Working for a Small Company

What is it like working at Infosys? … asked Nidhi, a very young and intelligent colleague of mine who just completed her engineering with flying colors and joined us at Quovantis barely a month back. She had an offer to join Infosys as well but chose to pass up that in favor of joining a small company. I’m sure it was not an easy decision for her.

I started my career with Infosys almost eight years back. It was fun. Then I moved on to another reasonably big company in Noida, though not as huge as Infosys. But, it was not until recently that I truly understood what I was missing by never having worked at a small company. If you’ve ever heard somebody say “love what you do” but could never really appreciate or relate-to the real meaning of that phrase, a small company is where you ought to be. I just love going to our modest office and feel proud about sitting around some very smart and passionate technology enthusiasts and construct some very interesting software products. Somehow, the value in what we do on daily basis is realized at a deeper level than it used to be. Expectations are higher at a smaller company just like the stakes. Unlike a big company often with oversized teams to handle projects, the margin of error is far less.

Big companies affect in a negative way at times. Most people who work as part of a big team in a big company have a tendency to fall into a dangerous comfort zone. Initially, they just ease into an innocuous mold performing their roles in earnest. Then they become important within the team because they have super knowledge of their product/project. Next, they stop exposing themselves to quality challenges. That’s pretty much it. That’s the comfort zone. Or, should I call it the comfort pit. It does not help to have similar people around trapped in their own comfort pits. Further, things are made worse by such bosses who create an illusion that you’re at the right place doing the right stuff. Not that you may not be at the right place. But the point is, do you challenge yourself enough to adapt according to the insanely dynamic world of technology?

A small company doesn’t have the budget for comfort zones. And that’s in fact the USP of a small company. Not that there is zero tolerance for error. But yeah, definitely the room for error is less. Actually the amazing part is people make lesser mistakes when they have greater responsibilities to shoulder. Higher expectations transform into greater responsibilities. Responsibilities transform into growth. Humans have this indomitable ability to rise up to the challenges. We don’t succumb. We compete. We perform. Ultimate benefit is the intense experience gained and the satisfaction of seeing yourself do justice to your potential. Sooner or later, money does follow all this (can’t keep it out of the equation .. can you?).

This phenomenon is a characteristic of small companies. It does happen in big companies but only to very very few.

To those who like discrete enumeration of ideas, I say, few of the nicest attributes of work at small companies in general and Quovantis in particular are:

  1. Greater challenges.
  2. Greater responsibilities.
  3. Greater intensity of work experience.
  4. Perpetual and top class learning opportunities.
  5. Opportunities to nurture a flexible mindset.
  6. Fun culture. Flexible timings (when used responsibly). Truly flat hierarchy. Thought stimulating discussions around any interesting topic under the sun. Not the least, beer parties.
  7. Liberation from the monotony of working on a single dimension of the project or even technology.
  8. Chance to be influenced by very smart techies.

To Nidhi, I told, how fun it can be to be at Infosys. But, also told her about the opportunity she has to be more significant and the difference she can make by being at Quovantis. And it’s fun when you can do that.

To you, I ask, are you sure you’re not stuck in a pit?

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