If there’s one factor that Manikandan ‘Mani’ Thangarathnam loves about expertise, it’s the potential to simplify a shopper’s life. A staunch believer within the energy of logical pondering and reasoning, Mani felt there was a “strong correlation between mathematics and computer science”.
“Both have a strong base in logical thinking and reasoning. There should be a reasoning for why are you doing what you are doing, and computer science gives you that. There is a logic for everything and this is what excites me the most about computer science,” Mani says.
After a 15-year engagement at Amazon, Mani just lately joined Uber because the Head of Engineering. The shift was a no brainer for he believes each phase, sector, and house in an business has “a phase of disruption” with regards to expertise.
“In the past few decades, music, books, retail, content, and phones have also seen their digital disruption phases; now it’s the time for mobility,” he says.
Mani, who hails from Tuticorin, spent most of his boyhood in Chennai the place his father labored as Chief Monetary Controller for Tamil Nadu Electrical energy Board and his mom was a homemaker.
He may be a techie with near twenty years of expertise in constructing merchandise at Microsoft, Amazon, and now Uber, however Mani was eager to grow to be a health care provider at one level. Nonetheless, his medical entrance take a look at rating didn’t enable him a seat, and he selected engineering at School of Engineering, Guindy, in 1996.
“In hindsight, those four years were life-changing and transformational. On a relative’s advice, I ended up taking the then less popular computer science engineering elective. I enjoyed the four-year journey and learnt a lot of programming and coding,” he says.
This love for programming and coding continues even right now.
The Microsoft trip
However when Mani handed out in 2000 there weren’t many product corporations in India. Google and Fb had been non-existent, and the one massive worldwide firm constructing one thing in India was Microsoft. It had began India operations in 1998, and in 2000 determined to rent kids from school campuses. That’s how Mani selected to affix Microsoft.
“At Microsoft, I learnt that empowering individuals will drive what the group must ship. After 4 years, I received into individuals administration and even introduced a venture to Invoice Gates,” says Mani, who joined the R&D centre in Hyderabad contemporary out of school. He was the second member to be chosen to be a part of a 15-member group.
The group labored on 4 tasks. Mani labored on a venture that concerned constructing Outlook as a shopper for IBM’s Domino server. Explaining, he says the IBM Domino server has an e-mail providing to view emails; the consumer wants to make use of Lotus Consumer to view emails. “This initiative helped me strengthen my base on applications,” he says.
After seven years at Microsoft, Mani moved again to Chennai in 2007 for private causes. In October that 12 months, he joined Amazon in Chennai – their 14th worker in India. By this time, Mani had seen the journey of progress at Microsoft and understood the challenges of scale and progress particular to product growth in India.
Constructing for Amazon
“Amazon was then increasing into music, movies, and e-books amongst different sizeable ventures. I entered the workforce and joined the digital content material group,” he says.
His first venture at Amazon was to seek out the best way to get content material from content material suppliers and retailer in an environment friendly and safe means. The excessive volumes that Amazon was coping with needed to be stored in thoughts.
“We needed to construct and clear up for a way we may retailer 10 or 40 GB recordsdata securely with out knowledge leaks. I obtained two patents as a part of this venture. The construction we constructed within the early days remains to be utilized by the digital content material house served by Amazon,” Mani says.
In 2008, he started work on Kindle as adoption of the e-reader picked up. He labored on the content material on the platform and books, changing them to Kindle codecs.
“The various challenges my team solved included book formatting, publishing, and pricing. The team soon grew from single digits to triple numbers due to expansion in technology, operations, and the success of the device. These play a critical factor in generating revenues for the Kindle business even today,” he says.
Mani went on to work on the Kindle system software program, serving to transition the software program framework and software stack to Chennai.
In 2011, the main focus shifted to enlargement of Fireplace tablets and TV.
“I started focusing on Android, which included system apps that shipped with the OS, and gained three years of experience in the field. Fire OS was primitive since it served all the Android-based devices that powered Fire TV, tablets, and phone,” he says.
By 2015, Mani started labored on Alexa Communications; the concept was to deliver customers nearer. Most of his work right here is confidential.
Two years later, he moved to work on Appstore.
“This was a move with a focus on making an impact across all devices. The initial focus was on the client side of purchasing, downloading, and installing apps on Fire TV and Fire Tablets. We soon moved to focus on increasing the PDI adoption and usage of operations.”
Mani says the rise in scope occurred by taking possession of the developer expertise. The group drives efforts to keep up developer engagement by contributing efforts – 3P builders interact with Appstore by submitting their apps to enter the Amazon Appstore community.
Mobility and disruption
After 13 years at Amazon, Mani joined Uber in 2020. On why he selected mobility Mani says, “Since 1995, there have been differential changes and disruption in ecommerce. I feel there are sectors that are poised for massive tech disruption in the next 10 to 15 years; mobility is one such area.”
At Uber, engineering groups are working throughout key tech verticals – Rider, Fintech, Uber4Business, Maps, Buyer Obsession, Market, IT Engineering, Infrastructure, Danger and Funds, Advert Tech, Eats, World Scaled Options, and Knowledge.
Mani says the pandemic opened up new channels of innovation, with use circumstances being very novel and distinctive.
The groups developed options comparable to in-app masks verification, digital inexperienced gentle hubs to assist drivers with issues, and energetic map updates, bearing in mind numerous containment zones throughout cities.
No stopping a techie
Mani believes it is vital for a techie to maintain going and constructing issues.
“On my final day at Microsoft my mentor there requested me: supposing you go to a brand new firm and issues don’t work, what is going to you do? I responded that as many individuals have informed me that I can come again if issues don’t work out, perhaps I’ll come again.
“My mentor then gave me recommendation for a lifetime: if issues aren’t working, that’s the time you need to be there and make it occur. Even after you’re employed arduous for few months and issues nonetheless appear robust, that’s when an individual like you possibly can actually make a distinction.”
Mani explains his philosophy, saying: “When issues are more durable than they appear, it provides you, as a techie, the chance to discover a resolution to that downside. My mentor had mentioned this doesn’t imply you can’t come again to Microsoft however take the problem and clear up it and that may take you forward. Even right now, wherever I’m going and no matter downside I face, I keep in mind this recommendation.”
Mani seems to be for individuals who have problem-solving expertise and perceive knowledge construction algorithms. He explains that we now have a “segment of engineers passionate about a problem and problem solving”.
There is no such thing as a higher time than now for Indian techies to construct international merchandise and income at international scale. “So it is important to develop the competency needed to build those products. That is why it is important to have diverse groups to understand the requirements of consumers from diverse groups. That gives you the power and ability to build features and products that the consumer loves. Your product has to really solve a customer’s problem.”
Talking of his learnings and recommendation for younger techies, Mani says: “I have learnt to be customer-centric; this is important while designing and building products. Be delivery-focused, get customer feedback, fail and recover fast. Get people together to make things happen.”