Interview with Abhas Srivastava, Project Manager at WebCreek
One of the proven successes of IT-dedicated companies is their multiculturality. When I was commissioned to do an interview with a WebCreek team member from India, my excitement doubled when I learned that he also spoke Spanish. However, he preferred to respond in English, feeling more comfortable that way. So, I invite you to get to know our Project Manager. He just recently joined but has a whole life of experience and dedication. From Medellín, I introduce you to Abhas Srivastava.
Rafa: How did you decide to do a Master’s degree in business, after having graduated from the Shri GS Technology and Science Institute in India?
Abhas Srivastava: I studied a Bachelor of Sciences in computation, really fascinated by technology and computers. After working for 10 years in this field, I really loved it. I held different roles: as a developer, as an analyst, giving technical support, providing consulting and tech leadership. So, I realized that I wanted to take this turn from technology to business. That’s why I went for a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). Because of all my technology experience, my idea was to go deeper into tech business, exploring from this focus, understanding the crucial decisions of the field, how to manage technology administration from this perspective– so I decided to widen my horizons respecting businesses and corporations. And I was able to do that with this MBA.
Rafa: What, in particular, made you decide to study at the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, instead of any other place in the world?
Abhas Srivastava: Well, when I decided to study my Master’s degree, I was working in Colombia. And really, I wanted to learn about European culture and the opportunities that exist there. Another reason was the language. After living a number of years in Colombia, I felt quite comfortable with Spanish, so going to Spain, with locals, seemed like a good idea. I could relate well and easily with the people. I looked into various options and finally opted for this public university. You know, nowadays, education is really expensive, and this school was more accessible. I could reach my goal in one year, with cool people, which ended up perfect for me. So I decided on Carlos III University to do my Master’s in Business Administration. I remember that, when I read about the university, it ended up being really international. And that’s how it was: my approximately 25 classmates represented 21 different nationalities. It was a very enriching experience to grow alongside these people from all over the world. Definitely, reading all the reviews of the Universidad Carlos III also helped to make my decision.
Rafa: What would you say were your most significant experiences during your years at Bancolombia?
Abhas Srivastava: For me, Bancolombia was a positive experience. They were one of the clients when I was working with a company in India, Infosys. So I had the opportunity to travel to Colombia and work with them. My first years were really hard, creating a system for Bancolombia that fulfilled their expectations. It was a challenge for me, but this project had really good talent from both India and Colombia. So my time in Latin America started in 2012, which has been a wonderful challenge. Colombia was very dear for me and was a deciding factor during that time for both my personal and professional life. I had to adjust my personality in order to live and survive there; I consider my years at Bancolombia key in order to overcome all that.
Rafa: What relationship do you see between the bank and the energy industry, now that you’re working with WebCreek?
Abhas Srivastava: Well, at WebCreek, my clients are from the energy sector, but technologically, the work that I’m doing is quite similar to what I did previously. Throughout my experience in banking, everything revolved around loans, deposits, payments, savings accounts, and all kinds of products– all developed in bank systems. Now that I’ve made a turn towards the energy sector, the clients that I manage move more around investments, also developing programs, web and mobile applications. I see that I can apply a lot of my previous experience in my current work. The key to understanding the projects is the technology, which is what I learned at Infosys, and also the experience I gained at Bancolombia. These help me apply my knowledge in my current development process: how to develop parallel projects, how to define the projects, and how to turn in a quality product to our clients, keeping in mind their requirements and needs. So, in a certain way, it’s similar to the financial sector, which has been very valuable for me during the time I’ve been working at WebCreek.
Rafa: Tell me a bit about your stay and function in China, as a mentor for Infosys.
Abhas Srivastava: Yes, my stay in China took place during my first years at that company. It was the first assignment that I did outside India. In reality, it was a great challenge because of the character of the Chinese people and the difficulty of the language. This was before 2012, before going to Colombia. From what I remember, it was at a moment in my life when my learning curve was at its best. I was sent as a mentor to guide the Chinese team. Although I worked for Infosys, we had another team that had to turn in projects on time and in their correct forms; so that’s how I got in contact with many people from different countries and ideologies. It was a very important experience that paved the way for my arrival in Colombia. Being in China helped me; I lived with different people, with a complex language. However, it was a complete experience, very challenging, and I like the time that I spent there. Although it was only 6 months, it was a great experience for me.
