Podcast Episode 003: Show notes: India is meeting Czechia and USA, interview with Shuchi Tandon

Shuchi Tandon


Podcast Recording:  The conversation was held via Skype between Prague, Czechia where Mats was and Jersey City, outside New York on a Sunday. A lot of planning and flexibility was required to time this when Shuchi’s son had a nap. Overall good connection but some blips and cuts here and there. 

Topics covered:

  • How it was to come to Czechia and be one of the first students at the Czech Technical University  when they for first time launched studies in English language
  • The challenge of going back to work after only a couple of months at home with a newborn baby
  • The difference in work life balance between USA and Europe
  • The exellent working atmosphere Shuchi found in Europe
  • The challenge of moving from a cozy European company and to work for Goldman Sachs 
  • Long working hours and not much holiday in USA
  • The difficulty to outsource IT projects to India and the cultural difference between India and USA 
  • How the IT department in the US companies are more streamlined from Shuchi’s experience

Studies at Czech Technical University

Shuchi talks about how difficult it was as the lectures were supposed to be in English but most professors only spoke Czech. 

“I was in the dean’s office almost everyday complaining” explains Shuchi. 

At the end she did a lot of self studies spending the days in the library and the exams were in English. 

She studied in total 5,5 years before graduating.

The last years she worked in parallell to the studies as a Database Administrator. 

First Work Experience

Shuchi joined Deutsche Boerse in Prague as a Java developer. 

She enjoyed the workplace. Everybody was fresh out of college and they were sent to Clearstream in Luxembourg for traning and got to know each other very well. 

“People knew each other, talked to each other, it was more like a family for me” Shuchi explains. 

She liked the work culture and the environment. “I still miss that environment so much” she says. 

US Adventure starts

Shuchi moves to US to work as a consultant for Goldman Sachs. 

“It was like the difference between earth and moon” she says. 

“People just want to step on each other. The are so competetive and nobody has the time to socialize” Shuchi explains. 

She worked 12-13 hours everyday and is expected to be at work at 7 am.

Long commute from Jersey to New York, 1 to 1,5 hours each way. 

The work was under tough time constraints and she was both coder and tester in one. 

Shuchi was used to long lunch breaks in Europe, but at Goldman Sachs nobody stopped for a lunch break. 

She stayed 1,5 year at Goldman Sachs. 


For 4,5 years she has now been working for Geico , an American Vehicle Insurance company.

She works as a developer there, developing on the Guidewire software which is similar to Java or Javascript. 

She likes the work and is now well supported by analyst team and testers. 

They work using Scrum and everyone is focused on their user stories, a high-level definition of requirements. 

Visa Worker in USA

It is challenging to be in US on a working Visa and the procedure is cumbersome.

She cannot get promoted as she is hired with a specific Visa and the whole Visa procedcure is complicated where every 3 years you have to reapply and it takes up to 6 months to get feedback.

“US is like a mini India”, Shuchi says.

Most of developers around her in the Geiko office are Indians in similar situation. The challenge is you have to keep your job in order to be able to stay.

“The Indians here are concerned about their job security and everyone wants to give their 100% best, because if your job is in jeopardy you have to leave the country”, Shuchi explains.

Difference in Work Life Balance between Europe and USA

The discussion many times comes back to difference in work life balance between Europe and US. 

Shuchi mentions that during the week she hardly sees her baby. Her husband works as an engineer at Amazon and they both have long working days. 

“There is only work, work and more work” says Shuchi. 

We discuss how she had to go back to work after 3 months when the baby was born and compare this to some european countries where you can stay at home for a couple of years and multiply it for each kid so with 3 kids you can easily be home over 5-6 years and the company must hold your position for when you come back. 

Cultural differences between India and US

Wheares all the Indians on site in the US company have blended in, Shuchi has experienced problems when she worked on a project where a part was delivered from India.

The code came back very buggy and they had to fix it in the US

Mats talks about similar experience and the challenge of having off shore development done.

Mats asks whether it could be linked to a cultural difference, he has the impression that it is not part of the Indian culture to say that something is not understood and challenge requirements for an IT project.

Shuchi confirms this impresson.

“It is one of the biggest thing in the Indian culture, people will always say they know it. If you go to India and asks for direction for someones house people will always say the know it and they send you somewhere completely wrong”, she says with a laugh.

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