College Dropout to CTO > Post > Blog
Success Stories, Management and Leadership. Thursday, Feb 2, 2023
Inspired by those who carve their own path, in this edition Careers360 took a dive into searching for a round peg in a square hole but right here from Sri Lanka!
Chamindu Munasinghe, is a college dropout who self learnt his way to excel in the IT industry and become the CTO of three companies. Are you interested to learn how he self-learnt his way to the top? Are you fascinated to learn how he landed his first job? Or are you simply excited to know how he took the jump from a development to a CXO level?
We will tell you! Check out our interview with Chamindu on our YouTube channel:
The current CTO of Azend Technologies, Chamindu, says he first took an interest in the technology field when he was very young with his Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer at home, where his passion for programming started.
How did you self-learn your way to the top? What is your secret?
“I think you have to really love what you do” for self-learning. When I started, resources were not as freely available as today. For one thing, the internet was not as widespread or a dominant source of learning at the time. My sources of learning were making sure to invest my time in reading a lot of books and trying things out by myself through trial and error. Investing my time to broaden my learning curve is how I chose to self-learn and it is not a big revealing secret in today’s time. It worked for me because self-learning was my driving passion.
How did you land your first job and survive in such a dynamic industry?
Although I was a dropout, I applied for a job at a software company and was hired as a junior developer but what kept me in my job is that I the deep interest I had in my work and wanting to learn more to climb up my career. But the IT industry demands agile personalities. To stay up to date in the IT industry or the computer science field,” is like trying to drink from a fire hose”. Being a very young industry, it’s very easy to get lost in the surround sound in terms of what to learn and what to do. I believe the key factor is when you work with a set of tools, example a programming language, my advice is, then only confining yourself to learn how to use a tool for work, seek out how the tool itself works, from writing a program and running the program to the chip level of its philosophy. You need to be able to know how the internals of your tools are working as this was the best for me to stay up to date in such a dynamic industry.
How did you take the jump from developer to CXO level position?
There are multiple factors therefore it is unfair to be a reductionist for this question. But one thing is for certain, to become a leader or lead a group of people you need to be able to communicate. Day in day out you need to be able to speak to a variety of customers and convince each one of them your technical solutions. Secondly, I believe tech individuals need to be able to let go of the mentality that if you are good at something that means only you can execute it. Especially when working with a group of people, you need to let go of the idea of having control of how things should work.
Advice for the youth?
One thing I notice is that a lot of graduates out of universities, they think they are learning their course work & modules just to pass the exam and to get the credit. It is not that. You must be prepared to continuously learn. “So basically, I might be a drop out of college but if you don’t know your algorithms and data structures, I will not hire you” he adds with a smile.
Also, when you graduate, there are hundreds of graduates alongside you. All of them are receiving the award for that degree. So how do you set yourself apart?
Fortunately, it’s very easy to set yourself apart today, there are many resources on the internet these days. You can do free courses, take part in programming competitions like Hacker Rank, open up a GitHub profile and do some pet projects. These will definelty catch the eye of any recruiter!