Meet Zohaib Ali Khusru: As a Technical Project Manager with Dimagi’s India Division, he’s not only proficient in the intricacies of software development but also deeply committed to making a tangible difference in people’s lives. What led him from a background in mechanical engineering to a career focused on projects with real impact? Join us as we delve into his remarkable journey.
Please tell us a little about your background and journey to Dimagi.
I started out in mechanical engineering, working for a big multinational corporation. While my degree is in mechanical engineering, I also worked on software projects. I learned a lot there, especially about software development. Even though I was knee-deep in software projects, I felt something was missing. The sheer volume of work left me feeling disconnected from the impact of our solutions.
Then, a friend introduced me to Dimagi, and I was instantly captivated. What struck me was Dimagi’s commitment to meaningful projects and their profound connection with end-users. I was drawn to the idea of using my skills to change lives. Plus, there was a bonus: Dimagi offered me the chance to return to my hometown of Delhi, India.
I began my journey at Dimagi as a Technical Project Analyst, and fast forward four years, I’m still here, loving every moment of my role as a Technical Project Manager.
Describe a typical day in your role.
No two days are alike. I juggle multiple projects. Due to our limited Technical Project Manager resources, I allocate only 10% of my time to one project. But it’s not about the quantity; it’s about the quality. As the technical lead, I ensure we’re designing, innovating, and implementing solutions on CommCare effectively and efficiently.
I’m not alone in this. I work closely with project managers, reviewing timelines and requirements and collaborating with our application engineers when integration challenges arise. And then there’s India Division’s SPEAR initiative. It’s all about the project team working with our business development team to provide technical insights when bidding on projects or talking to potential partners or clients.
Every day is an ever-changing mix of tasks, from addressing integration issues to last-minute field visits for partner engagement. It’s demanding, but the variety keeps me on my toes, and I relish the challenges it brings.
What are the skills necessary to succeed in your role?
Success in my role requires a mix of technical acumen, project management prowess, problem-solving abilities, and time management.
As a Technical Project Manager, you’ve got to know CommCare inside out. I stay on top of every product feature rollout so I can translate it for my team. You don’t need to know coding, but you should have the technical aptitude to grasp the nuances of building an application on CommCare.
Problem-solving is very important. You’ve got to tackle not only technical challenges but also the broader project management issues that come your way. And then there’s time management, which is a constant challenge. Balancing multiple projects in various stages of the Software Development Life Cycle and effectively allocating your time can make or break a project’s outcome.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
The most fulfilling aspect of my role is knowing that the technological solutions we create change lives. Witnessing that impact firsthand is simply amazing and serves as a powerful reminder of the positive difference that technology can make.
I’ll never forget when I first joined Dimagi and was tasked with building a module for community health workers in India. This minor feature significantly reduced their workload, and their response was heartwarming.
I continue to see this impact not only in India but also in projects across Africa and Tajikistan. It’s a reminder of how much we take our tech for granted and how culture shapes the way technology is used.
What challenges do you encounter in your role?
Navigating the complexities of time management is a substantial hurdle. Context switching can be demanding when juggling multiple projects in different stages of the Software Development Life Cycle. But we’re committed to delivering high-quality products, so we roll up our sleeves and prioritize as best we can.
You have a background in mechanical and software engineering. What made you choose a position on the delivery team?
Bangalore is India’s tech hub. While studying Mechanical Engineering in Bangalore, I couldn’t escape the allure of software engineering. An internship at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) opened my eyes to the blend of mechanical and software engineering. I saw firsthand how these tools made a difference in the field.
Switching to pure software development lacked the impact I craved. But the delivery team at Dimagi gave me the best of both worlds. I could dive into the technical side but also engage with end-users to understand their experience.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career within the delivery team at Dimagi?
Along with technical know-how, strong communication skills are a must for someone looking to pursue a career in the technical track of Dimagi’s delivery team. Effectively translating technical concepts into simple terms and tailoring your communication to your audience is vital to the role.
An enthusiasm for learning CommCare is crucial. While coding skills aren’t a prerequisite, a genuine interest in exploring the platform is essential to grasp its full potential and the impact it can make.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to travel. This year has been light on the travel front, but I hope to get back out there. I also love to read books, play football, and, yes, I bought a PlayStation 5 to indulge my recent hobby of video games. I might not be a gaming guru, but I enjoy having it.
Zohaib’s journey from mechanical engineering to a Technical Project Manager at Dimagi proves that passion and purpose can lead to a fulfilling career. His role as a Technical Project Manager is not just about managing projects; it’s about changing lives—one innovative solution at a time.
Want to learn more about the culture at Dimagi? Interested in applying for an open position? Visit our Careers Page.