At AlphaKOR, our Software Development team plays an important role in driving your businesses further. Whether it’s automating your business processes or designing the app of your dreams, our Software Development team can make it happen. At the head of any successful team is a team leader.
Meet Tauseef Ahmad, AlphaKOR’s Software Development Manager. Tauseef has been part of the AlphaKORian family for over 8 years now, bringing his experience, expertise, and leadership to our team. In this interview with Tauseef, we gain insight into what the average week looks like in the Software Development Manager position, what skills are essential to the role, the importance of education, advice for those who are interested in this career path, and more!
What drew you to the software development manager position?
I always think about how I can be successful, and if you ask what drew me to this position, it’s that hunger for success.
Before I came to Canada, almost 10 years ago, I was working in a Software Manager type of role and was leading a team involved in various activities to develop a decision support system. Leaving that position and coming to Canada, I was starting from zero which is something that was driving me to get this position that I am in now.
What educational background did you need to secure this role?
Back home, I completed my Bachelor’s in Physics and Mathematics and I wanted to be a Nuclear Scientist. After I graduated from university, there was a competition exam which I did not end up clearing. At the time, computer science was a new thing similar to math and physics, so I said, “let’s do it”! I completed my master’s in computer science which was a big transition for me coming from my bachelor’s degree. After that, I took some more technical courses, as well as gained experience. With experience, you learn a lot of other things such as management.
Were there any leaders that you’ve been inspired by through your experience?
Yes, I’ve had three inspirational leaders. One of them is back home. He was the kind of person who had a unique skill set as far as communication is concerned. He was awesome at communicating and making his points understandable which really inspired me.
The second person is Sathish [Director of Design, AlphaKOR Group]. I learned a lot from him in terms of interacting with clients, like where you can say what is possible and what might not be possible. As a manager, knowing how to set and communicate the scope is something very important to know.
The third person is Ali [Chief Information Officer]. I always dreamed to have someone to report to like him who is very knowledgeable in their domain and who can guide you at any time, while not getting into the macro levels.
How would you describe the average day in your role?
As a Software Development Manager at AlphaKOR, I wear many hats. The average day involves client management, communication, development, meetings, task delegation, and planning among other tasks.
In the morning I lead team communication and set up their tasks. This involves knowing what my team has done so far and planning for what we are targeting that day. Client communication involves setting up their expectations, establishing their requirements and getting their feedback through presentations and meetings. It is very important for us to meet deadlines with clients as well.
What is it like working for a managed service provider?
Working for a managed service provider, I am always wearing multiple hats. Right now, I’m working on about six different projects, but sometimes I am dealing with more. About 35-40% of my time is spent on client and team communication. This typically involves progress updates and setting expectations. I work on multiple projects at a time rather than focusing on one at a time.
At AlphaKOR we deal with a lot of different industries, and we automate their business processes. There is beauty in working for a managed service provider because in the software industry you are dealing with almost every business which gives you a lot of knowledge about different industries.
How do you manage your time working on multiple projects at a time?
It’s all about prioritizing every task! Not every client wants a progress report every day, some only want an update once a week, bi-weekly, or perhaps once a month if it is a big project. It’s not too difficult to manage 10 projects at a time.
When programming, switching between tasks or clients can take a little bit of time to get into the mode where you feel you are making progress or speeding up your workflow. With each task, I know how much time it will require so I keep that in mind for myself and my team. Then I can set up tasks based on this knowledge.
One of my responsibilities is knowing the skill set of my team, knowing how long they will take to do a task, and then I can schedule and challenge my team based on that. It’s a fun job.
What skill sets are critical to the Software Development Manager position?
The first thing is being knowledgeable in your domain and being technically good. You need to know what is possible, what is not possible, and be aware of the different technologies and tools available that you can use. You cannot be adept at everything, but you should have knowledge of the technology so when you are meeting with clients you can know what is possible and what is not and find out a way to get something done.
In the management position, communication is very important. You need to be very open, and sometimes you have to be straightforward and clear so that you can set expectations correctly, and other times you have to be diplomatic and understand the difference and play your cards accordingly.
In this role, another skill is being a team player and deciding how involved you are with your team. If you are not involved and have distance from your team, they’re not going to share their problems fully with you. If you are their boss, your team will not understand your problem.
By being friends with your team and keeping them with you all the time, your team is going to put in 100% effort because they’ll realize the task is not for the company alone, it’s also for society- so my attitude is “let’s do it together”. When you are involved with your team, you’ll learn more about their problems and try to resolve them. When your team is happy, you are happy too.
This is something that I have learned over the years. Being at AlphaKOR and having those people on your team that lift you up saves you a lot of time. We work well as a team.
What is the most exciting part about your job?
Completing tasks! It feels really good when you are working on a project, you finish it and deploy it and people are happy. When the users and your client are happy with your work, it gives you more confidence and makes me happy. There are many things that excite me, but this is one of the most exciting things where I feel real happiness. Seeing the happiness on the client’s faces when they see what they want is very exciting.
What is the least exciting part about your job?
Not finishing a task in time and having to reschedule a meeting. This is hard because when you have clients who are expecting to see something and you do not have it ready, it’s disappointing and you do not want to be in that position.
There may be multiple reasons why you cannot finish a project on time, and in that case, you can communicate those reasons in advance so your client is aware of what is going on so that there are no surprises. This ties into why communication is so important.
How do you hope to grow in your field of work?
I always believe improving your education helps you. That may not help you directly in your profession, but indirectly, it will help you to learn other things.
Having said that, I’m planning to go back to university. I completed my Master’s degree in Pakistan, and I want to complete a Master’s in Canada as well at the University of Windsor. I’m at a point where I am thinking about being an inspiration for my kids and so if I push them to study, I need to show them what I have done and encourage them to do better than me.
The beauty of working at AlphaKOR is that I can pursue my education while I am working. After I complete my Master’s it will add to my skill set where I can then take on more projects related to my new skill set.
What have you learned at AlphaKOR that has helped you grow on a personal level?
On a personal level, AlphaKOR allowing me to attend university while working is a big help! Also, working in an environment like what we have at AlphaKOR, you get to work and interact with people coming from different backgrounds and cultures. I love to learn more about other people. Personally, I feel that when you learn about different cultures and understand them, then you behave as a more well-rounded person in your society.
For someone who would like to obtain a position as a software development manager, what advice would you give to them?
I would say that obviously, technically you need to be good, but at the same time, you cannot be stubborn, which is very important. Even if you’re doing your own business, you cannot be stubborn until you know everything. By default, you should have a mindset that everything is possible and that you can do everything. You have to be well aware of technologies and be good in your own domain. It’s important to communicate clearly and well, without being rude or extremely straightforward. Communication is very important in our interactions and relationships.
When I was in school, there was someone who told me that computer science is something you always must be on your toes for and that the day you stop learning about the technology you will be dead professionally. It’s hard to keep up to date with everything, but you need to learn all the time and be hungry to learn! Education can only bring you up.
Careers in Business Technology
Are you an energetic and passionate individual who thrives on providing excellent service to both clients and fellow staff? If so, we want AlphaKOR to be the place you want to work. We want you to love your job. Because when you love your job, you’ll do great things. Come and do great things with us! To view our current openings, please visit our Career Opportunities page.