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Raghavan Puranam

Raghavan Puranam

Director Quality and Release Engineering
Yahoo!
 
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The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here
It has been a wonderful journey of over 20+ yrs so far. I have worked for only three companies in my career so far: CMC R & D, Hyderabad, Sun Microsystems and Yahoo!

I started my career with CMC R & D Hyderabad. Those days, getting into the hardware was a dream for the good students. I got to work with some of the smartest people at CMC R & D and worked on many cool projects: Message Switching Systems, SCADA, and Electronic Telex machines. Developed and tested hardware, device drivers and test jigs.

Then I decided to move into software development. I joined a huge banking software project. I worked on all phases: Collecting requirements, developing prototypes, getting sign off from the Product Owner, designing the system, developing the software, testing and deployment. Here we came up with coding standards, GUI development standards, Unit Test Design standards, code reviews. These became the guidelines for most of the projects later. I feel it was possible to deliver high quality projects because of the rigor and discipline I inherited from my hardware experience.

Then I got an opportunity to work for Sun Microsystems, USA. I joined the Enterprise Messaging and Infrastructure team. This was one of the best periods of my career. I gained extensive experience in areas like Message Oriented Middleware, SOA, B2B, Registries, Measuring and Monitoring Web services. This team helped Sun to realize Quote to collect vision. As said before i gained deep experience in good engineering practices which enabled to build high quality products and projects.

After 7 yrs of enriching experience at Sun USA, I returned to Sun Bangalore. For the first time, I moved into Quality and started as QA Architect. This was a wonderful experience and I decided to continue my career in Quality.

After 3yrs in Sun Bangalore, I joined Yahoo! as Senior Engineering Manager and was tasked to build a world class white box engineering team. I built a strong team of 60 people which delivered high quality platforms that run most of Yahoo! properties. The platform which is built on top of Hadoop, processes over 100TB of data everyday and forms the backbone of Yahoo! critical business. I went on to become Director of Quality and Release Engineering at Yahoo! and drove many initiatives like Continuous Integration, White Box Engineering, adoption of Agile Process and best Release Engineering Practices.
Decisions That Mattered
Being open minded and making the most of every responsibility and challenge. I had opportunity to work in different domains and technologies: HW, Banking, Middleware, SOA, Big Data Platforms, Hadoop, Release Engineering and played many roles: Developer, Dev Architect, QE Architect, Dev Manager, QA Manager.
The Turning Points
Moving from Dev to QE was one of the most important and interesting event.
Work and Role: Then and Now
As can be seen from the above, I have handled widely varying technologies and responsibilities that has made me quite versatile. This was possible as I always approach with an open mind and accept every new responsibility and problem as a challenge and opportunity.
Two Years down the Line
As a person who has created keen interest in Quality as a Career in at least a few more people.
What I Learnt Along the Way
Every problem should be treated as a challenge and an opportunity and there is always room for improving the Quality of what we do!
Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
Even though a lot more innovation is happening all around us today than ever before, we have not grown as professional people who can engineer world class products. The mediocrity seems to be more today than when I started. Pride in Technical depth and expertise are lacking and there are not many senior technical people in the industry to provide technical leadership to the new generations.
Trends to Watch Out For
Big Data Analytics and Mobile Technology are going to impact almost everyone on the globe and businesses like Online Gaming, Education, Entertainment, Retail, Advertisement, Supply Chain Management will benefit most from these technologies. Having said that if you are an expert in any technology and business area not mentioned above, you can easily adapt and be successful in any domain and technology since you understand what it takes to be successful!
My Advice If You are Starting Out
Irrespective of the domain, make sincere efforts to gain technical depth and take pride in becoming an expert. There will be great demand for such folks no matter whether the economy is doing well or not! There will always be greater respect and demand for Senior Technical folks than Managers! So, pursue a technical career for long standing success!
Must Focus Areas for the Future
In addition to the technical expertise like testing and test methodologies, gain in-depth domain knowledge in the business domain you are working in. Such domain experts will become great assets to the company and will have a long and successful career!
Do We Need Certifications?
I don't have any certifications! I believe real learning happens on the job! But I strongly recommend getting certification in Programming Languages like Java, Non-Functional testing areas like Performance, Security, Internationalization, Development Methodologies like Scrum and Agile. This will provide sufficient grounding in important areas mentioned above which are necessary to be a competent engineer in your team. 
Books/ Websites I Recommend
There are plenty of good books and articles by great authors. But having a structures approach to reading keeping in view the project and business needs will help both the business and career. Nothing works like knowledge sharing and problem solving in a team environment!
Last But Not Least
Who should go for a career in quality?
I think this is a very important question every quality engineer as well as a new engineer trying to start in quality should ask himself or herself. Almost anyone can become a Programmer but very few become good Developers! Likewise, not everyone can become a good Quality Engineer: You should find out if you have the right mindset to become a great quality engineer. Otherwise, you should look at some other career options!
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