Finding Work: From farming to Engineering

cord helps Engineers direct message other people looking to hire them. But finding work isn’t just about access to hiring managers…

Finding your best work is a life’s journey uncovered through an ongoing conversation with ourselves and the world around us.

The Best Work Stories podcast hosts conversations between Ben (Co-founder and CEO of cord) and Founders, CTO’s, Software Engineers and people in tech who are on their own journey to find their best work.


Ashif Nataliya (00:00):

So the best work for me is the work which we do and which creates the impact on the society to the people.

Ben Henley-Smith (00:10):

Where would you like to start Ashif? We could break it down all the way back to Oracle.

Ashif Nataliya (00:17):

So Oracle, it was my initial job when I started my career. So in Oracle, when we start, when we firstly come out from the university, after completing your graduation course or masters, we probably not have a big insight at how the market industry goes. So we choose the thing which at that time we think is a good career. So I personally chose it. The Oracle is a big company, I will start working on it.

Ashif Nataliya (01:00):

At that time I did not think much about the work because I just needed a job. So I got into whatever I was offered and I started working in the Oracle. So that was web application development using Oracle Application Express, it’s a tool used by Oracle. I have done well there as well, but after working one, one and a half years, I started feeling that I could do more because the skills and the knowledge which I gathered throughout my six years of education, I learned many different things.

Ashif Nataliya (01:42):

I learned networking, I learned the protocols, I learned the application development, I learned the backends, I learned the databases. The initial job, what we started as a software engineer, it does not offer me a work where I can utilize all of my skills. When you work for a couple of years, maybe one year, two years, then you started realizing that what exactly you need, where you need to be in the future. What is my interest? And then we start shifting the career.

Ashif Nataliya (02:17):

So that’s what happened with me. I’m not sure about other people. Because the education system and the background, what I come from, I did not have very great opportunity to understand the market world because I come from a very poor family, from the farmer background. So there are not many people educated in my town. And very less importance is given to the education in my place. So I did not have anybody to counsel with them to understand that what path I should do, that I had to do it my myself. And that might be the reason that initially I chose some software engineering part and then I moved to the DevOps.

Ben Henley-Smith (03:05):

Where did that inspiration come from to go into development when you come from a farming town?

Ashif Nataliya (03:13):

I loved the computers. So when I was a kid I loved the computers. I used to hear the computers can do these things. Computers can do these things. So I always wanted to know more about it. What is this computer? How it works, how the people work, what they do in that one. So I always had those curiosity from my childhood. Just to get the interest, I started a simple course when I was in the 11th standard where I was studying, just to get the basic knowledge, how about the computers.

Ashif Nataliya (03:50):

And then I had a very deep interest in that, that this is a cool thing, this is what I like it and I should pursue the opportunity in that one. And then I started the course, my graduate and in the computer science, I get to know more and I have done well. Because I was logically good from the beginning. I started liking the programs. I used to spend hours and hours in writing the programs from my starting graduation days. And that’s how I build up the interest.

Ben Henley-Smith (04:28):

How did your entry point being software engineering change to DevOps engineering over time?

Ashif Nataliya (04:37):

So as I said in the initial, I was a web application developer. I was doing it. I was working on it, but as I said, I was not able to utilize all of my skills, which I have learned throughout the years. And there are very good concepts of operating system, networking clouds. I liked it when I was studying it. I created the project in my university on the paging, how the operating system does the paging behind the scene.

Ashif Nataliya (05:07):

So those level of details I was really interested in, I really liked it. Even I did the programming in 85 micro processor. So that time I’m not all with the same interests and not all, batchmates like all the same subject. So with my batchmates, I was always more interested in the programming subjects compared to other theoretical subjects. I liked the programming and the coding.

Ashif Nataliya (05:40):

I used to create my own programs logics from the beginning, whereas my batchmates just used to mug up whatever the five programming instruction were there. So that’s why when I started the job as a software engineer, I was deep thinking that where I could utilize all of my skills, the maximum skill and the maximum knowledge which I have. And then I came to know about this DevOps.

