Ashwin Chandranathan

Product Manager at Vicon

Ashwin Maniyankode Chandranathan is a product manager and technical liaison at Vicon, a subsidiary of Cemtrex Inc, a leading multi-industry technology company. Chandranathan is currently working on a new Cloud Video Management System and enhancing existing products.

Where did the idea for Cemtrex come from?

Cemtrex Inc. is a world-leading technology and manufacturing company that acquired stake Vicon Industries Inc. in 2018. I joined the company in January 2019 as a product manager. Vicon Industries has been a leading manufacturer of mission-critical security surveillance systems since 1967.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

No two days are the same, as you must always be ready to face any challenge or uncertainties. There are days when I spend most of my time in meetings, and other days I spend my time planning, working, and collaborating with my team. That said, there is a routine I follow.

I make it a point to catch up on the news first thing in the morning before the day starts —at least a glance at what’s happening around the world. I like to keep myself abreast of business and world news. Most days, I spend the first half of the day planning meetings with my team. I reserve my evenings for socializing, and then I try to take out an hour for my workout.

One way that has helped me significantly in staying productive throughout the day is planning ahead. Before I go to bed, I make a list of things to do, and I further segment the list priority-wise for the following day to make space for something that I know I should address in order to be mentally prepared to manage anything new that might arise.

Another way I stay productive is by collaborating with the team. Many things get done quicker and with better outcomes when we apply a collaborative approach rather than a reactive one. Lastly, I schedule breaks in my calendar, as sometimes doing something completely unrelated to work has given me great ideas in solving a challenge.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I believe digital advances in the past two decades have enabled more people than ever before to express creative intelligence. One of the ways I go about making something happen is by not waiting to perfect it. Launch it quickly to understand whether it serves the purpose or not.

The thought is to look at it from a fresh perspective and apply lateral thinking. Experiment quickly and smartly without losing focus on the core objective.

When it’s your idea, it’s very easy to get carried away or get overwhelmed by the sheer grandiosity of its possibilities or errors alike. The trick is to maintain focus and take a day at a time to reach the end goal.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Technology in video surveillance has been transforming at an unprecedented rate. The use of AI (Artificial intelligence) in video surveillance and using the captured metadata from network camera devices will give us the ability to increasingly predict, warn or avoid any incidents even before it occurs. This technology can also help get a faster response from the medical, fire and police team. This era of predictive video surveillance will be a game-changer, especially when we see many tragic incidents happening worldwide involved in the dead of innocent people.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I believe being disciplined and having a routine helps me remain focused on day-to-day activities, resulting in productivity.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Learn as much as you can. You will not get this time back where you could use all your time to learn and read for hours together. Also, it’s important to keep an open mind and explore several things, be it art or science or music or sports, or maybe explore all of it.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

We all build our destinies, as destiny doesn’t wait for us.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Keep learning, keep reinventing while keeping an open mind.

Never get tired of learning and applying something new to your work. That’s the only way you can continue to keep up with the ever-increasing demand of a fast-paced world.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

To help grow, I found it’s important to have the ability to read and predict the market better to help make changes within the system. We can build new things and teams to cater to the trends and current market needs relevant to my field.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I’ve tried to do it all by myself. Since I have worked in the same field, I thought I knew everything and that I can manage everything. After some time, I realized I was spending more time putting out fires than doing the stuff I loved. I’ve learned that it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses; therefore, I’ve hired a team with a complementary skill set, and I continue to hire smarter people than me. Basically, never hesitate to ask for help!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A nationwide chain of battery-swapping centers for electric vehicles. It could be a franchise-based model to increase coverage and penetration in the market. Superchargers and conventional battery-charging stations take considerable time to charge the EV. In contrast, a battery-swapping center affiliated with the original equipment manufacturer can get the EV up and running in a matter of minutes when compared to hours spent at a charging station.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 I recently spent was sending money to India, my home country, to help people in need looking for medical aid due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When it comes to helping those in need, regardless of the amount, the value of money goes a long way.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Teamwork: The Teamwork program enables me to create onetime and ongoing assignments and projects. It allows me to look forward to the rest of the week and get a good reminder of what’s coming up while I cross off the tasks that I need to complete today. The extra time I have to spend in the beginning to build the tasks and models is well worth it, as I don’t have to reinvent the wheel or strain my memory to recall what I did the last time. I can simply apply a task template to any needed project, and we are good to go. It is a tool that makes the workflow much more effective. The tracking of the work process helps me to better schedule our time and complete all tasks in a millimetric manner without missing anything.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari is a book about the brief history of humankind and how humans altered the face of the earth along the way. The author also discusses the present and future possibilities. The core concept of Sapiens’ narratives is rather uncontroversial in explaining all human affairs, evolution, agriculture, economics, etc. This book is one of my favorites as it is provocative and pushes me to think about everything about being human on this planet.

What is your favorite quote?

“Don’t be encumbered by history. Go off and do something wonderful.”– Robert Noyce.

Key Learnings:

  • Plan your to-do list the day before to prepare yourself mentally for anything that might come up the next day.
  • Remember, it’s OK to ask for help.
  • Keep learning about your industry to help grow in your business and your career.
  • Read “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari.
  • Don’t wait for perfection when you have an idea — go for it!