(January 20, 2022) Silicon Valley to Bangalore, Amitava Ghosh has devoted his homecoming to embracing new-age technologies and solving human problems. This unique mandate has shaped his career for two decades. Moves determined by one thing alone – the potential for innovation. Stints with Yahoo, TaxiForSure, Snapdeal, start-ups and his own ventures, the common thread was how Amitava has always played a role in leveraging the latest technology for human good. “While software development and engineering are at the core, I always look out for opportunities where I can make a mark in the latest wave that envisions solving tomorrow’s problem at scale. There are always new challenges that are not well-defined today but technologies play a key role in devising great solutions. I seek to find myself in that place,” says the Indian IT engineer in an exclusive with Global Indian.
A multidisciplinary childhood
Born and brought up in Suri (West Bengal), Amitava studied at Birbhum Zilla School which was interestingly founded in 1857, the year of the mutiny. He did Integrated M.Tech degree from IIT, Delhi in biochemical engineering and biotechnology. Subtle hints of his geeky-yet-solution-driven approach to science were dropped during his M.Tech – his graduation project in protein folding simulation, something that satiated his thirst for multidisciplinary sciences – engineering, computer science, chemistry and biology. The rest of his waking hours were spent coding software!
Coming from an extended family of professors, the 47-year-old was engulfed in science conversations as a child and this became a part of his mental dialogue too. “My family and extended family are all academicians, with a scientific bent of mind so that was what I most loved,” says the macro problem solver.
The family lineage of professors in diverse scientific fields who were only happy to propel his interest in everything science has undoubtedly made him more versatile.
Helping save the world’s power crisis
For the past few months, the Indian techie has been trying to transform the world energy and utilities industry, after the realisation of a scary truth. “The world is just not conscious enough about energy. If we do nothing about it today, the progress of growing economies and sustaining them will be highly challenging, and it will cause massive damage to mankind in environmental impact, impacting GDP,” Amitava cautions. He believes that enormous problems can be offset if we become energy efficient and embrace renewable energy.
Tech-enabling power management
The problem solver who harnesses technology almost subliminally, Amitava joined Silicon Valley headquartered, Bangalore-based Bidgely a year ago. As senior vice-president, engineering, he helps the team unlock the power of AI and ML to help utility companies visualise, monitor, manage and optimise power utilisation by end consumers. Bidgely’s solutions are today used by many large and small power distributors across North America, Canada, Japan and the EU. They are eyeing expansion in India and the Middle East where smart meter adoption has seen growing traction. “Currently, we are expanding the development team globally in Ukraine and Ireland while strengthening the key R&D centre in Bangalore,” he adds excitedly.
“We seldom realise how with every passing year, we purchase new gadgets, home automation products, IoT systems, electric vehicles, etc. Each uses power, and the more we use power, the more mindful we need to be about it,” says Ghosh, who with his team has devised solutions that allow end consumers to visualise and optimise power usage.
Travel and bedtime stories
The techie also lives and breathes cricket. Yet, it’s wanderlust that is the clincher. “Chasing the northern lights this winter in Iceland was an out of the world experience and we were determined to travel adhering to all laws despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic,” smiles Amitava. His wife, Rinku Ghosh, is also deep into the tech world in Bengaluru as co-founder of a start up in the consumer data platform space.
His ten-year-old son Ritav is still deciding what interests him more, science or the arts. However, “He loves to listen to my travel escapades. He does not sleep till I have shared a travel story at bedtime daily,” shares the doting father.
And it’s all kinds of travel too, “I am a diverse traveller, from Kabini to Ranthambore to Paris – I love the finer things in life, yet revel in the raw and rustic too,” the Indian IT engineer adds.
Boy meets corporate world
Somewhere along the journey of finding an ideal fit, Amitava worked for Sumtotal Systems, an e-learning company based out of Silicon Valley. “We were given the task of setting up the Hyderabad office. Back then, India was not an R&D hot spot. Hence along with building the reputation of a mint fresh centre and making it an integral part of a US-led business, the key challenge was to find and mentor ‘product minded’ and ‘product driven’ engineers in India which were not in great supply,” he recalls.
Large scale dreams
For the next decade (2004-2013), Amitava worked in Yahoo across functions – communities’ products like message boards to heading the platform team of Y!’s emerging markets business to search & marketplace. “This was a rather exciting phase. I saw a scale of products and a distributed global operation that I had never seen before. The diverse cultural exposure helped a lot. It was also the time when Yahoo was looking to expand into emerging markets such as Taiwan, the Middle East and Brazil, and being part of this growth was an experience I cherish,” says the man with his eye on future tech.
Solving the Indian transportation problem
Post Yahoo, Amitava’s focus shifted to real-world problems. This urged him to take charge of TaxiForSure’s technology team as CTO (2014-2015). “Transportation was a huge challenge in India back then. The private transport sector wasn’t organised and I knew technology could drive us towards a revolution of sorts. I had to be part of this revolution,” says the tech whiz who is proud of playing an important role in the revolution.
Transportation, done. His next challenge was ecommerce with Snapdeal (2015-17). “My key KRA was to manage customer experience of online shoppers, of course using technology.” Amitava realised that trust was the make-or-break element of ecommerce, and he devoted his time to smoothen creases of order management, customer experience, returns and replacement, rating and reviews and risk minimisation. “All of this while battling tremendous competition. There were new players – big and small – coming up every week, and we had to win many battles,” adds the executive who had his focus on consumer interests.
Word of advice for job-seekers
One of Amitava’s favourite topics are the rapidly evolving human resources trends in the IT industry. “Do not make the herd mentality mistake. Defining a bigger problem area and the purpose is important, rather than just brands. This creates much more long-term value in terms of learning and growth. Today, there are smaller companies doing mind-boggling stuff in technology. You just need to earmark the industry that is fast evolving, and identify a company that does remarkable work. And you will have stories to share,” the Indian IT engineer says. Can’t argue with that going by Amitava’s own rise taking, and embracing new technologies.
- Follow Amitav Ghosh on Linkedin