NASCAR // The Night Out(s)

nascar
nascar (Photo credit: rogerblake2)

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet!! This is not about me being out of home and partying hard; this is about yet another day @ work. Last 16 months, I have lived and breathed about another sport NASCAR. I was and am the one of the Architects on a project that Sapient Nitro embarked upon sometime in 2011. We worked with NASCAR – the 2nd most popular sport in USA and we had to re-platform their .com digital property. I was responsible for technology design and implementation on the project.

 

During the course of the project and especially after it went live on Jan 3, 2013, we had to also support the races. Today is one such race day/weekend when NASCAR holds it 9th round of the Sprint-cup-series. I am in office; I didn’t need to be, but we have our Delivery Lead (John Schneider) visiting India first time since launch and he will be in office tonight experience first hand a night out on support. I am in office just to make sure that we don’t end up sharing a superficial experience with John. Out of the 9 races that we have had, I have been in office during weekends and nights for at least 5 weekends and as we have stabilised the platform week on week we have had our share of fun with Fantasy, Raceview, Leaderboard and Live Telecast (if we can find one). And, i want to make sure that we do all of that today as well and not just put up a grandeur show of working and working.

 

We are still about 90 minutes from the green flag drop and in office, I have with me 5 of my team members who are part of Level 2 support and have been responsible

Race Support @ Sapient
Race Support @ Sapient

of running this beast of a platform day in and day out. They are the warriors who hold up the gates while several million fans enjoy the sport out there. The team is in middle of ensuring that the pre-flight checks are done and things are working as they are supposed to. We will check several systems – Feeds for leader board, feeds for lap by lap commentary and cautions, editorial publishing which is used to push all major content, check that all the servers – web and CQ publish servers are in order and the content is in sync with each other.

 

NASCAR’s editorial team is already on ground and the press passes are starting on; I can see updates coming on home page. Today, we will have Matt Kensth lead the field – he was the winner last week as well so a strong start for him. They have already pushed a couple of home page updates. I can see the Home Page hero saying “Ready for Richmond” with a nice picture of a driver that I cant identify – but looks like it is Kenseth. We have the projects up and running – one of them will be projecting the real time analytics telling us the traffic levels on the site and another one that will stream the race directly for us.

 

Three of us – Nitin Tyagi, Kiran and me play fantasy very aggressively and are competing very closely. We all have our teams set and here is a snapshot of my team today.

NASCAR Fantasy Roster Week of April 28
NASCAR Fantasy Roster Week of April 28

 

Leaderboard is not warm yet but this is how it looks today and something that the team is monitoring very closely. This is the page that gets so much traffic today during races.

NASCAR // Leader board

 

Looking for a good day @ office – Oops!! for another good night out!!

 

 

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Hats – which one are you wearing?

Today, I am having a very interesting conversation with a team member. And this conversation makes me remind how critical it is to wear different Hats. We are both debating on a problem statement and at some poing we both are right as well. There seems to be a few problems and we are having a good conversation trying to figure out what perspective we have to see the problem from. We both are somewhat guessing what would the people who we have to present this POV.

 

In the last few weeks, while I am trying to solve for some issues I have been forcing myself to wear several hats; I have been a Analyst, Strategist, Client, Delivery, Data-Collector and Fixer/Implementor. While I wore one at a time and it has been helping me immensely. Even though some of these roles are such that I have not played but what I know for a fact is that this is making me think DIFFERENTLY.

 

This is not the first time I did this, but when i think about it it seems I was just way too busy with my job day-in day-out. What Hat do I Wear not to forget this next time 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Leaders or just Managers?

Recalling an incident from 2007, it reminds me of the ideology of being “emotional for your work and company”. The phrase comes to mind – “Married to the company”.

In the past I have tried to be very emotional around my work, but a couple of discussions back in 2008 with a Senior Project Manager and a Director made me realize a few things. And now when I contemplate those things back and see similar things happening elsewhere too.

My assessment back then was that being emotional towards work and company (someone else) will only hurt me in the end. In the past I had worked almost twice the tenure with my company. For the 4 years I spent, my time spent working clocked to almost 8 years. No doubts that I was learning a lot, but the mistakes I did was that I was emotional about my work. I used to put that in front of everything else in my life. The rewards were good too – money, position etc. Until the day my project started to do South. A meeting that I had with a Senior Project Manager (Manish) around my future role on the project made me realize that he was going to sacrifice a human interest for the betterment of the project. He is a very successful manager in the organization and is very talented too.

A year later in 2008, another meeting made me realize that the company will choose to pay new hires more than what I am getting because I enjoy the Goodwill in the organization. I was not fully sure how to respond back then. But, I realize now that this is how every company operates. What I fail to understand is how that works out. A company/manager chooses to pay less to an existing employee who has done well for them and has generated results in the past; someone who knows the domain and the company. How can a manager/company let go of that person and go about finding a replacement only to give that new person a higher compensation and in the process spend a lot more on training and opportunity.

Maybe, this is a trait of a successful manager, I do not believe that this is a trait for a good leader. I have not done any MBA, but all these people who are running companies around me are MBAs from IIMs and other premier institutes. I do not understand the rationale behind it.