Ashif Nataliya (06:11):

So when you move to the DevOps, it’s not a specific programming language, you should have to have knowledge about the networking, you should have to have knowledge about the different tools, you should have to have knowledge about monitoring tools, how the programming language is built, how the deployment should happen, how the scalable architecture should be. So those all knowledge you require when you work in DevOps and that’s what draw me into the DevOps.

Ashif Nataliya (06:44):

And obviously the cloud came into the picture and it was booming the AWS cloud, and the virtual network creation was fascinating stuff. We are moving out from the physical networking and moving to the virtual networking where we can actually decide network topology and how the networks has been created in the cloud.

Ashif Nataliya (07:06):

So I thought that, okay, this is the area where I can contribute all my skills. I mean the maximum skill, not still all, but at this maximum technical skill, I can contribute in the DevOps. And then I started searching opportunity to work on the DevOps side. I got a couple of projects, I did well, and then I keep getting the DevOps opportunities after that.

Ben Henley-Smith (07:32):

It’s fascinating how your broad interest in computing from when you’re younger manifested itself, both in your younger, but also in your professional career too, where your broad interest wants to break out and you want to do multiple different things. What brought you to the UK?

Ashif Nataliya (07:51):

So I was actually moved to the UK. It was an internal movement because they had a requirement in Manchester for this Manchester United project where I started working from India itself. And they wanted me to move here to work on the project because working closely with the customer and face to face is actually fast. So that’s how I initially moved to Manchester and worked on the Manchester United project.

Ben Henley-Smith (08:25):

And was that when you were with HCL?

Ashif Nataliya (08:27):

Yes. Correct.

Ben Henley-Smith (08:35):

Just a bit of background is worth knowing. Was it that you moved to HCL? Sorry, I’m misreading your CV. So you’ve been at HCL since 2014, but then it switches in 2017 where you’re onsite. I’ve got it. I’d love to know how work’s changed since you moved. There must have been cultural differences in the way that people work.

Ashif Nataliya (09:07):

Not much, because even in India, when I used to work, it was a corporate culture and the corporate culture is mostly same.

Ben Henley-Smith (09:21):


Ashif Nataliya (09:22):

And also I used to have meetings even from India. So mostly I knew the customer, I interacted with them a couple of times on the meeting call. So it was almost same for work-wise, but as per the lifestyle it’s a big difference. So living in India is definitely different than living in the UK.

Ben Henley-Smith (09:56):

Finding your best work is often a hidden journey that you don’t necessarily have to move jobs in order to be pursuing. We’re all in one way or another, trying to find our best work. How do you go about finding your best work, do you think?

Ashif Nataliya (10:15):

So the best work for me is on the work which we do and which creates the impact on the society to the people, that’s the best work for me. So the one best work, what I was talking about is at the Manchester United football club was a part of the blogging module. So what it does is when the live match is going on, the author does the blogging based on that. They will have a TV in front of them at the Manchester United and they have some match analyst or authors who does the blogging of the live match which is going on.

Ashif Nataliya (10:56):

Now, when they tell I can do the work. So the modules which are I was part of and I have created is basically facilitating them to quickly do the things, like quickly when the goals happens that quickly, the goal image will appear so they can send it, they write quickly that this was the history. They can publish the stats of the particular player that this was happened. So all using a single click. They just click and the stats will be available to [crosstalk 00:11:27] and then they post it.

Ashif Nataliya (11:28):

As soon as they post it, it will go live to thousands of people around the world. So even when the Manchester United match is going on and I open the app, my menu to the app, I can see the models which I was part of is being displayed and is being used. And when we see there are thousands of people have downloaded that app we can literally feel that, okay, the work which I have done is used by many people.

Ashif Nataliya (11:57):

And how good it is, consider that you are just doing your work, the match is going on you are busy in your work and suddenly you have an app in your phone, your app will show the popup notification that there’s a goal for Manchester United.

Ashif Nataliya (12:16):

So that functionality I was a part of. And when this goes live and the people use it, we feel good because we have made some impact. We have done the work which the people are using and it is useful for them. So that’s the best work for me.

