In Loving Memory of Invesco

In Loving Memory of Invesco

Invesco... The subject of discussion here. And what a subject it is, indeed.

What Invesco is about?
If I'm given hundred chances to start talking about Invesco, there won't be any instance where I would stop after saying that it was just another project that I worked on in my first ever workplace i.e. NorthBay Solutions.

No, it was not merely a project, it was an experience. It was a miniature version of a complete life that I spent there.

             An unforgettable journey...!

Need a walkthrough from point zero?

As goes for the rest of the journey, the start of the journey was also wisely plotted by fate. It all began with one of the Architects resigning from Northbay right in the middle of phase 1 of this project while I was busy satisfying my desires of working on a Machine Learning project named Carnival Cruise Lands. My first ever project as a lead, the team sitting in row next to the Invesco area (or should I say Invesco battlefield that turned into a fun playground later).

April 2018 - Being appointed as a replacement of the leaving Architect, I had to sit aside and grasp the complete domain of Invesco going through code myself while taking care of group level permissions for AWS accounts with Sameer, the Lead Consultant (LC) of the project.

The phase 1 ended with me delivering the final demo of the platform we developed and rest of the team praying in the conference room with their hands raised up in air so that the system doesn't break during demo as there was 50 percent chance of that happening...! We had a good luck that night. However, the project was a complete mess towards the end of the phase to the point that it resulted into lots of resource shuffling in offshore team and completely new onshore technical team except LC, with the major addition of Saad Khabir, the Solution Architect (SA) of the Project.

July 2018 - This man who we call SaadK now, bashed me so hard on his first call with me that I started questioning my own existence and technical expertise. I remember talking to one of my friends right after the meeting exclaiming that I am 'feeling bulldozed'. Even though I wasn't probably the right target at that time but I'm really glad that it happened that day because after that I came to know what was expected of me as a lead, and where do I stand currently. A big thanks to SaadK for that, whom I always consider my technical mentor.

Golden Time of Invesco - Phase 2

Life at Invesco became dream come true after that - July 2018 to Dec 2018. Want to know the ingredients of an ideal work environment? Here you go:

  • Core delivery group - A gang of 4, 5 friends doing the unforeseen heavy lifting with rest of the team pitching in at their own pace.
  • Games being necessary part of the day, every day, ranging from Rung to Puerto Rico to Monopoly to what not. No matter how tense the situation, the team always agreed to make-up for this fun time from home resulting in negligible delays in deliverables.
  • Evening snacks, dahi bhallay, laddu peethian, fruit chat, fresh juice, salads and impromptu hangouts
  • Inauguration of Invesco Tuck Shop in the team area
  • Collection of fines at anything possible with or without reason so as to spend on the team itself. Of course, that came with lots of fun arguments teasing one another to the point where one starts wondering if he earned the money legally or not... (A moment of silence for those who didn't understand this, three moments of silence for those who did)
  • Frequent birthday party celebrations in meeting rooms, as for such a large team the next birthday was always only few days ahead.
  • An unforgettable tour to Greenfields with special thanks to the Onshore Team who did all they could to make it happen for the team, even though they weren't going to be part of it. Such was the camaraderie.

Call of Duty - Project on Ventilator - Phase 3

March 2019 - Every good thing comes to an end and so was the case with the golden period. As it happens, the customer who was focusing on functional aspects only, ignoring all the prior alarms raised by the team, suddenly switched gears to performance and SLAs. It appeared that performance against SLA metrics was so bad (as it wasn't the focus ever) that Invesco's continuation was at stake. To add fuel to the fire, the time when the heavy lifting team was supposed to deliver, it fell victim to misapprehensions unable to distinguish the fine line between professionalism and self-righteousness. So much so that the CEO of the company was sure that the project is a goner and that the client couldn't be saved. Even pulling SaadK out of Invesco in favor of some other project was also the talk of the town.