Rafa: What do you think about cryptocurrency and about FinTech?
Abhas Srivastava: Well, when I was working at Bancolombia, I was always very engaged with everything related to technology and banking in the financial sector. I can tell you more about FinTech, since cryptocurrency is part of this system, and FinTech is basically technology applied to finances, which we constantly use. It’s something useful for banks and users, simplifying the processes in which we’re involved. However, there’s been a change between consumers and users, from previous times until now. FinTech is present in various sectors, such as industrial, communications, banking, administration, etc. FinTech is also related to the creation of cryptocurrency. There are already various types, but I believe that the main market continues to be traditional banking. This topic of FinTech will explode in the coming years, and will be a common topic in banks; for example, with peer to peer payments, rents, and similar type transactions. I can add that more and more companies are entering FinTech. That’s where there are resources, positioning blockchain at the top of their business. And although cryptocurrency is under the same umbrella, I think that FinTech will open the door to a new format of transactions, payments, and all kinds of understanding and control of the financial system.
Rafa: We recently discovered your chef side. So, if WebCreek were a dish that you cook, what ingredients would it have and what would it be? A soup, stew, salad, or dessert?
Abhas Srivastava: Haha, I would say that… a stew is like curry, right?
Rafa: Aha, yes…
Abhas Srivastava: Well, I like it; I’d say that it would be a curry. For me, WebCreek is like the curry that we make in India. It has a lot of ingredients and it’s a little bit spicy. And at WebCreek, we a large talent pool, a ton of developers, project leaders, managers. So I’d say that we are very rich with knowledge and, like curry, we mix all these flavors, these talents. The final dish is enriched with all these ingredients that are the nucleus of the preparation, like our company.
This makes me very happy to work with such talented and friendly people. I feel like I’m in the right place now, enjoying this delicious curry.
Rafa: Right on. Those are all the questions I had prepared for you, but you shared some interesting details about your sports profile through Slack. How do you combine this with your professional life?
Abhas Srivastava: Well, to start, my parents, especially my dad, always insisted that I practice sports. So throughout my school and university life, I was involved in different kinds of sports. Really, it helped me to develop my personality, to be part of a team, and to work at a certain role within it. All that has carried through these years. During university, I played ping pong, cricket, and other always athletic activities. Then, when I joined Infosys, I kept playing those sports, which helped me to get to know people likewise interested in them. For example, when I came to Colombia, I found a cricket club. It was full of gringos, you know, as they call the expats. I got along well with them, even representing Colombia in a number of South American tournaments. The team was made up of people from England, Australia, South Africa, and also Colombia. It was a very valuable experience. It helps you to free your mind and create space to learn new things. Also, being in a group like that, you learn to play with them, to collaborate, and to learn how to work together as a team. That helped me a lot. We traveled to Chile, Brazil, and different places representing Colombia, which I really liked. I try to practice some sport at least every weekend. It’s something that’s now a part of my life and, in some way, is always reflected in my work.
Rafa: Other than sports, what do you consider important about your experience living in Latin America?
Abhas Srivastava: I want to tell you something about myself that’s important, which you know, that I’m married to a Colombian. In 2012, when I came to Colombia for the first time, I met my wife. We got married in 2015, married here in Latin America and then in India. Technically, I’ve gotten married 4 times: 2 times in the civil court of each country, and then through the church in Colombia and later in India, according to my country’s beliefs. This is something almost no one knows, that I have a beautiful Colombian wife. This was one of the reasons that I decided to come to live here. This detail in something that seems important for me to share.
Rafa: Let’s see, so, how did you meet each other and how is your relationship with her family?
Abhas Srivastava: We both worked for different companies and our client was Bancolombia. That’s how we met and we kept deepening our relationship through common friends. 2 years later, we got married in Colombia, and later in India. She is from the south of Colombia, from Nariño, a really beautiful place. So, at Christmas time, I have two families: one in India and another in Colombia. I love them as much as my wife, and they also love me. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Finally, after a 20+ minute talk, I said goodbye to Abhas. It was fascinating to prove that, sometimes, work life, destiny, and love are all part of the same code. It’s one where unexpected unions are valuable lessons that, just like in ping pong, can give us a double victory: uniting talents of business and technology with ancient personal beliefs that synchronously correlate, from the other side of the world, where our soulmate is waiting to join us on the most important project of all: the happiness of this mortal life.