Ben Henley-Smith (12:33):

How do you use that definition of best work and continue to pursue it? How do you let that inform how you… Fuck, that’s a terrible question. I guess I’m trying to ask-

Ashif Nataliya (12:47):

I think I understood the question. What do you mean to ask is how do I make sure that I will keep getting the best work [crosstalk 00:12:55].

Ben Henley-Smith (12:56):

How do you make sure that you continue to find your best work?

Ashif Nataliya (12:59):

So initially of my career, I used to get the project which has been assigned by the management. But in that case, sometimes we get the good projects where we get to get the good work, but after a couple of years of experience, now I choose the project. So when I get the requirement, I understand about that business. I understand what the role is and what contribution I will have to do it. And based on that, I will feel that, okay, that if I will be part of this project, I will have an opportunity to contribute something new.

Ashif Nataliya (13:37):

When I was changing my job, I got one company requirement, it’s Ecosia, it’s a search engine. It’s a European list company, I’m not sure if you have heard about it. I really liked it. And I really wanted to move ahead with that company, but somehow it didn’t work. The reason I liked it because Ecosia, the whatever search the people do, they actually plant a tree in the world for their search part.

Ashif Nataliya (14:13):

So I was a member of the nature club in my country and I was really involved in the nature stuff. And I really like this concept and that’s the reason I wanted to choose. So after a couple of years of experience, now I can choose where I can contribute more and where my contribution will make an impact to the world. So based on that, I will have to choose the project, based on that I will have to choose the company. And that’s how I make sure.

Ben Henley-Smith (14:44):

It sounds like you’re in a unique situation where once you have a fitting inside your company, by the nature of the company that you work in, you are able to work on multiple different projects. And I think there are many people who actually have to completely move companies in order to access that kind of variety.

Ashif Nataliya (15:08):

And that’s why I like the service-based consultancy company because even after choosing, I may feel that after a couple of months that I’m not able to contribute up to my 100% and I’m not getting my expectation, then it’s easy to change the project rather than changing the company itself. So in the consultancy company, we have hundreds of thousands of projects and we can choose another project which is more suitable for me.

Ben Henley-Smith (15:39):

How do you know when it’s the project that’s blocking you doing your best work versus the company that’s blocking you doing your best work?

Ashif Nataliya (15:50):

Mostly it’s not the project, but sometimes it’s business requirement and the management which might interrupt your best work. They won’t completely block it. I would not say they block it, but at the end of the day, the company has to see their business how they grow and they have to align with their business requirement.

Ashif Nataliya (16:24):

So they might have some priorities. My priorities might be different, but the business priority will be different based on the… It has to be aligned with their revenue. So sometimes the company plan that these are the priority and they ask a team to work on some different things. So sometimes I may have to work because I need to see their priority as well. It’s not like always I should get my prioritized work. But it depends that how long you are continuing that one. So if it is once in a while, for some couple of months, I could do it and I can, again, come back to what I’m interested in.

Ben Henley-Smith (17:08):

It’s really interesting how your broad interest as a child produced an interest in computing and what computers could do that then led you to software engineering, which then enabled you to have a more broader view and you go into DevOps. But then you also spend the majority of your professional career inside a company that then allows you to also be broad and work on multiple projects and in multiple companies at the same time. Are those choices deliberate?

Ashif Nataliya (17:41):

Yeah. Because for the couple of my interests, I had to choose the similar company. So previously I was in a product-based company. And as I said, when you are working in a product-based company, you might not get a chance to work on different products. You have to work on the same product, which is a good thing as well, that you will get expertise on that product. But the bad thing is you might not get a chance to work on new technology, new stack, new domains, because you will be constantly working for years and years in the same product.

Ashif Nataliya (18:21):

So because of that I had to make a decision at one point of time. The point cross was the last product-based company where I worked and deliberately I chose the service-based company. So I applied for the Cognizant and I got a job in the Cognizant. And then I started working in the Cognizant. So Cognizant is again, a service-based company.

Ben Henley-Smith (18:48):

Ashif it’s been incredible hearing your story and how you’ve managed to find such broad perspectives from the very beginning. I’ve loved it. Thank you for sharing it.

Ashif Nataliya (19:08):

Thank you so much, Ben. It was really nice talking to you as well.



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