Meet Nasir, Computan’s CTO, Head of Development, and team leader. Nasir has been on the Computan team for over 15 years and has built applications, managed projects, hired and managed employees, set up development offices, worked in different Computan offices around the globe, and overseen the daily development operations. In short, he’s done quite a lot! In this installment of Behind The Coding, Nasir talks about remote development work has changed in the past few years, where his interest in politics comes from, and what it’s like to work with a business partner who is different than you.
Hi Nasir! What are the last three things you Googled and why?
Hi Sajeel, how are you? Is everything going ok today?
Yes. Nice dialogue. Why did you say that exactly?
Because that is what you say to me every day when we talk.
Hahaha, yes exactly! I have been saying that for 15+ years to you.
So what are the last three things you Googled?
The most recent thing I Googled was laptop prices
Why laptop prices?
We are looking to add a budget for hardware purchases each month, so now I am talking to different vendors to get preferred rates.
So laptops for the team and employees to use?
Yes exactly. One of my goals for the next little while is to streamline and review our device management.
Ok! What else have you been Googling, Nasir?
The US dollar exchange rates.
Understandable. Why would you be interested in the US Dollar exchange rate? Can you tell our readers?
Basically, because we have team members and colleagues all over the world. When the dollar has greater purchasing power, we tend to convert money into the currencies that we are paying in. By the grace of God, we have 90-100 employees to pay, and if we can exchange our money at higher percentage points over the course of every pay period, we tend to save a lot of money at the end of the year.
So you check the exchange rates pretty often, then?
Yes! Quite regularly.
Ok, what else have you Googled?
The assassination attempt on Imran Khan
Why would you Google about the attempted murder of a former Pakistani Prime Minister?
I am always interested in politics, Sajeel.
Let’s talk about that. When did you get interested in current affairs, politics, and watching the news? You follow these things closer than most people.
I have been doing it since childhood. I probably started following politics as a 10-year-old.
10 years old! Why?
I lived in a small, politically polarized village in Pakistan. Pakistan is very similar to the US. For decades we had a 2-party federal system. Our village was almost equally divided. Even though it was the 1980s, it felt very similar to today. People on one side believed they were the best, and the other side was the worst.
But that doesn’t explain why a 10-year-old would be so interested in politics and current events.
It was everywhere I went, Sajeel. My parents, uncles, and elders in the town had an interest. That bug was passed on to me! Like most kids, I wanted to be just like my parents and elders. They talked about politics and were active in the village. I wanted to do that too.
When was the last time you worked after hours to solve a hard problem?
Since I moved to a management role, I usually stay after hours to attend late-night calls with our colleagues in different corners of the planet. We can never really get a good time zone that works for everyone, so we all adjust a little.
Hahaha! Very accurate. What about during your developer days?
When I was a lead developer on many projects from the mid-2000s to around 2018, I spent countless days working after hours. Unfortunately, things were very different for developers than they are now.
Well, first of all, not everyone has access to broadband and high-speed Internet at home. I didn’t’. Also, the code was not in the cloud. It was in a local-area network or a physical server.
Ok, what does that mean to you and working late hours?
Well, it means I had to go to a facility or an office to do my work. Then, when I went home, I had no access to a computer with the necessary code. So if I got an urgent call or an emergency came up, I would have to go back to the office to work.
How far did you live from the Computan office?
45 minutes! I don’t think our colleagues at this age could imagine such a struggle. Working on something, signing out for the afternoon, then getting a call and driving back to the office to fix something. We are fortunate to have file repositories in the cloud, great Internet, and portable laptop machines to take with us. We are very fortunate.
No doubt about it. We stand on the shoulders of giants. Who are three people you'd like to have dinner with at the same time, and why?
Three people are probably three friends of mine. I would like to have these dinners separately, though. Is that ok?
Hahaha! The rules are yours Nasir.
Ok. The first person I’d like to have dinner with is Shahid Karamat.
Who is Shahid to you?
He’s an accountant with the City of Edmonton in Canada. He was a classmate of mine in engineering school. He is an excellent friend.
Ok. Who else?
The second person is someone I talk to very often. His name is Aziz. He was my classmate from grades 6 through high school.
Wow! Are you still in touch with him?
Yes! I talk to him daily. We have a WhatsApp group, and he is always telling jokes. He is an Odoo consultant for a company in Saudi Arabia but works remotely. So whenever I return to my hometown, he and I have to get together for fun.
Nice! Who else would you have dinner with?
We talk every day. Why me?
Our relationship is unique. We have been through many ups and downs and had many arguments. But we still stay together. It’s a blessing, and I always enjoy your company.
Why do you think we have been able to stay together as partners for so long? Most partnerships or bands break up pretty quickly.
I don’t know, but maybe because we argue a lot, we move on. I know there are times when we don’t like each other. But we stay together. People quickly throw relationships away after an argument, especially in the professional world. By the Grace of God, I think we both take our relationship seriously; maybe that’s why it lasts.
I agree with you. We can be very annoying to one another at times, for sure 😊.
Hahaha! No doubt about that.
When was the last time you cried tears of laughter?
I don’t remember…usually, I don’t cry when laughing! Usually in a sad movie or TV show, for sure. But not while laughing.
Maybe you are watching the wrong movies! What do you love about coding?
SQL Server. I love database programming.
Who got you started on SQL Server?
One of my teachers taught me SQL Server. Now he is a SQL Server expert in DBA at Harvard. Through him, I learned to use SQL and built up my love of SQL.
Where were you when you first saw a laptop/desktop?
I was at Punjab University. I saved 32,700 PKR from being a Math & Physics tutor and used that money to buy my first laptop. It was 433 MHz, 64 MB RAM, and had a 20 GB HDD. The first computer I saw was in 11th grade. It was at my friend’s uncle’s house. It was 486 in 1993. I just watched him use Excel.
What is something your teammates don't know about you?
I am not always bossy all the time. Sometimes I have to ‘act’ bossy in my line of work. But sometimes I am just acting!