Just A Cog
At first glance, he appears rather ordinary. Seeing him in that crowd of suits and business attire, he could easily be mistaken for another company executive, or perhaps a professor from a local university. He is clean cut, wearing a tailored suit, and seems interested in the events of the day. But then his jacket opens slightly, and a shoulder holster and a handgun can briefly be seen. It is now obvious; he is not merely another company executive or university professor. He is there for an entirely different purpose. Few people in attendance that day will ever even know his name. However, despite how ordinary or insignificant he might seem, he plays a very important role in the day’s events.
A year ago, we hosted our grand opening at the new Infosys Innovation Hub in Raleigh, NC. We had government officials, corporate executives, and leaders in education all in attendance. But most notably, the governor of North Carolina was there, and of course his security detail. We also had key leaders from Infosys in attendance who travelled halfway around the world to be there and witness the start of something new. This was more than just something new for Raleigh; this was something new for Infosys, a key step in their plan to bring thousands of jobs to not just North Carolina, but the entire United States. My task that day was somewhat ordinary, as was most of my work throughout the year that followed. However, it gave me the opportunity to observe the people in attendance that day. It was fascinating to watch the various people interacting, some in the middle of their careers, who attended perhaps in the hopes of establishing some new relationship that could further their business interests. Others were present that day, obviously nearing the end of a long and successful career. However, I realized they all had likely started their careers in a role similar to mine. Some might describe it as merely being a “cog in the machine”.
My current project assignment for one of our clients has been pushing me to go beyond just being a programmer. In my role as an Incident Support Lead, I am responsible for coordinating between application teams, end users, management, and clients whenever any issues arise on the more than 500 apps that we manage. In this role I no longer focus on the programming; instead, my focus is on aspects like evaluating the business impact of an outage, and determining the best way to reduce that impact for our client. This has enabled me to approach programming challenges from a new perspective. Instead of merely working on a piece of code, I have the opportunity in this role to gain experience in asset management and optimization, client impact evaluation, and the organizational framework behind a company’s vast network of applications.
By far one of the highlights of my work this past year was the opportunity to plan the end of year party for Infosys employees in the Raleigh area. I tasked with contacting a variety of venues and reserving one to fit our needs. I selected a caterer and then selected menu options and negotiated on prices and package deals. I helped with brainstorming for event activities ranging from a photo booth, to a DJ and dance floor. However, the most rewarding part was preparing for and running the drawing to give away raffle prizes to employees. It was a lot of fun to be given a budget and then select the prizes we wanted to give out, purchase them, and then see the anticipation and excitement at the event as we drew numbers and gave away a TV, game consoles, headphones, gift cards, and much more! This was all experience I would not have received in a typical programming role.
Towards the beginning of this year, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had been promoted to the role of senior associate. I was later asked by some of our new college hires what I had done to deserve this promotion, especially so early in my career. As I stumbled through a response, I realized I had trouble pinpointing any specific achievements that in my view would warrant the promotion. I spoke with someone from our regional leadership and they informed me that the promotion was based not necessarily on any one specific accomplishment, but rather on my willingness to take up any task, no matter the significance or whether it was in my specific area of expertise.
Throughout the past year, as I’ve gone about the various tasks given to me, I have been reminded of the man on the governor’s security detail that day. He wasn’t looking for recognition, he knew he wasn’t going to be in the spotlight that day, he knew those people lining up weren’t there to shake his hand. He simply took the task given to him and completed it to the best of his ability. He recognized that no matter how large a team he might be on, his role was still essential to the team’s success. He didn’t expect his team members to cover for him so he could relax and visit the refreshments table. He stayed at his post, he did his job, he was “just another cog in the machine” and his team was successful.