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Why can't I code?

 
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I was chatting with old friend yesterday. In all these 7+ years, he has tried several roles including pre-sales and all that stuff. Not a problem - but he was surprized to know that I was still coding and asked me why don't you switch to another company and become PM. As if it was the only sensible way. Why should it be so strange???

I love to code and hence I am a programmmer and though I might take up other roles in my career; I'd still like to be associated with coding/development in some way till the day I die. I like that path and that's my own genuine interest & choice. Why should it surprising for others? In India often if you're coding after 5 years experience or so, you're looked as if you can't e a PM. I have had more than enough opportunities to do so - and though I sort of lead a team, I do not wish to be a typical MS office user a.k.a. PM. I wonder why can't I simply code - especially when I am doing it happily?? Why can't I grow into architect position or something more profound by this path?

Are there any ranchers here who consciously stayed in touch with technology & progarmming out of choice. even after several years of expereince instead of taking the beaten PM path?? Not that I am looking down upon management role - but maybe for me coding is more interesting!! Why should that role be looked down upon after few years?

Any inputs highly appreciated!

TIA,
- Manish
 
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I am busy coding.
 
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Originally posted by Pradip Bhat:
I am busy coding.



ditto
 
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There are those that are profoundly unhappy with the technology field. They constantly complain about having to chase the technology while simultaneously complaining about how it is always the same thing day in and day out. Not sure how those two things go together, but those are the common complaints.

I think these people likely got into technology because they heard the money was good or perhaps they thought the technology field would be something that it was not.

While I love the technology field and I'm quick to acknowledge that technologists generally make good salaries, compared to most other industries, there are easier jobs that pay just as well. There is nothing wrong with loving the technology field, but I think people who aren't so in love with it want validation for leaving it. Thus they act surprised when they meet people who genuinely enjoy it.

I personally don't want to be a coder my entire career, but I do love the technology side of the business. My goal is to move into an area where I can be less hands on but still involved. Such roles do exist. I want to be in management someday, but I don't want to simply drop everything and follow that path. I personally can't imagine being completely hands off right now, nor would I want to do it all at once.

I wouldn't get discouraged by these people. I would see it as a bit of a wake up call though. A lot of technologists never ask the questions "Where is my career going? Where do I want to end up?". The next thing you know, you're in a dead end position with out of date skills and no training opportunities.

However, when you do ask yourself those career questions, there is nothing wrong with trying to find a path that allows you to keep doing what you love. I don't see a career as being "up and out", what I do see it as is being happy while providing for your needs, both long and short term.
 
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You can certainly keep coding. Do what you like. Technology does keep changing and I guess one day you cant keep up when you are old. You might have to consider moving to a different position at some point of time. But if you can keep pace with the change - good for you
 
Manish Hatwalne
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Got it Jason!!!

I am more than involved with other sides..including business side. And it would be a huge mistake to ovelook how business problems are solved by technology. However, as a personal preference, I'd love to be associated with coding in some capacity.

My grumble is more about belittling a coder by so called management people who just want to be PM for fat salaries and oten coding is just stop-gap compromise for them.

- Manish
 
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Quite a few years ago, someone observed to me that a primary difference between professional athletics and business was that in business, the "success points" - which is to say salary and other perks - are expected to be tied to one's position on the managerial ladder rather than on skills.

While in sports -- and for that matter, entertainment -- it wouldn't be surprising to see a star performer making more than management, in business, it's almost unthinkable. Management sets salaries. Most of us don't have an adoring fan base that we can use to leverage against. Or a CEO-style mutual back-scratching system. Ergo, management sets their own salaries higher than our salaries. After all, they can fire us, but not vice versa.

While it's been adequate for several hundred years, this model has always had its flaws. The "Peter Principle" is the most famous. Ambitious people will percolate up to the level at which they're incompetent, since the skillsets for good managers are different than for good coders, which are different from good executive skills.

Bad as this may be in the private sector, governments have it even worse. With stratified systems like the US Federal GS ratings, they've had to struggle with how to deal with junior programmers who'd have to posess the same GS rating as a senior military officer in order to qualify for pay that could compete with what they'd make in the private sector.

I've seen quite a number of people over the years impacted by this phenomenon. Good programmers who made bad managers, good managers who'd rather be programmers, etc. In the US, one way off that treadmill is if you can become an independent contractor. However, to be a successful contractor you need skills I don't have in order to find and land contracts. Not only don't I have those skills, time spent using them would be time not using my primary skills.

