Pakistani Software Developers: Wake Up and Read This!

Without continual growth and progress, words such as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. – Benjamin Franklin

Ali, the Software Developer

This is a story about Ali.

Ali is 45-years old, has 20 years of experience and has been working at the same software house for the past 10 years. Like many of us, he is a computer science graduate and works as a developer. Considering his experience and age, the people around him often ask why he’s still just a programmer.

For Ali, the question does not carry any weight anymore. He arrives at the office around 9:00 am. After his arrival he does two things. One, he checks emails and second, he checks what tickets have been assigned to him that day. While sipping his tea, he browses Facebook, chuckles at funny pictures and videos and finally starts work.

Around 1:00 pm, he goes for prayers and lunch break and returns back to his seat at 2:00 pm. At 5:30 pm in the evening, he shuts down his computer, locks his drawers and leaves.

This is his daily routine. There has been no change in this for the past 5 years.

In a judgmental capacity, we don’t want to be like Ali right? Instead, we might just feel a little repulsed wouldn’t we?

We think that being an IT graduate, he should have been a project manager by now. He should have been earning double his measly 60k. While passing down the cubicles, people often stare at him with thinly veiled disgust. With his out of shape body, older-than-his-age looks, and mannerisms that have grown way too old, even if we aren’t repulsed, we surely don’t want to be him.

The Choice and Opportunities

Let me tell you something folks, you shouldn’t be like Ali. For him, there was always a choice but he did not pay attention. That is why he ended up where he is now.

Being a computer professional is all good but there are literally dozens of things you could specialize in. Just because you were taught a specific language does not mean you have to work on it professionally. Whether it’s Software Development, Business Analysis, Quality Assurance, Project Coordination, Networks, Security, Support, Implementation or Product Marketing, your education equips you to take on any of these.

But academia can direct you to a certain extent. Passionate teachers and mentors can help identify your field of interest in line with your education and personality, but what you wish to become will be yours and your choice alone. The most important thing is to find something you are truly passionate about and not get caged in by what you were taught or what you are expected to do.

Our Failure of Utilizing Our Human Resource Capital

Pakistan produces 15,000 IT graduates per year whereas local market demand is around 11,000 per annum although it’s rising. Only a handful of these professionals will excel in their careers, and even less will make a name in the international market. The rest will be on survival mode or leave the country.

Why is that? Why is it that with this awesome number of human resources, we are not able to boost the industry like our neighboring countries? Or are we all like Ali, unable to have faith in our own abilities, choosing instead to cruise through life seemingly on autopilot?

Suggestions for Pakistani Software Developers

Here are some areas which are lagging behind and have created huge gaps for opportunities, and if IT industry can support this with its resources we may have a lift off soon.

  • The Tourism Industry
      • It is needless to say that how rich Pakistan is in terms of natural habitat, but once someone tries to search Pakistan’s tourism industry online, there is a woefully low representation of Pakistan.
  • Land Reforms
      • Admit it. We don’t know how to make use of the land to make it efficient. Even if we do, we do it in populated urbanized areas. We don’t develop the lands that are in suburbs or rural areas. The reason is that no one has ever researched or collected data about it. A few NGOs have worked on it, but with limited access. It’s time Pakistani software folks step in in a big way.
  • Agriculture
      • Pakistan is an agricultural land, and 80% of our economy depends on it. Yet, how many technology startups and people we see regarding this huge arena of opportunity? Do the math yourself. Tech can help.
  • Sub Urban Outreach
      • Not everyone understands English and only 8% of Pakistan speaks Urdu. How many websites and applications we are developing that can be understood by the rest of the Pakistan, where the mobile and internet is now accessible to every corner of the country? Did you see the missing opportunity here?
  • Religion
    • We are also a culturally rich and religious country. Each sect has its own practices and norms. Even the dress code is different. But we fail to see this as an opportunity. Technology can make a huge difference here.

I may have included healthcare and education here as well, but what I have seen in the recent years is that these fields have gathered good amount of attention, but there is still much work to be done here.

It is time Pakistani software developers realize that they are worth more than what they’ve been led to believe. This requires showing initiative, thinking of out-of-the-box solutions for everyday problems that you and I can run over. Problems that, once solved, can make Pakistani lives much easier. It really shouldn’t be a Pakistan where the average individual is still seeking out the right definitions of his career and growth. Its time we put our foot down and stopped the brain drain. Only way to do that? To provide the right incentives for those who dare to dream big.

Its high time we stopped being a disinterested Ali, Nadeem, or Saad. It’s time we made our rightful mark and changed Pakistan’s fortunes for the better.