Halfway between a corporate developer and a young entrepreneur, Nirvan Pagooah is 22 years old and has several strings to his bow. Because a few minutes are not enough, he took a few days to tell us about his crazy adventure.
Nirvan, you are what we call a versatile developer. Can you tell us what it is?
Being multipotential is an unattainable goal, even a myth, according to many engineers, developers, designers and consultants. In fact, it’s something you achieve through years of hard work, experience, intensive training, psychological preparation, personal investment, but you have to keep in mind that it’s also a matter of passion and interest in what you do. Likewise, it is necessary to be self-taught, so as to learn and evolve at one’s own pace and according to one’s own means. You also have to be on top of new technologies and the biggest challenges they present, because everything is related to engineering.
So, first of all, I say that I am multipotential to explain to others what I do, and to situate myself in my career. In the past, multidisciplinarity was very uncommon, because everything was considered separately: each person did his or her own work, and there was a clear distinction between employees. Today, it’s hard to do just one thing at a time: just coding rather than taking on other responsibilities like developing digital visual arts products.
In fact, now, being more than a small contributor is exactly the principle of multidisciplinarity. To be a good multi-skilled developer, it is fundamental to be accustomed to and have a good understanding of various subjects such as Research and Development, Front-end Development, Design and User Experience (UX), Back-end Development, Data Management, Server Management and Networking, Customer Relationship Management or Project Management. This list is not exhaustive, but these are the important points that I think you should know.
What are your skills?
My career started when I was 13, when I started my first blog on Blogspot. I used to post about trends in the tech world. At the same time, I was really impressed by the development and what you can really create with these processes. It was then that I was inspired to work in technology and information systems.
During all these years, I managed to acquire various skills, and this is where my autonomy and my desire to learn by myself helped me a lot. One has to understand that the things one will use in life require some learning and that some of them will not be taught in class. So I made it my duty to find out.
Here are the fields in which I have skills and in which I am specialized:
– System design
– Front-end development and user interface design
– Project management
– Back-end development and system integration
– Enterprise Resource Planning
– Design and branding
– Application development
– Business intelligence and big data
Where are you working today and what is your mission?
I currently work for La Sentinelle Digital (LSL), the digital annex of La Sentinelle. The mission of this agency is to use new technologies to benefit the digital platforms operated by the Presidium. On my side, I am a front-end developer, in charge of the design, implementation and maintenance of the systems for the whole company and especially its flagship activity, lexpress.mu.
Technically, the development team consists of four developers and a system administrator who manages all the company’s digital systems. To be honest, I feel that I work in an environment that I enjoy, especially since I have dynamic, committed, passionate colleagues who take pride and satisfaction in what they do every day.
Many will ask why I left entrepreneurship to work in a company. Above all, it is a personal choice. During my career, I’ve had the chance to work with various companies around the world, but I didn’t really have a sense of working in larger teams. Working in a team is different, and it’s kind of fun, but when there’s work to do, well… you have to work!
Why did you choose to be a developer? And why versatility?
I never chose to be a developer in particular. It is rather my passion and my knowledge that brought me there. I never imagined that one day I would make a living doing what I love. Also, IT is a vast sector, which encompasses a multitude of jobs, each as different as the next. In my opinion, IT was, is and will remain a very important pillar for our economy.
What I’m doing right now can be integrated into any field. A simple example: for accounting, you will need developers for the development of accounting software.
IT and all related sectors will continue to evolve, it’s a field that challenges people as much as it rewards them, where imagination and creativity are important. That’s why I chose this particular area.
As for my versatility, as I said above, expanding my knowledge and skills allows me to work in large and diverse teams around the world. It’s an absolute necessity, especially when you’re freelancing. As a multi-skilled developer who understands the various aspects of development, I find it easy to understand the demands and bridge the gap between front-end and back-end.
You also have a strong entrepreneurial background. Can you tell us more?
In fact, my entrepreneurial journey started before I was 18 and, to be honest, I went through a lot of rough patches during that time. At the beginning, it was really deserted, zero projects for several weeks and I was really desperate. Sometimes I doubted my decision until I realized that it was all about risk.
At the time, I proposed to many companies to collaborate with me for very small amounts and they refused, arguing that they did not need this type of service. Later, these same companies came back to me to collaborate. Unfortunately, I had to turn it down because I had too many projects on the go. But what’s great is that I’ve learned to be versatile and to manage several things at the same time thanks to this course.
I received the Most Entrepreneurial Attitude award by JCI in 2015 and it was one of the most important milestones in my life.
I would have a lot to say about entrepreneurship, but to sum up, I think you have to be realistic in your decisions. Being visionary and having a good strategy is the key.
Has your young age ever been a problem in your career, or are you seen as an admirable professional?
I have to admit that my young age was detrimental, but it was also beneficial because I was seen as the brave and versatile youngster. Some people knew about my potential and submitted projects to me. So I had a lot of time to freelance and work on small projects, even though the concept was still unknown at the time.
My age was a problem when it came to reasoning with clients about quality and time spent on the job. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re going to turn in poor quality work. I had to make my voice heard and it was a real challenge.
On the other hand, my age has been beneficial to me, as I said. I have been fortunate enough to work with several clients both nationally and internationally, who have really appreciated the quality of work provided by a company I was managing when I was only 20 years old. Today, I am working with one of the biggest startups in the country, which runs the most visited website in Mauritius: lexpress.mu.
How do you feel about your career?
To be honest, I’ve come a long way and it hasn’t always been easy. I’m obviously proud and satisfied with everything I’ve done so far, but it took a lot of perseverance. Sometimes, to acquire certain things, you have to spend a lot of time. When my friends were having fun during the holidays after Form V, I was in my corner learning to code. In the end, you have to learn how to manage your time and use it intelligently.
I still have a long way to go, you never stop learning, even when you’re old!
Do you have a message for our readers?
First, we often read that the key to success is this or that. There is no real key to success. It is up to you to make up your own key, which will open the doors you wish to open. And for that, you have to be ready. You shouldn’t back down from anything until you’ve tried it, and I would even say that you have to back up to jump.
Secondly, I have a message for all the people who are working hard to fill their fridge and pay their bills: whatever you are going through, it may be temporary. Remember that it can be good for you, never give up if it’s not for the best! Also, learn from your mistakes, because success, even if it is more joyful, does not teach us anything.
Finally, if you want to be successful in everything you do, practice as much as possible. No one masters a subject from the start. Finally, if you want to meet cool and geeky people… don’t hesitate to go to the Code & Coffee organised by the Mauritius Software Craftmanship Community. There is also the Developers Conference, an annual event that will soon be in its third edition. By the way, I will be there this year 😉