Some attempts have been made to try guild/union-style organizations or agency systems, but these, too have their problems. We're still struggling for a better solution.
 
Manish Hatwalne
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Tim, I agree what you say holds valid in typical corporate setup when you're an employee. However, I am out of that corporate rut and more growing towards being a consultant.

I think technical people have vertical career path as well similar to management. Having exposure to diverse technologies forseveral years, they can definitely contribute to designing of a system, contribute as architect at higher levels and can contribute to several projects simultaneously in terms of design and technical issue resolving. I cannot speak for US companies, for I have US boss who stiil codes despite having nearly 20 years technical expereince and I love him. However, in India people grow away from coding much earlier and become managers with MS Excel, MS porject and Outlook only because managers are paid higher. It's high time that a tech lead is traeted at par with PM in the project.

Higher management is a different ballgame altogether. And I admit it is just not my cup of tea but iyt has its own challenges, moments of bliss & rewards. But that is still not in the frame for me...

- Manish
 
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Yeah I think thats the problem with the persception that IT salaries are so good. Lots of people who don't want to do any coding, or have any real technology knowledge are flooding in. Creating things like PMPs (Project Management Professional). They have a year maybe two experience at it, but somehow they should make more then seasoned developers.

I think the need to rename Project Management to something it really is. Maybe Project Administration. They don't manage me, they attempt to keep the project on track (most of the time I think they just waste a bunch of time in order to look important).

But the assumption that a PM should make more than a coder, to me is just silly. They are very different jobs, I have no desire to track project changes, or call a bunch of meetings, or generate tons of paperwork.

I'll keep writing code and probably stay a contractor (I used to work full time salary and the politics are a nightmare) for quite some time.

Manish - why is this any different than the US? Architect or PM or whatever else pays more. However more money only goes so far. I'd have to get one heck of a raise to do MS Project, Word, Outlook, etc all day long. I also feel Architects are a large part of the problem. I seem to meet alot of Architects that don't know their stuff at all. They talk at such a high level avoiding the details at all cost (but the details come and bite you hard later), the PMs love to talk to these people as they don't get lost in techno talk. However so much gets left out and the mistakes and bad assumptions get pushed down to the developer to sort out architectual issues.
[ November 21, 2006: Message edited by: Tim LeMaster ]
 
Manish Hatwalne
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I think in other words, it is just continuation from what I had asked her earlier -
https://coderanch.com/t/31083/Jobs/careers/next

Wondering how do I plan my career now. My long term goal is to be independent, with more time for other things and stay away from typical corporate politics. Would love to be a consultant & writer. How do I move?

- Manish
 
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Hi Manish ,
I too have been thinking on same lines & I feel better technical oppurtunities exist in USA than in India & also you make quick moneya, after making decent money you can evaluate your options again.

I think being financially secure empowers you to take a career path of your choice than out of compulsion & be respected for that,especially in indian context.

regards,
Vibhav
 
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Manish Hatwalne,
If you like it just do it!
Dont care about what others think!

If you get satisfaction from what you are doing you can ignore the rest of the world!
Also there are great opportunities for technically good people like being an architect.

Congrats buddy for thinking against the lot!



[ November 21, 2006: Message edited by: Rohit Nath ]
 
Deepak Bala
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Ahh yes ! I feel the same so many times. A manager that works with the excel sheet, MS word, writes email all day, prepares status excels, is paid more than me - the coder that designs the solution. I do accept that the managers job can be tough when you have to push people to get the code delivered on time, but, if the coder is given more responsibility and the work becomes his/her brain child the code will automatically be delivered on time.

My main motivation to get things done on time is to see something new getting added into the system and the fact that some one might be using it within the next week or so. We only need one layer of seperation between the client and the coder. The coder does the work, gives the finished product to a middle layer. This middle layer tests our stuff to find if the work is on the dot and if it is, the product is passed on to the client. This middle layer is certainly not a project manager. The chaos can turn into a fiasco when you assign a project manager that knows VB or .NET to a Java / Mainframe project. A project manager is only as good as his/her team.

My argument is not that we dont need managers. The role of the manager should be different and so should be the pay. Dont even get me started on the " More experience draws more salary " flaw and " More experience means more knowledge " flaw. Perhaps these should feature in another thread
 
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The Indian software is grown in that angle. Especially earlier to 2000 people used to become Project Lead/Module Lead after 3 to 4 years experience and Project Manager after 6 years experience because of demand and supply problem.
But now the industry is getting more matured and people are in postion to choose their paths. They have choice to grow in technical area or management area. But still some people are in the mind set like after 6 to 8 years experience you should become PM. We should forget their comments and should concentrate to grow in our interested areas. Now days many MNCs and product based companies have options to grow technically or in management.
 