Then came the tenure of 6 weeks that Sameer bought for the team from customer whereas SaadK, Saba Ayub and myself worked for 16-18 hours daily (including weekends) for that whole time to meet the SLAs and eventually sealing the deal for Phase 4.

Firefighting - A New Normal - Phase 4 This phase was largest of all, started in June 2019 and ended in February 2020. The phase 4 was also never a smooth ride. As the customer was asking for more feature enhancements keeping SLAs in check, the team was also making sure to fight all the challenges amidst the the challenges of loss of focus here and there. People kept resigning, new members kept getting training and the leadership was always catching its tail.

It was in this phase when I personally went through a lot and learnt many things the hard way. My belief became even more firm that technical challenges are always easier to deal with as compared to dealing with human challenges. I also adapted myself to focus more on the operational side of the project because Team Lead is not just a technical lead. It's about leading the team doing whatever it takes, be it handling the customer, grooming the team, fighting for resources, introducing the processes, setting the standards or inspiring the people around by leading from the front. I tried my level best to reach that goal and guess what, in the process I learned that leadership is indeed a very lonely position.

I won't miss mentioning that up to this point, the snack parties, the games and all the fun side of the picture was still intact. How could we go through all this without feeding the child inside us.

Extra Topping - Corona-fied - Phase 5

The phase started with Global Pandemic named Corona (Covid-19) making its way to each and every corner of the world. It impacted the economies in different areas, for good or for bad. Some businesses with good intentions were severely damaged and some businesses took cover of the name of pandemic to mend their own mistakes or increasing their profit margins even more. Who knows who did what but the general masses had to face the music in all the cases.

How Invesco was affected is also another story but to cut to the chase we lost all the good people we trained and fought for inclusion in the team, at some point in the past. We even lost the Project Manager (PM) who was the life of the team in all the good and the bad times.  He had this one ability to listen to the people in distress and taking stance for them and eventually earning the title of 'punching bag' of the team. He used to call me Ertugrul, for reasons that only few people understand and I like to keep it that way. He was also the one who named me 'Baba-Voss' (protagonist of See - the first show premiered on Apple TV), again for the reasons that are obvious to everyone in the team and I like to keep it also that way.

The people left behind were burdened even more. The Work-from-Home (WFH) was a challenge in itself too. Resultantly, in general, the people fond of taking ownership of things across the whole industry had to put even more hours to ensure the quality delivery.

The customer, on the other hand, also started taking steps to rely less on our team and develop the expertise in their own company. It felt so ironical that we had to train the customer ourselves to reduce their dependency on us. This phase culminated in July 2020.

Uncertainty Continues - Phase 6

Will Corona be over? Uncertain...!
Will offices now open up? Uncertain...!
Will this be the last phase? Uncertain...!
Will we ever get any good backup resources? Uncertain...!
Will the bleeding of resources from the team stop? Uncertain...!

Amidst all this uncertainty, I resigned...!
One of those toughest decisions that I had to make.
But if you can't make a difference and correct things out over a course of 6 months, there is no point, at least for me.

Leaving behind the baby you nurtured, leaving behind the bond of 8+ years you develop with one place and the people around, leaving behind a legacy of never falling short of expectations, leaving behind so many memories that you can never forget in the whole lifetime... it's not an easy task and you only realize this once you actually take that step.

I am leaving the Project Invesco in good hands with the hopes that the legacy would be continued and I would feel happy seeing this project thrive for months and years to come. Phase 7 is all set to start from Nov 3, 2020 for which the team and all the stakeholders have my blessings and best wishes.

As I am writing this, I am not exactly sure where would I go, what would I do... I haven't taken any traditional path in life and so is the case this time around. This is the end of the phase 6. In my last days, I still am leading the team, and I still am working on all the fronts just like it is my first day. I have completed my last story peering with Fatima and release/2.51.2 is my last release, my last coding contribution for this tremendous family. As it stands currently, Nov 2, 2020 will be my last day in the company and with Invesco too, officially.

Adios, Amigos!