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‘To innovate constantly is the key to greater things’, says this vice-president at JP Morgan

An alumni of Apeejay Institute of Management & Engineering Technical Campus, this IT professional talks about the importance of constantly upskilling



It was his dream to join the Army and serve the country. His trajectory was all set – complete Class XII, sit for the National Defence Academy (NDA) Examination, clear it, and join the Army. But there is an adage: Man proposes, God disposes. This could not be truer in Sandeep Sharma’s case.

So how does a person who aspired to join the Army end up as vice-president with JP Morgan? Read on to know more:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and brought up in Ludhiana, Punjab. I did my schooling at Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School. After my schooling, I went to stay with my grandparents in Gwalior and completed my graduation. Back then, my only aim was to clear the NDA exam, which I did, and join the Army. But emotional pressure from my mother back in 1997 prevented me from joining the Armed Forces.

How and when did your association with Apeejay begin?

This is a bit of a long story albeit an interesting one. A young lieutenant in the neighbourhood had died in a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir, my mother put her foot down that there was no way she would allow me to join the Army. I gave in to the pressure. But I took a promise from her that I should be allowed to join the Army after completing my graduation. I told her I would take the Combined Defence Services exam. I did precisely this. I cleared the CDS and took admission to the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun.

But I think I was never meant to serve in the Army. The Kargil War in 2000 ensured that I was made to leave the academy for good. I could never go back. But I was at a loose end and didn’t know what to do. I took a sabbatical to rethink my career graph and decided to pursue a programme in Computer Sciences since e-Commerce was booming. In 2001, I sat for the PTU exam, and through that, I got admission to the Apeejay Institute of Management & Engineering Technical Campus in Rama Mandi, Jalandhar.

How has your professional journey been thus far?

Ours was the second batch of MCA at Apeejay – 2001-2004. Three of my batch mates and I were selected for a training programme in software with Patni Computer Systems in Mumbai. Post that training, I was offered a job and joined the company full-time. I worked here for two years and moved to Capgemini, an IT MNC Company in Mumbai. Here I worked for the next three years. In 2009, I shifted to JP Morgan and have been associated with the organization since then. I am, at present, vice-president.

You have been working for 18 years now, what are some of the changes seen in the IT sector?

There have been many. Working in the IT industry means that every person has to know the latest innovations that are taking place. I have worked with an Indian IT and MNC IT organisation and now JP Morgan which offers investment solutions. So I have had three varied experiences within the IT sector itself. I have seen the work, processes, and ethics of IT.

When a person works in this sector, one has to constantly update his/her qualification. When I joined the workforce 18 years back, the technology was so different from what is being used today. Upgrading is a must.

Another change has been in the young engineers who join today. They have little patience. From day one they want to work on the most lucrative project, especially those with Artificial intelligence. Nobody wants to do the grunt work and move up their ladder. They want to jump the ladder and reach the top in a short span. This doesn’t happen in real life.

To whom do you owe your success?

I would have to give it to my parents, especially my mother. If it had not been for her, my profession would have been so different from what I am doing today. While, back then, my dreams and goals were something else but I am in a happy zone.

 Also, people have to understand that IT is not a cup of tea for everyone. Those looking from the outside may see the glamour and high pay packages but this is a tough industry to work in. To give an example, even though I have been working in the industry for 18 years, I did an executive programme in Management from IIT Bombay. The sole purpose was to grow within the ranks. There comes a time when a person feels that he is stuck. To move ahead, studying is a constant. I recently completed an external certification course.

Would you say you are satisfied with how your career has progressed?

Human beings are never satisfied. We always want more than what we have. The important thing to keep in mind is that to grow one’s short, mid and long-term goals need to keep changing but these are subjective. One person may have a short-term goal for one year, another for six months. Goal setting and aspirations should be there. But your mantra must remain the same. Mine has not changed since 2004 when I made my resume. It still reads: To learn constantly under the shadow of innovativeness.

What are some of the values that you have learnt as an Apeejayite that have stayed with you? The teachers/faculty here are brilliant. Some of them are still teaching to this day. They inculcated habits in us that have stayed with me. It was because of their guidance that I got my first job. I owe my professional growth to them.

When a person works in this sector, one has to constantly update his/her qualification. Technology is changing at a fast pace; upgrading is a must

Sandeep Sharma, vice-president, JP Morgan

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.

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