A Project Manager's Rise to the Head of Digital Services
We recently sat down for an insightful interview with Gopal, our esteemed Head of Digital Services. With a wealth of experience and expertise in project management, Gopal has been instrumental in driving success within our Digital Services division at OpenSky. In this insightful and personal interview, Gopal shares his story from gaming enthusiast in India to Senior Project Manager to strategically leading a high performance project team in OpenSky.
Tell us about your early career and what inspired you to get into the tech industry?
My early fascination with IT began during my primary school years when computers were introduced to my school. This initial exposure led me into computer gaming during college, fuelling my curiosity and passion for the software world. This enthusiasm led me to pursue a degree in Information Technology. I started my career as a Project Coordinator in an event management company, organizing gaming events in India. Later, I worked for a prominent tech company, specialising in eLearning content development, where I honed my project management skills. Transitioning to Database Administration, I handled IT projects for North American clients and received invaluable support and mentorship, further refining my project and program management abilities.
Project management is something that I was naturally inclined towards from a very young age. Knowingly or unknowingly, I would always end up taking a lead role in managing the projects during my school and college years. It just felt like a natural fit for me. Regardless of the different companies, industries, or technologies that I explored throughout my career; I was constantly gravitated towards project management.
What was your experience like when searching for job opportunities in Ireland from India?
When I made the decision to relocate to Ireland and pursue employment there, I embarked on an extensive job search. Despite facing numerous rejections due to the lack of a valid work visa, I persevered and continued applying for over two months. Fortunately, OpenSky showed interest in meeting me and went the extra mile by sponsoring my visa. From the beginning, my experience with OpenSky has been overwhelmingly positive. I greatly appreciated the prompt and regular communication from the HR department, which was a refreshing departure from the lengthy response times I encountered with other companies. Additionally, I reached out to individuals on LinkedIn who were associated with OpenSky to gather insights about the company culture, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. In comparison to other companies, I found OpenSky to be exceptional, aligning well with my values and aspirations, which was crucial as I was undertaking a significant change of not just countries but continents.
I reached out to individuals on LinkedIn who were associated with OpenSky to gather insights about the company culture, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
What pushed you to make such a significant move to a new country with your family?
Relocating to a new country with my family was a decision driven by the desire for a better quality of life and future opportunities for my children. Coming from a crowded city with limited career prospects, I wanted my children to have better education and career opportunities. Through the interview process and interactions with OpenSky staff, I could tell that they had good people and a supportive environment. Even before I joined, they were helpful and supportive. The decision to join OpenSky was not only about the job but also about the overall experience and the opportunities it would bring for my family's future.
Was the adjustment in Ireland easy for you and your family?
The first few months at OpenSky and in Ireland, surpassed my expectations. I knew there was a lot that I had to get done initially, so I decided to come here alone at first and setup everything, before I brought my family over. Being a Project Manager, I did a lot of research beforehand and planned the entire transition even before I arrived in the country. This included, finding a place to rent in the challenging housing market, researching nearby schools and creche for my kids, finding a General Practitioner and most importantly, I performed an overall risk assessment and possible strategies to mitigate the same. Thankfully, the team at OpenSky was incredibly supportive throughout the relocation process. Honestly, I consider myself quite fortunate that everything fell into place, as the overall transition to this new country and the role was relatively smooth.
How have you managed to balance your family responsibilities with your new role?
Finding a balance between my family responsibilities and my new role has proven to be quite challenging. Each week brings forth a unique set of demands, and while I strive to maintain control and stay on track at work, I also make a conscious effort to dedicate ample time and attention to my family. Achieving the ideal equilibrium has been an ongoing endeavor. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have a supportive and understanding family. Throughout this journey, my wife has been a constant source of support. Familiarising herself with the names of my colleagues through our conversations at home, she humorously refers to OpenSky as my second home. Even my young children have displayed remarkable support. My daughter, who is truly my angel, would occasionally observe me working from home, quietly placing a bottle of water on my table, reminding me to take care of myself. Their understanding and cooperation have been invaluable, as my growth and accomplishments would not have been possible without them.
Did you anticipate moving into such a senior role so soon after joining OpenSky?
Upon joining OpenSky as a Senior Project Manager, my immediate focus was on exploring avenues for career growth and setting clear career goals. The opportunity to step into a managerial position aligned perfectly with my aspirations. Throughout my journey, I consistently sought feedback and guidance from my manager, who was aware of my ambitions. Applying for the Head of Digital Services role felt like the right move, and even if I didn't succeed, I knew it would provide valuable experience and insights into future opportunities. The recruitment process, involving multiple rounds of interviews and discussions, filled me with elation and confidence. I approached the process with a smile, armed with solid answers backed by relevant experiences. I've always approached my work with dedication, going beyond the conventional 9-5 mindset, and striving for excellence. A senior role of this magnitude marks a significant milestone for me, and I am sincerely grateful to the directors for placing their trust in me.
Do you think that all Project Managers have the potential to step into a senior role?
The career path of project managers can be diverse, with some opting to specialise in managing projects hands on, while others aspire to advance into leadership and strategic positions. This decision ultimately depends on personal ambitions and goals. However, transitioning into senior roles like this necessitates not only proficiency in project management but also the cultivation of strong leadership attributes and strategic mindset.
What advice would you give to aspiring professionals pursuing a careers in the tech industry?
My advice to aspiring professionals in the tech industry would be to follow their passion and explore different areas of interest. Start by gaining exposure and experience in various roles and technologies. Don't be afraid to take on new opportunities, even if they may seem outside of your comfort zone. Focus on continuous learning and acquiring knowledge. Building a strong foundation and understanding the core principles of technology will be invaluable throughout your career. Additionally, seek out mentors and learn from their experiences. Network with professionals in the industry, attend tech events, and stay up to date with industry trends. Finally, never stop believing in yourself and your abilities. The tech industry is constantly evolving, and with determination and a growth mindset, you can achieve your goals and make a meaningful impact in the field.