Sreeram Padmanabhan
The topsy-truvy of a decade I had

Last updated: 21 May, 2020

Amazing how I had just been thinking about this today and here was this question in quora. So I had to answer it. Just like most people in middle class in India, I had my fair share of sheer struggle to get to the top. I think I have worked super hard to earn the right to brag about it today. So here goes my rags to riches story.

From back bencher to dropping out of college to Junior Engineer to Senior Engineer to Lead Engineer: In 2010, I hated Computer Science. All I could think of was playing cricket in a ground. From a school which laid emphasis on Physics, Mathematics, English etc, I saw Computer science as an outsider. Something like a co-curricular activity like the stitching classes. I struggled for a degree in college. Around the 6th semester, I was at the brink of dropping out. Teachers and friends wrote me off. I still remember my friends joking that I will never pass out. On an average, I wrote almost every one of the 52 papers in the engineering degree twice. Those days still haunt me. I think it was around 2011 that I really matured as an adult and realised I had been taking my life for granted. I decided to be my own coach and I cleared 18 exams to pass out among my peers. But, in the inside, I was developing a love-hate relationship with computer science and mathematics. Fast forward to 2020 - I am a Senior Software Engineer. I work with some of the best engineers in the world.

From Trivandrum to London to Berlin: In 2010, I was in a growing city in India. I never saw myself as an achiever. I was just the regular average guy taking 2 public transport buses to college and back. 2020 - My job takes me places. I moved to Trivandrum to Kochi to Chennai to Bangalore to London and I am in Berlin now. I have also travelled 13 countries solo. And I know it wont stop here.

From road-side eateries to michelin-star restaurants: There was a time when I was eating food from the road side eateries 2 times a day. Today, I cook my own food and I occasionally eat food from some of the greatest restaurants in the world. My favourite is Cirrik in Dalston, London. I used to visit it every week with my friend. I am sure they will recognize me when I visit them again.

From freelancer to founder: In 2010, I was working for myself. I didn’t know what startups were. I was just working for random people as a freelancer. Entrepreneur was a word I couldn't even pronounce. I then tried to found a startup and failed, worked for a startup, Wipro, Nokia, Apple, Lloyds Bank and Delivery Hero. I then set up jsDrome.

Failure-fearing to failure-embracing: Things didn’t come to me the easy way. Most things I learnt have been through a string of failures be it in my personal life of professional. I have realized that success is not about being in the comfort zone. It's to do well outside your comfort zone.

Homeless to penthouse (not exactly a penthouse, but didn't get a better word to make it sound dramatic): In 2010, I lived with my parents. I remember the days when I used to have arguments at home as an immature child. In 2015, I lived in a house which didnt have water supply. 2020: I now live in my own apartment in a nice area in Berlin.

0 to 1C: In 2010, I had 0 Rs. Today, I have seen 1C. You might see this as the ultimate level of bragging. But, to me it has been a story of building a life from scratch.

Learner to teacher: In 2010, I learnt from others. Today, I mentor others.

And finally, this is me over 2010–2020.

sreeram padmanabhansreeram padmanabhansreeram padmanabhan


It’s not to say that I have succeeded in every aspect of life. I do have some way to go in my personal life but I think I have reached a reasonably good place in terms of my career, thanks to the topsy-turvy of a life in the last decade. But the coach in me is happy and proud. I get a lot of requests in social media asking me how I got here. To them, I say this: Dont wish for a life like mine. You only see the shiny side of it because thats what I show you. Wish for a life you will be content with. Put your heart into whatever you are doing and that will take you places!

I will end it by quoting an excerpt from my favourite poem:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
☕ Buy me a coffee maybe?