

🙁 And then there were the life changing events of my dad having a brain stroke and losing his right side of the body and then fighting back to get most of it back. Only to see my very healthy father in law who I was close to move on from this world.

Something good from my failures did come at the end though…

I was very frustrated that I could not get myself in a position to teach high school kids. I wanted to teach Math and Physics.

But I have been able to take that failure and pivot it to the next best thing. I will now be able to combine my wanting to help K-12 kids in school and a little professional ability to run businesses as I move to my next career move. I will join my new set of team mates who are focused not only helping the common student but also in identifying the specially talented ones as well as the ones who have special needs so that every one can have the best education and life for themselves.

Further, my new team mates are focusing on helping detect early signs of dementia, Alzheimer’s and other mental degeneration … you know like the ones I was spending my hospice hours with.

The year off could not have gotten any better!

The year off could not have ended any better either!!

Please accept my sincere gratitude to all of you who have spent time with me in the last year or encouraged me in my journey in large and small ways (you will be surprised how small things like encouraging comments in Facebook or my blog mean a big thing to me when I read them later).

And wish me luck as I start another new chapter in life with another incredible team.


2 September 2017

Voyager Atlanta Press Interview

See the article here: http://voyageatl.com/interview/meet-rajib-roy-quantum-spatial-norcross/

Here is the text and screen shots:
Today we’d like to introduce you to Rajib Roy.

Rajib, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
“Contrarian” is probably the best way to describe my journey. Both in my personal and professional life, I have a natural tendency to do what others would probably not do. I have started to appreciate the fact that I am where I am today because of the willingness to think differently and step out of the normal path.

Most people think of professional growth as moving along a curve of ever growing responsible roles. I think it has been appropriate for me to step off from work every four to six years and go explore some life passions and learn some new skills. (Stand-up comedy, running marathons, mixology is some of the things I have taken off time to learn and do).

Common sense would dictate that one should stay steady in one industry and gain experience in both domain knowledge and understanding of how an industry works. But for me, four of my jobs have been in different industries – banking, supply chain software for manufacturing, consumer data (credit bureau) and geospatial data analytics. This has allowed me sometimes to copy certain industry practice from one domain and bring in to another domain where the practice is a foreign concept.

Similarly, instead of trying to stay in one function and excel over time, my career has included running global development organizations, then switching to running global services organizations, then move to running sales and marketing organizations – which led me to eventually hold general management positions.

As I reflect back on my life, I realize that I like being different from others. I value thinking independently of what I want to do and I am willing to step up to be the contrarian in the room and that has shaped me to be who I am today.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The challenge is recognizing that thinking differently almost always leads to a challenging path where you are going to go against the grain of common thought. There are risks attached to it. All human beings want to be leaders. Except very few recognize that it means you have to step aside from the crowd. That is difficult. There is very little risk in following the crowd.

Finding those opportunities during the pivotal moments – changing industry, trying to jump back to a job after a year of discovering and understanding what real life is all about – they were not easy. Looking for “experience” during a job search is easy.

Recognizing that experience does not linearly transport to different environments and therefore one has to look for more fundamental strengths are both difficult to do and highly subjective calls.

But sometimes I had to adapt and reset my expectations and sometimes – twice, in fact, I happened to find two leaders who were willing to take a chance on me. In both those cases, I am not sure what they found in me– but undoubtedly those were the two opportunities where I achieved the most for business.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Quantum Spatial – what should we know?
Quantum Spatial is in the very exciting field of Geospatial Data Analytics. Think of Google maps on steroids. Think of enterprise solutions for large customers instead of a small app on your phone. Think about the simple fact –everything happens somewhere. We are all about helping customers understand that somewhere and then help them form more informed decisions based on that locational knowledge.

We work on Lidar data (low grade laser that helps us understand the height information of the world – think about how the cops catch a speeding car), imagery data (think about your camera), infrared data (think about “seeing” temperature footprints), hyperspectral data, and bathy lidar data (think about seeing “thru” water). All of this data is most often captured by satellites, planes, helicopters, drones, road vehicles and robots.

We take all these massive amount of Big Data and then churn through our intellectual property based software and analytics and help customers get quickly to questions that are crucial to their businesses, such as:

•“Where might a fire start in the forests up in the mountains because there is a tree dying that is very close to live transmission line?”

• “What pressure of oil should we be sending thru an oil pipeline so as to minimize damage to encroachments and inhabitation pattern changes in case of an accident?”

• “What is the true extent of damage and erosion in land and in water after a natural disaster? And where should we now start rebuilding the infrastructure from?”

• Are there some early signs that point to a volcano possibly getting ready to erupt?

• Are there any damages happening to infrastructure like water tanks, electricity substation that is not visible to the naked eye but can cause massive disruption and potential loss of lives?

Our differentiation in the market is in the intellectual property we have built in our products and the intellect and domain knowledge of our people. That is what I am most proud of. Being the largest company in our sub-industry, we have nobody ahead of us setting the goalposts. We have to do it for ourselves. That is not very easy. But I am really proud of the focus we have had on our talent and developing them at all levels – individual contributors to leaders – which has enabled us to not fall back on our laurels. If anything, our people have speeded up the transformation in our industry by rapidly improvising and innovating.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
At my level, my personal success and our company success are synonymous. In either case, I feel success is rooted in three organization cultures or individual qualities:

• Focus on Execution: Unless we are able to “say what we do and do what we say,” the best of plans and strategies mean nothing. This is the first building block.

• Customer Intimacy: Understanding deeply what it means to our customers that we do is much harder than most will admit. And yet, being able to understand a customer’s business intimately is the key to evaluating daily if we are working on the right things.

• Culture of diversity and meritocracy: Promoting an environment where talent from all walks of life come together enriches the different ways one can think of the same problem which then lets us offer solutions that others will not be capable of thinking.

We value ideas and idea originators based on the merit of the idea and not the rank or position of the person it came from.