Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Asma Karim Mirza, Elixir Technologies

Mr. Waqar Ahmad is currently Vice President of Engineering in one of the prestigious software houses of Islamabad: Elixir Technologies.

He did his BSc from Govt. Postgraduate College, Asghar Mall, Rawalpindi. He was part of the very first CS batch (PGD program) that enrolled in IIUI, back in 1993. After completing his PGD he opted CS as a profession. He returned to IIUI in 1998 for his MSc in Computer Science.

Asma Karim Mirza:. Please tell us about the years you spent at IIUI & your experience on-campus.

Waqar Ahmed: When I joined the PGD program, I was fresh in CS industry or for that matter in any industry. While in our class many students were experienced in their respective fields. It was a competitive and challenging environment all-in-all. The learning edge was great because of the experienced fellows and the faculty, especially Dr. Arshad and Dr. Naveed (who were also my FYP supervisors). The faculty’s enthusiasm towards knowledge delivery was remarkable and I rank them high in my achievements. They worked to build concepts in our minds rather making us tool experts.

I remember my project was on Islamabad Police, it was well-received not only in university but also in police department. Many officers came in for the demonstration.

AKM: Can you relate us from your strongest memories of university that you still cherish?

WA: When I joined Islamic in year 1998 for my Masters, the experience was altogether different. I had nearly 5 years experience in development and teaching. The paradigm was entirely different from PGD. Initially, I wanted to join MBA-ITM classes but on Dr. Shahid’s suggestion I remained in software engineering.

That reminds me of how I got in touch with my present company. I was one of those few students who were recommended by DCS for getting hired in Elixir’s engineering lab.

AKM: Any personage at university you can easily relate to as your Mentor?

WA: Of many, a few names that I highly honor are:

· Dr. Arshad (Previous HOD, who later founded CS department in MAJU, Islamabad).

· Dr. Khalid Rashid (Founding Member of DCS).

· Dr. Naveed Ikram (now HOD) .

AKM: Would you describe us your professional journey from your first job to the VP Engineering at Elixir Technologies?

WA: Interestingly, I never applied for a job anywhere. Got my first job in a MNC by writing a test program. Later on, I was approached by Elixir and joined them as a software engineer. Few years down the lane, I joined DPS as Development Architect for their DWH project. In 2005, I came back to Elixir Technologies in Development

Manager’s role, shortly after I was promoted to the role of Director, Engineering and in 2007 I was appointed VP, Engineering.

Personally, I feel flare for technical management. Also keeping in view that much of my experience is in product development, the roles I’ve taken seems synonymous to my interests.

AKM: How do you think IIUI has played a role in your personal and professional escalation?

WA: Certainly the knowledge I have gained is all credited to IIUI. And I can’t deny the efforts of university that played a great role in my personal and professional grooming.

In our class, combined studies in its real sense was existent that helped us all collectively.MSc-6, our Masters batch, was known for the projects they took up in the student years in the whole department. Student escalation was synonymous to MSc-6. Student opinions were regarded by the faculty and department heads.

AKM: Being the boss of one of the biggest companies in the market, how do you see the local software market? How do you relate it to the global market?

WA: In Elixir technologies, I’m leading the Engineering department. Keeping in view the global market, ours is still a smaller-scale company. Seeing the global trends, market is readily transforming into project-centric rather focusing on products. Project-based companies can offer appealing packages but they’ve lesser potential towards resource retainability.

Sadly in Pakistan, most of the leading companies are surviving majorly on international market. If left to survive alone, they can hardly meet their ends. Similarly, in local software market the biggest factor we are lacking behind is the entrepreneur zeal.

Also, I feel that we are producing very few technical managers having in-depth information on engineering architecture and business models. Students and professionals are becoming more and more tool-dependant.

AKM: How do you feel about the university now? Are you still in touch with the alumni and university events?

WA: For past few years, I’m out of touch with university happenings. I used to be called for FYP externals but due to my increased responsibilities here, I’m not able to visit the university often.

Talking about graduates passing out, sadly we haven’t yet found many technically sound fresh graduates from IIUI.

AKM: From your experience, what do you feel is essentially lacking in the graduates of IIUI and how to improve?

WA: A few points missing from graduates of Islamic, in my opinion, are:

· Communication skills (verbal and in writing).

· Dress sense, largely in male side, needs lot of grooming.

· Badly designed CVs. Since CV is a person’s marketing tool; if it leaves a bad impression on employer we don’t expect much from the resource. Our students put every possible thing on their CV and usually they are not able to justify them when asked in interviews.

· Sound hold on Mathematical and statistical subjects is

very important for CS students. That should be ensured in our graduates.

AKM: Any message you would like to give to the students of your alma-mater?

WA: Work hard to achieve your goals in life; working hard has no replacement. Shortcuts may seem simpler and attractive but in the long run your work pays.

It’s best to broaden your knowledge acquisition and understanding; yet you need to fill in the deeper gaps. A piece of information with no information on how it works may be vain.

AKM: And to the administration & students of DCS in particular?

WA: Seeing the new generation of engineers coming out from IIUI, I must say universities are becoming more and more tool dependant and lesser CS-oriented. Students are not aware of tool architecture or even software processes instead they are becoming programming language experts.

Most of the graduates are lacking in research-oriented approach and thought process needed for technical development. Reasons could be the nearly non-existent research groups in Pakistan. Universities are producing MPhil’s and PhD’s with no real research associated with them. Innovation in engineering sciences is needed.


Read Full Post »