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By pt93903
Published: Apr 06 2009 / 07:04

One of my friends who is an engineer at a Japanese automaker's Indian subsidiary told me about how the visiting Vice President (who was Japanese) rolled up his sleeves and jumped in to fix an engineering problem that had come up on the line and of the hush that fell on the factory floor with the Indian managers looking distinctly uncomfortable. Specifically in software, when is the last time you saw someone very high in the company hierarchy do a code checkin? My last boss at MegaCorp was hired later than I was and the first thing he said to me when we met was (remember I was also a "manager" on paper), "You know, any monkey can code, but we need good managers".
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MTaylor replied ago:

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Really interesting post. I wonder how common this is? Are you embarrassed to be seen as 'just a coder'? I'm not, in fact the thought never occurred to me.

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pt93903 replied ago:

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This is an 'Indian' thing as far as I can tell, I've personally faced 'being looked down upon' quite a few times.

Things will change though, we need more articles like this for people to realize it.

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Jim Wilson replied ago:

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I've seen this cultural aspect used as an argument against outsourcing software development to India. That is, most excellent Indian programmers with 5 years or more experience are expected to "move up" into management, or be looked down upon for keeping with their passion. Therefore almost all programmers are doing it because they're still new and simply haven't had a chance to climb the corporate ladder.

It's good to hear that this stereotype is indeed culturally accurate, and not just an American programmer's knee-jerk reaction to the threat of outsourcing.

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greeneyed replied ago:

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Unfortunately, it's not just an "Indian" thing. Here in Spain, someone that has been coding for more than x years is looked upon suspiciously, as going up the ladder means moving to management and abandoning coding. That implies that if you are good developer, you are supposed to be a manager soon... in the end, it usually means businesses waste good developers that end up being bad managers.
I'm not implying that all developers will end up being bad managers, but being a good surgeon does not mean you'll do wel as a Hospital Manager, and the problem is that people accept, even if they don't like it and know they are no-good at it (usually related), just because they are expected to do so.
Sad and wasteful.

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AllureFX replied ago:

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The reason IMO is that in India (and elsewhere) people look at "Programmer" as a job, not a career description (like "Doctor," "Engineer," "Entrepreneur," etc.). Nobody expects Indian doctors or engineers to "move up" to have a different title/description.

Because "Programmer" is a job, and usually a starting job, it's natural to expect it to change as they move along in their career. May be what we need a new term. "Developer" probably won't help, but "Software Engineer" might.

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