S-miles to go before you sleep!

Manjula Kandula

By Manjula Kandula

A prospective recruiter once asked me: if there was anything in your career that you would have done differently, what would it be?

I did answer his question in a modest way at that time, but now, years later, I have found a revised version to my answer.

Right from my school days, writing was my first love. This love got reinforced every time my class teacher pinned up my essays on the school bulletin board.

I also loved biochemistry. The gene-protein mumbo jumbo simply fascinated me. So that’s how I ended up getting a PhD in Biochemistry from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

Did this seal my fate? Not quite. Life has its own twists and turns, I learned.

As a post-doctoral fellow in the same lab, the long-drawn and arduous lab experiments were taking a toll on my precious time with my young baby girl. I soon decided that it was time to hang up my lab coat permanently and take up science writing in a big way. A combination of both my passions would surely keep my spirits soaring, I reckoned.

After successfully publishing several science articles in popular newspapers and journals, I joined a leading newspaper house as science editor. This proved to be a great opportunity for me to communicate science to the common man. I treated readers to stories on how gene engineering could create square tomatoes and black roses. I dotted my stories with effective graphics and suitable analogies. Noting my enthusiasm to learn, churn and narrate, my editor asked me to add a section on Information Technology to the science page. This offered me great exposure to the IT arena.

Years later, I was offered for the role of a technical editor at Digital India. I weighed out the pros and cons of making yet another career move, this time out of the Press and into straight into the IT world. The sheer challenge of understanding Information technology and the generous number drawn out on my paycheck decided my calling.

From then on, I’ve stuck to IT as editor, writer and manager. I’ve managed small to medium-sized teams at HP, Sun Microsystems and VMware. Last year, I joined Ariba Inc. as documentation manager and am learning a lot in agile methodology.

For several years, I also taught communication skills to MS and MBA students at the Indian Institute of Science.
So, if there was anything in my life that I would have done differently, what would it be? The short answer is: Nothing.

Life expects you to make the best of good opportunities that come your way. I was doing precisely that, all along!
So my advice to young ‘uns is: Follow your heart. You’ve got s-miles to go before you sleep!


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