A few days ago, I posted a blog post titled The Most Balanced Piece I Could Write About the Stupidity of Ageism. It received an amazing resonance, thousands of views, dozens of comments and literally hundreds of replies and comments on twitter and Facebook, all within the first twenty-four hours of being online. I’m especially thankful for the high engagement ratio, with people actually signing up to SAP Community Network just in order to leave comments.
The formidable Abesh Bhattacharjee then suggested that he, Michael Bechauf, Dipankar Saha, Mrinal Wadhwa, and I record a podcast. We all loved the idea and got together for a session. Michael provided the infrastructure, Abesh did the audio editing, I moderated and am now posting it.
Find the podcast here, enabled for streaming and as a downloadable MP3 file and complete with a navigable index: http://soundcloud.com/thorstenster/ageism-in-the-software
00:00 Welcome and Introductions
05:09 Framing the discussion: being a techie and age
06:33 Michael on seeing familiar patterns, mistakes and risk-averseness
09:05 Mrinal and Michael on experience-based intuition and patterns, using SOAP and REST as an example
12:00 Thorsten comparing it to the intuition of a chess player
15:10 Abesh on how learning through failure cuts off options that don’t work, narrows down choices
16:23 Dipankar on the IT industry in India with its focus on the offshore delivery model that makes Indian employees go after managerial roles
21:42 Michael on how the transition from services and consulting towards product development leads to engineers being valued more
23:10 Mrinal on how startups promote the transformation towards product delivery, change the skills and value landscape
25:38 Michael emphasizes sustainability and how in Silicon Valley, success comes not only from being technically savvy, but also from handling business ambiguity very well
27:45 Mrinal asking if India is creating enough people with deep experience for the challenges of the changing industry
28:52 Thorsten suggesting that the broadening industry offers dream jobs to different character types, so they needn’t flee into managerial positions
32:16 Mrinal looks at the flip side, is there a top-down culture change going on?
33:36 Dipankar mentions the price tag and that the change affects product companies stronger than offshore services companies
34:44 Michael shares how Silicon Valley over-emphasizes fast-paced builders, marking the opposite side of the spectrum from the classical Indian IT industry
37:26 Thorsten: Isn’t it great to be 35 and already have a failed career to learn from?
37:40 Abesh speaking from the bottom of a well
38:52 Abesh on the social notion that if you’re not a manager by 35, you have squandered your life
40:25 Michael on how SAP tries to keep the balance, value different job roles
41:43 Thorsten on balancing the different aspects in a single position, shoutout to Vijay Vijayasankar
43:50 Michael: Age does play a role, and the times they are a-changing: speed of innovation, collaboration across organizational boundaries, it’s hard to stay abreast of technology
46:00 Abesh and Michael on Hasso Plattner as the ultimate rockstar
47:13 Mrinal, Michael, Thorsten on the question if a twenty-years old delivers more value than a thirty-five-years old (no)
48:03 Dipankar begs to differ, mentioning that the young employees come cheaper; value is perception-based, could be focused on money or quality
49:11 Mrinal on the monetary value of experience
50:26 Thorsten asks how many screwdrivers equal one hammer, explains that with their different profile, young and old professionals are like different tools you should have in your toolchest
52:18 Michael recommends to get out of on assembly-line situations
52:50 Mrinal says that the situation in India is comparable to an assembly line, it has worked well for the country but the country needs to evolve
53:33 Thorsten quotes Arthur C. Clarke’s “Clarke’s Three Laws”, wraps up
(Thanks to Marilyn Pratt for teaching me the importance of writing up the talking points.)