Career stories: Saurabh Singh, Practice Lead

March 11th, 2022 Written by Infinity Works

After arriving in the UK from India in 2003, Saurabh Singh only intended to stay in the country temporarily while he studied. More than 18 years later and he’s still here and has no plans to leave the thriving Scottish tech scene anytime soon.

But what convinced him to stay? When asked the question, he says: “I stayed because of the unrivalled opportunities to work in cutting-edge technology.”

Today he’s a Practice Lead, working with the most “insanely talented people” and supportive team he’s experienced during his 14-year career in the tech industry. As only the third local person to join Infinity Works in Edinburgh, he’s helped grow the practice to more than 60 people, building strong connections in the local community focusing on a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

So how did he come to join Infinity Works?

After finishing a degree in AI, Saurabh spent five years in tech consultancies and then six years working as a freelancer while searching for a role where he would feel truly satisfied. He was enjoying life on contract to a startup when a recruiter persuaded him to meet Ed Marshall, then Head of Practice in Edinburgh’s fledgling Infinity Works operation. His first meeting with Ed was a little unconventional, as Saurabh admits: “It was the only time in my entire career I’ve ever met a prospective employer dressed in a hoodie, jeans and trainers – but Ed was too!”

Even before receiving a job offer, Saurabh was hooked. Infinity Works seemed to combine start-up energy with mature processes. It also promised to provide the sense of belonging he missed as a freelancer. “I’d been feeling a bit like a mercenary,” he says. “I’d always been treated as an outsider.” Above all, Saurabh saw the chance to work with like-minded people whose values chimed with his own and extended beyond the purely commercial.

He wasn’t disappointed. As one of the first people to be hired in Edinburgh, Saurabh experienced the unique pleasure of helping to build a practice from scratch and seeing it mature. It was an exciting time – and the initial buzz hasn’t worn off. The Edinburgh practice has gone from strength to strength. It continues to grow yet is still small enough for there to be only one degree of separation between everyone who works there, a closeness that Saurabh values greatly.

Unsurprisingly he had to hit the ground running on his first day, joining an account team as a developer and tackling the React technology stack, which he’d never used before. It was the first time he’d been outside his comfort zone for three or four years, having previously worked in hands-off roles involving architecture and technology leadership. “It was the most uncomfortable I’d been for a while, but also invigorating because it was a new challenge,” he explains. “One of my biggest fears is not knowing something, so I spent the next few weeks learning everything there is to know about that technology stack.”

Variety is the spice of consultancy life

Saurabh quickly discovered that support was available whenever he needed it. There were always Infinity Works colleagues who were eager to help. He could also rely on the company’s Slack channels, a goldmine of technical information and answers to questions. Saurabh describes that resource as the best support mechanism he’s ever had in his career.

His first impressions of Infinity Works have been confirmed since he joined in 2019. The company’s “extended family mentality” creates a great working environment, while its culture of trust and can-do attitudes help teams deliver value fast to its clients.

We’re all professionals but we’re also friends and collaborators. Nobody here has ‘Teflon shoulders’. We all roll up our sleeves, watch out for each other, and get the job done."

Saurabh describes his current role as “doing whatever needs doing”. As a Practice Lead, he’s charged with holding the business accountable for the promises it makes to clients and its people. Infinity Works offers new hires the flexibility to work on a range of different accounts, for example, so Saurabh is in regular contact with the commercial team to ensure that happens. He explains why it’s important: “If we don’t provide enough variety, our people will stagnate. If you keep working with just one technology, that defeats the purpose of being a consultant because you lose your edge.”

Technology itself is simply a tool, however. Saurabh is currently using serverless technology in a lot of projects, although he describes it as more of a methodology than a technology. He explains: “Which tools we use depends on the client’s capabilities and their existing skill sets, although we try to use the most advanced tools that are appropriate for the job. The most exciting part of any project for me is always the solution we’re delivering using the best-of-breed technology to make it happen”

He’s particularly fascinated by two current projects. The first is for a global car manufacturer working on a vision to enable electric car batteries to power the vehicle owner’s house cheaply during peak energy pricing periods. Overnight, when electricity prices are lowest, the car battery will recharge. The other project is exploring the close correlation between mental health and sound finances, looking for new ways of helping people better manage their money – and their wellbeing. Saurabh enjoys the fact that no two days are the same when he’s working on projects with this kind of variety and tackling some very complex challenges.

Brilliant people – and the need to get out of their way

The Edinburgh practice continues to grow at a rapid pace. There’s also a major desire to establish Infinity Works unequivocally as the go-to name for fast, leading-edge, innovative projects. Saurabh loves being part of this and is keen to reach the end goal: “If there’s something cool that needs to be done, something disruptive, or challenging to solve, Infinity Works should always be the first name on everyone’s lips.”

He refers often to Infinity Works’ people, who are the company’s single biggest asset and the foundation of the business. He believes the key to scalable growth and success is to support his people with the lightest of touches. “They’re already brilliant,” he says. “My job is to let them be the best they can be. I do that by giving them the right tools – and then getting out of the way.”

Like most people at Infinity Works, Saurabh is happy to turn his hand to a variety of initiatives, including recruitment and new business. He’s also part of the Integration Experience Design team helping Infinity Works to integrate with Accenture following the acquisition in 2021. Saurabh and the team have worked hard to ensure that their colleagues have the information they need to function within a larger business and, conversely, that Accenture appreciates how Infinity Works operates.

We explained what Accenture needed to do to make us part of their organisation, and we suggested ways of doing it that would work for our people. And the teams at Accenture listened. They’ve enabled us to retain the things that make Infinity Works special while also giving our people new opportunities. And we’ve communicated back to Infinity Works people in a way that felt familiar and comfortable to them."

Adapting to change can be complex and challenging for people. But it was made easier by a concerted effort from Saurabh and the team to retain, and celebrate, the qualities that make Infinity Works unique – and protect the skills and characteristics that attracted Accenture to acquire the business. 

These include the focus on compressing time-to-value, so clients can start benefiting from the results of implementing new technology fast, and attracting the best people in tech with a playful yet professional work environment and great technology challenges for them to tackle. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Saurabh explains. “As part of a recent integration day, I ran a Leadership Challenge, which involved getting all of the leadership team doing silly things using items within their reach. As everyone was working from home this proved very entertaining and helped to break down barriers.” 

On a more serious note, Saurabh is also engaged on the business’ diversity and inclusion programme. “People from different backgrounds will think differently,” he says, “and any group needs that kind of diverse thinking to be successful. We are going in the right direction but there’s more to do.” The whole company is behind the commitment and the D&I team are continuously implementing new initiatives. This includes gathering best practice ideas from the Infinity Works team and outside the company, as well as working alongside Accenture to accelerate efforts.

D&I isn’t a project that comes to an end, it is one of those things you have to be continuously working on."

No better place than Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a long way from India and very different, but Saurabh couldn’t feel more at home. He still can’t quite believe that a short-term visit to the UK ended up in an enviable career, working with talented people at the bleeding edge of innovation. He’s grateful for the opportunities that have come his way, and keen to stress that they weren’t planned. He comments: “After school I spent about three years trying to work out what I wanted to do. There are probably lots of people like me, who came from outside the industry and maybe think that technology isn’t for them. But anybody who’s curious and prepared to work hard can have a career in tech. And if learning something new every day excites you, I don’t think there’s a better place to do it than here at Infinity Works.”

A career at Infinity Works

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Written by Infinity Works