Ashish Mittal worked for five different companies before joining Viasat’s India office, and says some of them shared many of Viasat’s best qualities. But Viasat’s Chennai, India office is unique in one very important way.
“Viasat has a very optimistic environment; I’ve had that kind of feeling in different companies as well,” said Mittal, finance lead for the India offices. “But what is different here is this is family. The people I work with here don’t feel like just colleagues anymore.”
It’s a sentiment others at Viasat India also relate.
Software engineer Rathika Ramakrishnan describes an office that not only works together, but celebrates holidays, plays sports, volunteers and dines together. They’ve maintained that sense of unification even after the India site expanded to two offices.
“I think almost everyone here feels they are friends,” she said. “We help each other.”
Both Mittal and Ramakrishnan have worked at the India office for five years, almost the entire time the Chennai location has existed.
Growing presence in India
The Viasat India office first opened in a temporary site on Oct. 12, 2015. It moved into its own office in June 2016. Growth led to the opening of a second Chennai office – about two miles from the first – in January 2018.
A third site appears imminent, but plans for it have been pushed back due to the coronavirus and a corresponding slowdown in hiring.
Today, Viasat’s India offices employ 196 people.
The offices help build Viasat’s footprint in Asia as the company moves toward becoming a global internet provider. Engineers here work on web acceleration, next-generation cloud, virtualization and network management applications, commercial air and residential internet – cutting-edge technology that draws ambitious tech employees.
“Many Viasat products have significant contributions that came from our Chennai center,” said Sathya Narayanaswamy, vice president of Viasat India. “Chennai has become an integral cog in Viasat’s engineering efforts. That testifies to the quality of talent we have here, and affirms Viasat’s culture that allows talent anywhere to find its right place in our company.”
That includes Ramakrishnan, who has a master’s in computer applications, and a passion for her work.
“Every day there are interesting and challenging new things to do,” she said. “We are working on new innovations, delivering products that will make a difference for people in remote places in the world.”
Mittal shares that enthusiasm. He has been instrumental in Viasat India’s growth, ensuring the infrastructure at its offices aligns with that of Viasat’s corporate HQ in Carlsbad, CA. Accomplishing that in the first office was, he said, “a humongous task.”
“From there to here has been a journey which I can share many stories about,” he said. “It’s flown too fast, but it has been a very interesting one.
“There are some magical numbers in your life, and I consider this milestone of completing five years at Viasat as something to cherish.”
The Chennai employees have formed a particularly strong bond through their volunteer work, which has focused heavily on a government-run neighborhood school. In the last few years, Viasat India donated computers to create a computer lab there, taught the children how to use the computers, planted trees and flowers at the school and painted classrooms and buildings.
In early 2020, it initiated a mentoring program for female students with an interest in pursuing higher education. Just two weeks in, the coronavirus hit, bringing the program to a halt. The office plans to resume the effort when it reopens.
The Chennai offices also host a cricket tournament annually, with employees divided into teams that play against each other.
“Everybody participated and it was so much fun,” Mittal said. “There were equal amounts of people playing as those watching. It was a huge hit.
“With coronavirus, those kinds of activities are missed.”
While Mittal and Ramakrishnan praise the company’s handling of the coronavirus, and say they enjoy working from home, they both also express a yearning to reunite with their colleagues.
“I am even missing the hallway conversations,” Ramakrishnan said. “We try to have some online chat sessions. But it’s not quite the same.”
“You learn a lot having coffee and sitting with talented minds,” he said. “COVID has restricted that, though we have been trying to find ways to keep connected across all departments.”
That aside, both say they look forward to more years working for Viasat in India.
“I’m not planning on going anywhere; I wish to complete as many years here as possible,” Mittal said. “At Viasat, you have the ability to make mistakes, learn from them and move on. It keeps you happy and looking forward to returning to work. Every morning I look forward to going to work and doing my best for the company.”