Software Engineer, Enterprise Cloud Platform
When Santa Palchaudhuri decided to leave Silicon Valley and go into banking, he had a lot of explaining to do to his friends and coworkers. “They all thought I was playing it safe," he says with a laugh.
But where they saw a conventional Wall Street giant, he saw a technologist's dream job: to work with one of the world's largest companies, building its private cloud service from the ground up. “I knew it would be an amazing opportunity," he explains.
It's been anything but boring, as Palchaudhuri likes to remind his friends. “My team and I work with the most cutting-edge, modern technology—stuff a lot of companies would be hesitant to venture into," he says. "That's been a wonderful surprise."
What does success look like to you?
For me, success is equivalent to happiness in life. What is happiness? Being able to do what you want and not what you're expected to do. In Eastern societies like India, where I am from, there is a lot more pressure from your seniors telling you what to be. But I have been very, very clear with my kids that I definitely want them to choose their career and their happiness.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I'd say it's not so much a person as a philosophy, and that's the philosophy of Che Guevara and the idea of standing up for people who cannot take a stand for themselves. I have had the privilege of a good education, and I am sitting in this chair talking to you not because I am the most intelligent guy, but because I got so many opportunities in my education and throughout my life.
I believe in egalitarianism, and I love the Scandinavian model of paying 50 percent in taxes which takes care of the basics, and education and healthcare for everyone in the country. But I also loved my two-seater, open-top Mercedes and my single malt scotch.
The way I explain it is with this quote I once heard from an Indian billionaire: “When you are 20, if you are not a communist you have no heart. If you are 40 and still a communist, you have no head." I am deeply committed to giving back to the society that has given me so much. It's not enough to give as much as I've received. I need to give more.
What do you consider the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received and where did it come from?
My dad once told me a long time ago never to run after money. Instead, prepare yourself such that money runs after you. I truly try to follow that.
What is the biggest obstacle you've overcome in life?
I don't have a big obstacle I can point my finger to. What I can say is that I am very passionate. I like dealing with people who are authentic. Sometimes, when I feel that people are not being authentic, not having the intellectual honesty to stand up for something by saying, 'hey, that's my fault,' simple things like that, I don't react very well. So I have had to learn to grow up and contain my passions a little bit better.
Now if I am really upset, I actually close my laptop and tell myself not to reply while I am deeply upset. I sleep on it and wake up with a fresh mind. I have suffered for reacting adversely, and I have learned.
Work-from-home, go to the office or a mix of both?
I like a mix of both. To be honest, I looked at the data, and my team and I are all about 50 percent more productive at home right now in terms of number of check-ins, deliverables, all that sort of stuff, because people can focus without interruption. Plus, the traffic is so bad in Bangalore and we all have long commutes, and now we don't have that physical and mental strain and can have all that time back.
But I do miss the things like Fun Fridays, when we would all get in a conference room with a big white board and brainstorm together on how to build new things. And the extended lunches. And the beers. I definitely miss that bonding.