Manish Hatwalne
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I have no problems with managers. Let them do their won thing if they enjoy that. And not so concerned about money part either...

My objection is primarily to the belief (mosttly valid iin India) that if you're doing coding after 6-7 years - maybe you're just not good enough to be a mamanger and you're doing it because ther's no better alternative. Why can't I (anyone else for that matter) code because I enjoy it?

Secondly - there are not many growth opportunities available for core techies as compared to managers. I think the tech lead should be traeted at par with PM for technology solutions, issues. Just as manager can look into schedule, pricing & project coordination - a tech lead can decide about technical issues, design of the project. These two roles need to be at-par in terms of hierarchy. Often PM without knowledge of technology or technical issues cannot earn respect of the team members.

- Manish
 
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Hi Manish,

Firstly Thanks for taking up such a good topic here..
Your question -: "Are there any ranchers here who consciously stayed in touch with technology & progarmming out of choice. even after several years of expereince instead of taking the beaten PM path??"Just wanted Answer to that is -: Yes.. You can count me on..

After having 7-8 years in IT I still opt to code.. May be languages are different.. it was client server before .. now it is web based.. but I like to code & I am satisfied with that. I pray that my brain will be fresh enough to grasp new tech which comes up & I can achieve my satisfactions up to some level.
Even I had same questions which you had.. All my classmates today are sitting in a cabin doing manegerial job. I dont know whether they enjoy PM job or not as many of them crib a lot that they only have to deal with MS Word & Excel now.For sure I dont want to be a PM but even I want to know that can anybody take just a technical path for a life time?If yes then how? I def dont want to become a PM & then crib for not being in touch with tech..else I am fine with coding .. what I am doing

Thanks,
Amee
 
Rohit Nath
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These days most of the companies give clear option to go for either
1) Management OR
2) Architect

you just have to choose one option!
If one is more inclined in coding then taking up the architect route is the clear option!

Especially if you are in a startup organization everyone including the architect is actively involved in coding!
You can definately consider this option.

Thanks!
 
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Originally posted by Manish Hatwalne:
My objection is primarily to the belief (mosttly valid iin India) that if you're doing coding after 6-7 years - maybe you're just not good enough to be a mamanger and you're doing it because ther's no better alternative. Why can't I (anyone else for that matter) code because I enjoy it?



9 years and still coding... Because I love it. You are not alone.


Secondly - there are not many growth opportunities available for core techies as compared to managers. I think the tech lead should be traeted at par with PM for technology solutions, issues. Just as manager can look into schedule, pricing & project coordination - a tech lead can decide about technical issues, design of the project. These two roles need to be at-par in terms of hierarchy. Often PM without knowledge of technology or technical issues cannot earn respect of the team members.



It varies from organization to organization. In my company these two roles are at par. And here we have two seperate paths for technical and managerial roles.
 
Manish Hatwalne
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Originally posted by Nandu Jawale:


It varies from organization to organization. In my company these two roles are at par. And here we have two seperate paths for technical and managerial roles.



That's nice to know. Is that iN India? But most companies I have seen so far consider tech lead below PM. How does technical path progress in your organization?
 
Rohit Nath
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How does technical path progress in your organization?



As far as architecture path goes:
Trainee Engineer> Software Engineer> Senior Software Engineer> Technical Lead> Architect> Senior Architect.

Thanks!
 
Deepak Bala
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What is the time frame to reach the highest position (in that tree ) in your organization ?
 
Rohit Nath
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time frame to reach the highest position (in that tree )


There is no fixed time frame. If they find you are right for the technical architect position you can very well join into the architecture team which mostly does the POC (Proof of concept) tasks which other development team members then implement mostly by reference implimentation.
So there is a architecture team and the development team

If you show exceptional technical skills (not just "good" )
The time frame depends on:
1. exceptional technical expertise
2. Skill level to come up with number of solutions for a problem and then choose the most efficient solution.
3. The architect position is the source of most of the innovation. So you need to be able to innovate.
4. also on your ability to come up with quick solutions and be able to get things done yourself from the scratch.

So there is no definite path that if you are Tech Lead you will be a Architect!
I do know people with 6 years experience in Senior architects position. [Also number of years of experience has got to do nothing with position you are in. Its all how well you can take up responsibilities.]

Thanks!

[ November 23, 2006: Message edited by: Rohit Nath ]
 
Nandu Jawale
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Originally posted by Manish Hatwalne:
Is that iN India?



