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Life At Veritas Interview with Neelakandan Panchaksharam: Building Great Products for our Customers

Community Manager
Community Manager

Hello VOX Readers, I hope everyone is staying safe and well during the pandemic. Last week, I caught up with Anuradha Joshi. Did you see her #LifeAtVeritas interview? Today I’d like to introduce my latest employee interview with Neelakandan Panchaksharam, Vice President of Engineering based in our Pune, India office. During his interview, Neelakandan shares insights into why he chose a career in IT engineering and guidance for those starting their careers. He also imparts insights into what it is like working at Veritas and how he manages and motivates his teams remotely during this pandemic. Read Neelakandan’s interview below.

Meet Neelakandan PanchaksharamMeet Neelakandan PanchaksharamZoe: Welcome Neelakandan, thank you for agreeing to participate in the #LifeAtVeritas blog series. What made you choose a career in IT?
Neelakandan: Thanks, Zoe, for the opportunity to participate. Right from my school days, I loved maths and problem-solving. So, when I had to choose my specialisation in Engineering, I picked Computer Science though at that time the IT industry was just emerging. I then went on to do a Masters degree in Computer Science at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai, where I developed more of an interest in Computer Networks and submitted my thesis on Internet routing protocols. I had the option to pursue a Ph.D. at one of the US universities, but instead, I chose to join the IT industry.

Zoe: Thank you, Neelakandan, can share a summary of a day in the life of an Engineer?
Neelakandan: Engineering at Veritas is all about building great products and features, making it easier for our customers to get their jobs done and meet their IT objectives. Our engineers have the fire in the belly to build and deliver the best solutions, collaborating within and across teams, continuously learning relevant technologies, and tuning the best practices.

Zoe: What career advice would you give to those trying to secure their first IT role? Are you recruiting at the moment?
Neelakandan: IT continues to be a rewarding industry with a lot of growth opportunities. Stepping into your first IT job is a big and exciting moment. Aspiring candidates should prepare by understanding the different job functions and learning the relevant technologies and industry best practices. On the job, the new employees should understand the project goals and stretch themselves to go beyond assigned responsibilities.

Yes, we are recruiting. There are 100+ open positions in Pune across product engineering and business functions, with many more vacancies worldwide.

Zoe: In your opinion, what leadership traits make a good leader? And what’s your leadership style?
Neelakandan: Integrity is critical for engaging the entire organisation behind the vision and execution. A leader should also be able to clearly articulate the vision and why we would win. My leadership style is of a collaborative and supportive nature. I collaborate with the stakeholders to create alignment on the key priorities and then support and guide the teams going after the stretch goals.

Zoe: To some extent, we have been influenced by others in our personal and work lives. Who are your role models and influencers?
Neelakandan: I have had the privilege of working with incredible talent over the years and was influenced by many of them. The journey of learning and appreciation continues though. Every day, I am influenced and inspired by the great things that happen around us  – whether it is the elegance of Mother Nature, the perseverance and optimism of a common man, remarkable work done by my colleagues, friends, family members, or well-known personalities.

Zoe: How do you define success? And how do you build successful teams across your region?
Neelakandan: To me, success means working together as a team to make a positive impact, big or small. Hiring people with the right behavioural skills, in addition to the functional skills, is a fundamental part of building a successful team. It is a key responsibility of the leaders and managers to act as role models and to provide feedback and support to the team, as needed.

Neelakandan (front centre blue shirt) with his teamNeelakandan (front centre blue shirt) with his teamZoe: What motivates you? And how do you motivate remote teams across India? Especially in these uncertain times.
Neelakandan: I am motivated by the opportunities to work with great talent, to learn, and to grow our business. Staying motivated is always important, but the pandemic has made it more challenging. For example, there is a lot of anxiety, and people around the world are facing challenges they had not faced before in their lifetime. At Veritas, we emphasise that the health and safety of our employees and their families are the highest priority. We have made several training resources available to educate our employees about the pandemic and good physical and emotional health. The teams stay in touch via regular virtual interactions such as daily stand up meetings and Friday evening tea parties. As the teams see the collective progress via sprint demos and milestones reached, they are excited about how we can deal with the challenges of the pandemic and deliver on our goals.

Zoe: Neelakandan, why should people choose to work at Veritas?
Neelakandan: Here at Veritas, you get to solve interesting problems in the data management space. You can see that the solutions you built are being used by many of the leading companies around the world. With heterogeneity being a core tenet of the Veritas value proposition, there are opportunities to work on a variety of operating systems, storage, virtualisation and container technologies, public clouds, and applications.

Talking specifically about our presence in Pune, India, we recently celebrated our 25th anniversary. Today, Pune is the largest centre for Veritas worldwide, with many employees who have been with the company for 20+ years, some of them having joined directly from one of the IIT’s and working as Development Directors or Distinguished Engineers. In this setup, you get significant ownership, and you can focus on innovation rather than cross-geo issues, which product companies often face when establishing an offshore presence. It is hard to match Veritas’ innovation culture and the opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with industry-leading technical experts.

Zoe: What’s your favourite Veritas solution or product?
Neelakandan: I am really proud of all our products, but InfoScale and Enterprise are my favourites. InfoScale has some of the best intellectual property and makes a big difference to the performance and availability of mission-critical applications in the market. Recently InfoScale has introduced support for Kubernetes containers, extending the proven flexibility, performance, and availability benefits to this emerging platform. Also, it is the first Veritas product I worked on as an engineer.

Enterprise is the biggest Software as a Service (SaaS) offering from Veritas, and it is one of the products I am currently responsible for. Hosted on Microsoft Azure, it solves the compliance and eDiscovery needs of our customers. It is optimised to give the best performance while keeping the cloud infrastructure cost low. Our team not only develops features but also has built push-button automation using the latest and greatest tools to take care of the entire lifecycle from deployment, to monitoring and patching/upgrades.

Neelakandan (right hand side podium) starting the VRun Race, Pune, IndiaNeelakandan (right hand side podium) starting the VRun Race, Pune, IndiaZoe: Neelakandan, what do you like to do in your free time?
Neelakandan: Even with my demanding work schedule, it is important to take care of my health. So, I do set aside some time in the morning for running or other physical exercises. I also like reading books, especially in the areas of health, business, and leadership.

Zoe: Finally, what technology can’t you live without?
Neelakandan: I am not tied to gadgets or technologies, but the Internet has so much become part of my daily life, it would be hard to live without it.

If you enjoyed this Life at Veritas blog post with Neelakandan Panchaksharam, then do stay tuned as there will be more interview-style posts from other people at Veritas. And if this has inspired you to join our team, check out our job vacancies on LinkedIn, and apply here.