Monday, August 13, 2007

(Corporate) Culture and Parathas

Revi had promised to show Mike, a frequent visitor to India who works in Redmond, this good paratha place on Commercial street, Jason needed to go to Commercial Street to check up on a gift he was getting for somebody, Udai was the person that initially told Revi about this paratha place, and I like food and entertainment. So we all went.

Revi worked at Microsoft both in project teams and at MSR (but not as a researcher) before she left for graduate school, and Mike has been at MSR since about 1996. They told some amazing stories about the pre-dot-com-bust (and immediately post-dot-com-bust) days at Microsoft; mostly stories I won't repeat here. One exception is that I had never heard the story of Bedlam DL3, which was a pretty wild story.

The Microsoft I work for - at Microsoft Research, in India - is not the Microsoft that these guys described, not even close. The company they described was incredibly intense in terms of lifestyle, time, and emotional impact - not quite investment-bank intense but definitely on the same level. Working for MSR India has been, well, notably less intense. We all worked crazy late hours on our conference submission to be sure, but all throughout my internship I've gotten in and been pretty much alone (except for my advisor, Aditya, who works a time-shifted schedule for his family's sake) and gone home after most everyone else (though rarely, if ever, have I been the last research employee to leave). Even so, I've spent much less time at "Scientia" (the name of our office building) than I do in Wean (CMU people know that this means little - I spend LOTS of time in Wean). I think most people here are pretty good at the "work/life" balancing act, which has been a nice to see on a large scale.

[Update: It makes sense that the day I write this entry I accidentally oversleep till just after 9 AM (rolls eyes)]

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