Yes in Pune.


But most companies I have seen so far consider tech lead below PM.



Rolewise it is sometimes. E.g. my project manager does my appraisals, sanctions my leaves etc. But salarywise and hierarchically we are at same level.


How does technical path progress in your organization?



Same as mentioned by Rohit with a difference of two more levels above Sr. Architect.
 
Manish Hatwalne
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Rohit, Nandu - could you please PM me the names of companies along with some details such expected salary for 7 years expereince and work culture?

- Manish
 
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Originally posted by Manish Hatwalne:
Rohit, Nandu - could you please PM me the names of companies along with some details such expected salary for 7 years expereince and work culture?

- Manish



Hey Manish this is the most common information that all developers want to know.

Kidding!!
 
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Me in a critical phase to choose between the two - technical or management path. My passion is coding and development. At the same time, management is
also in my interests. Isn't there a career that is a blend of both?
Dont want to be left behind in either.

Manish, true that being in development for many years at a stretch raises eyebrows. But I have seen the techies, me being one so far, often ponder about the credibility and capacities of a manager too.

Happy to be seeing the question I have been musing in my mind for quite sometime now being discussed in this forum. Thanks for bringing it up.

Neeraj.
 
Manish Hatwalne
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Originally posted by Chetan Parekh:


Hey Manish this is the most common information that all developers want to know.

Kidding!!



I would have loved to ask this question here, but I think current policies might not allow it.

Neeraj, I think most companies would love to have a manager who can also do coding. But with all that M$ XYZ and tons of communication - it's difficult to concentrate on coding. Communication is no easy task either - especially in such cases where you got be be factually correct/accurate most of the times!
 
Manish Hatwalne
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Thanks Nandu, Rohit - but I think I am in better position now from what you have shared! A big thanks nevertheless!

- Manish
 
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Nandu,Manish can yo PM me the names of the companies?I am more or less in the same boat.Tired of using Excel/timsheets.
 
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Management is just not timesheets and project plans, it�s also leadership, in fact a manager should be a leader first.
It takes more than a �manager� in the true sense to deliver a project, the person who wants to get into management needs to be able to lead, motivate, mentor, identify, plan, risk, communicate, interface so on an so forth.
The skills like plan, identify can be to a certain extent objective but skills like lead, mentor, motivate are soft skills but no less important. A company needs people who can not just deliver in the short term but also have skills for grooming people who can deliver.
A person who loves to teach and share knowledge is a good mentor, the person if good at analytical skills makes a good candidate for being a manager because the person will not only be able to analyze a situation but also groom people to do the same. People who do are good at analyzing situations and have a logical bent of mind but with lesser interest in soft skills do well by sticking to the Solutioning / Technical side of a stream.

The best person to know about yourself is you, ask the question to yourself do you like working with people or do you like working with problems and solutions. The stream to chose becomes self evident.

In my case the answer is, I like to work with people and problems both, so I guess I should have been a psychologist, but that is beside the point .

Becoming a PM maybe a beaten path, but trust me becoming a �Good PM� is a pretty challenging task in its own right.
 
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Hi Manish,


Why not volunteer doing a project by yourself as a test run in your company. The project should be small but something that is currently done by a project team of say 2-3 people being led by a so called PM. Sort of a programmer++ activity. In that way you can try an end to end project management experience. You do the analysis,design and development. Seek a mentor to help you in aspects you are not familiar with.

There are five cases we are testing in the company I work in. It is sort of doing a project by a 'generally' one-man team. Factors or situations that made us decide to try this is the presence of good IDEs with built-in code-generators, wizards, diagrammers, documenters and other tools which can help a signle person generate and manage far greater code or components compared to several years ago. Also, there is no reason why a programmer can't learn non-programming aspects of the process i.e. feasaibility studies, interviewing research, etc..

As a one-man team, it is 'generally' because resource persons still drop in frome time to time - like when one of the 'one-person-team' needed help in generating an NPV or DCFROI analysis.

The experiment have not yet been completed and results are mixed. The differences in results are currently being evaluated. One thing that was found out though is that there may be many projects which were thought by our superiors could only be assigned to a team can actually be done by one-man teams (developer cum project manager) sufficiently equipped and 'motivated'.

Furthermore, some company officers are beginning to think that this could be a way in for programmers to tread into the PM field without shedding their strong coding preference. And also to maximize PMs who only work on MS Excel/Word/Project...
 
Manish Hatwalne
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Well, I am already doing something similar for last few months.
 
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