From storage development to building large features, we catch up with Software Engineer Suprio Das

Where are you from?

I grew up in Kolkata, in eastern India. However, I spent much of my career working in storage development in Bangalore, which is further south.

 

Where did your passion for tech start?

When I started my engineering undergrad, I used a computer for the first time. I had many interests, I would have liked to study pure science (physics) or electronics engineering, but the job market in those fields is tough and you often would need a PhD. Computer science helped me get a good job straight out of university with Symantec.

 

Can you tell me about the patent you developed while working there?

Symantec has an invention disclosure program. Anyone can invent and disclose. You don’t need to ask anybody, “Is this patentable? Is this a good idea or not?”

I submitted an idea related to storage optimization. There were at least three rejections on similar topics prior to my application. So it was really unlikely that my idea would be accepted. But nevertheless, I gave it a shot.

The filtering committee reviews everyone’s ideas based on business merit. There are three possible outcomes: they might reject it, they might ask for additional information, or they might go for a patent.

Thankfully, they accepted my idea after a bit of modification. They took someone else’s work and merged my idea into it to make a single patent. I got a bonus and they gave me a gift – a big picnic bag with plates, a full cutlery set and a bottle opener. It was pretty nice!

 

What did you know about New Zealand before you moved here?

I moved here without visiting first. I did my research and watched a lot of YouTube videos: 14 Things to See in New Zealand, What type of backpackers accommodation to stay in, Where to hire a car or bicycle, Top restaurants in Auckland. I was an expert tourist before moving here. [laughs]

 

Moving halfway around the world is a big change. What was your experience like transitioning from India to Christchurch?

The cities I lived in in India were crowded. 10 million people live in Bangalore alone – twice the size of New Zealand’s entire population. More people live in a single city than in the whole country here. I like living somewhere less crowded. It’s quite nice.

 

What attracted you to work at Comet?

It’s rare to come across a data company in New Zealand, particularly in the product development space. When I saw the Comet advertisement asking for someone with a storage development background, I was really excited and immediately felt that this could be my next company.

When I joined Comet, it was on the smaller side, but they were growing at a really nice rate. Because I spent my career in different aspects of the storage industry, it was a good fit for me. The fact is everybody needs backup. No matter where you store the data.

 

Have you had new experiences in this role?

In previous roles, the scope of the features I worked on only required about two months of work. The feature that I am leading development on right now is much longer, it has many pieces. I’ve had to do quite a bit of research to form the development pathway. The fundamentals are the same, but different problems give you an opportunity to learn new things. And that keeps the work interesting.

 

What is collaboration like amongst the development team?

Because of the size of our team, everyone knows what everyone else is working on. We aren’t stuck in endless meetings for hours. It maximizes the amount of time we spend focused on the product.

For example, I sit next to Oscar who is working on the GUI side of the large feature I am working on. We can discuss things and make decisions efficiently. At larger companies that would go to an entirely different team, you wouldn’t know who is doing that job. Here we don’t have that hierarchy. I like smaller teams because they are often more productive.

 

What keeps you inspired and passionate about the work?

I really see Comet as a promising company. It has a big future. For each configuration, it needs to be scalable to work at that level and that brings new complexities with it. As the company grows, I am looking forward to growing with our clients because that brings new and interesting challenges.

 

How have you found the work culture at Comet?

The good thing about Comet is I feel comfortable. It’s easy to come and go and do the work on your own schedule. I like that flexibility.

 

What do you enjoy doing in your off time?

I watch a lot of animation and Disney movies with my young son. He’s almost three and he’s at the age where he’s asking lots of questions which is fun.

 

What’s the most remarkable place you’ve traveled?

After my wife and I got married, we visited Lakshadweep – a small archipelago of islands about 400 kilometers off the western coast of India. The environment is pristine. Limited tourists are allowed at once to preserve the natural environment. There is a coral reef and sandy beaches with beautiful views. The water is full of colorful fish and underwater plants. The nature there is unspoiled.

 

Do you have a favorite food?

I don’t have a favorite, I like to try all kind of things – as long as they’re cooked! I was watching a YouTube video where a Japanese cook was preparing shrimp. I would be perfectly happy if they fried that! I have no reservations about food. I’ll try all sorts of things.