Over-compensated to death

I am currently in Bangalore meeting with software folks of all levels of experience – from fresh graduates to people who have returned from abroad with years of experience.

As I observe and consume all the data that I am gathering, on one side I am happy to see that the place is bubbling with enthusiasm but on the other side I am disappointed about what this is doing to young software engineers. Let me focus on the second part. Here is some background.

What gets offshored in a big way is commodity stuff. So there are lots of people working on commodity stuff. Case in point: I talked to an young software engineer working on a project for a large chain store in the United States. I talked to her about her project and while she was very passionate about the project – she was maintaining the email campaign management system that the chain store was using. That was on the positive side. On the negative side, she had no clue about the “customer.” She thought that the chain store had 4 stores but in reality, the chain store has more than 1000 stores across the United States. She had a great understanding of the email campaign management system but she had no idea of the end-to-end application and its business impact. She had been working on this for more than a year. That was sad. Of course, when we talked about her compensation, there was a pleasant(?) surprise. I thougt she was way over-compensated for the kind of job that she was doing. After a quick coaching session, she got what the “real” problem was.

The over-compensation was a slow poison. The company was happy to retain her and over-compensating was the quickest way to do that. In this case, the compensation was such that it would be very hard for her to take a job where she will have the opportunity to work on cutting edge technologies but with a lower compensation. She will get a feeling that she is “sacrificing” something (money) to go after her dreams. In reality, she is not “sacrificing” anything – she is infact escaping from the hand-cuffs imposed by the over-compensation.

How about you? Is your current compensation holding you back from making the right decisions?

Something to think about over this weekend.