My name is Sivasankar Ponnambalam and I go by Shiva. I am an MBA ’11 student at Johnson, Cornell University. I have significant experience in the technology industry working across startups and Cisco Systems. I graduated with a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Kansas on a NASA fellowship. I worked as a Software Engineer at Cisco in the Bay Area on one of the most widely deployed routing softwares in the world. I founded, managed and sold a mobile software startup specializing in targeted advertisements. Recently, I interned at GE Capital as a Strategy Consultant identifying emerging trends in the digital media industry and investment opportunities for GE’s venture capital fund Peacock.
My parents christened me Shivashankar Ponnambalam and called me Shiva. When I was 15, they decided the “h”s in my name weren’t making the Sun-Gods and Hindu-Gods happy, so, we had to sadly let go of the “h”s. (AI: I should write a post on superstitions and dated Indian practices) Now, my name in its full glory is Sivasankar Ponnambalam, though, I still go by Shiva.
I will candidly admit that the “About Me” section is a turn off for me. But, I have often found it useful to read blogs and quickly check for “credibility”. I understand I should turn up my “credibility” factor up a few notches..particularly after the previous paragraph 🙂
Here’s my attempt at an honest and hopefully, quick “About Me” unencumbered by the confines of an interview, specific audience or an inclination to be unnecessarily eloquent:
First-15 (years of my life):
I was born and raised in Madras (Chennai), a metropolis in Southern India. My dad’s a high-level telecom executive and mom’s a scientist. I’m one of those very few people who do not speak Hindi, the language spoken by a majority of the Indian populace. So, I have to speak in English with most of the Indians just as the rest of the world.
I was a jack-of-all-trades growing up. I was good at sports, music, yoga, dance, computers and academics. I was not exceptionally brilliant in any of those though. I took to books really early and read easily around 1000 books (crap, fiction and non-fiction) by 15. I played around with a lot of gadgets (monstrous phones) that my dad used to bring home and read a lot about technology. As a result, I can tell you how PCs were invented (thanks to Steve Wozniak & Steve Jobs – See http://www.geeksugar.com/Steve-Jobs-Debuts-Apples-First-Macintosh-Computer-Ad-7805453), how Operating Systems came into being, how Linus created a revolution in 1991 from his room in Helsinki, how Internet became what it is, how Yahoo/Amazon beat the crap out of the market in the late 90s, how Google was laughed at.. In short, I have knowledge of how technology & computers evolved over the last 30 years and why some players won and why some lost.
Second-15 (technically, 13 years of my life):
I did my Bachelors in Computer Science and my fascination with technology kept growing, keeping pace with my belief that I could take on the world. I came to the US for my Masters in Computer Science at the University of Kansas on a NASA Fellowship. I chose not to go to other schools because of this one reason. I worked extensively on Operating Systems Research and understood the semiconductor industry as well. I dabbled a bit with startup ideas including a targeted mobile advertisements provider using text messages which I co-founded, managed and then sold. Right out of graduate school, I chose to work at a wireless startup over VMware (pre-IPO). Let’s just say, I do wonder about that… 🙂 I moved to the valley worked at Cisco Systems as a Software Developer on one of the most widely deployed routing softwares on the planet with a truly international team and clients.
I decided that solving problems at a strategic level leveraging my wide knowledge of the technology industry would make me really happy. I chose to do a 1-year MBA program at Johnson, Cornell University. I graduate next May (2011).
1.) This blog will serve as a platform for me to discuss some of the technology hypes, voice my opinions about technology and also offer a peek into a Johnson MBA student’s life.
2.) Hopefully, some of you will benefit from my rants and ramblings.
3.) Hopefully, I will improve as I go along because this is my first blog.
4.) Please excuse my narcissistic tendencies.
5.) This is my blog and so, it might be strewn with my prejudices, however much I try to retain objectivity.