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It's Hard For Techies Over 40 To Stay Relevant, Says SAP Lab Director

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the cannon-fodder dept.

Software 441

New submitter NewYork writes with this chestnut from an article about the role of age in the high-tech workplace: 'The shelf life of a software engineer today is no more than that of a cricketer — about 15 years,' says V R Ferose, MD of German software major SAP's India R&D Labs that has over 4,500 employees . 'The 20-year-old guys provide me more value than the 35-year-olds do.'" The article features similar sentiments from Mukund Mohan, CEO of Microsoft's India-based startup initiative.

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441 comments

really? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018715)

He will be forty one day too...

Re:really? (4, Insightful)

rockout (1039072) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018981)

I don't think he claimed he wouldn't be. But then again, his primary function is not that software engineer - it's Managing Director. So his shelf life may or may not be longer.

Re:really? (5, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019027)

"He will be forty one day too..."

He's 38, so it will be very soon.
Actually, we don't have to listen to that geezer.

Even worse (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018717)

I do IT for a cricket league. My shelf life is only 15 minutes!

not hype/trends followers (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018733)

bacause they aren't hype/trends followers. They will not tell you to rewrite your whole system in Ruby

Re:not hype/trends followers (5, Insightful)

shawnhcorey (1315781) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018763)

...because they would rather work smart than work hastily.

Re:not hype/trends followers (5, Insightful)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018767)

But rewriting your whole system in Ruby is hugely productive! Look at the number of new lines of code!

Seriously, the managing director of a lab at SAP in India? They were really scraping at the bottom of the barrel here. Seems like link bait to me.

Re:not hype/trends followers (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018937)

It's SAP and it's India. It's probably a lab that is one step up on data entry.

Re:not hype/trends followers (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019191)

SAP shouldn't be telling anyone about engineering until they figure out how to do it themselves

Indian sweat shops (5, Interesting)

mrops (927562) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019229)

I am an Indian. And he is correct for the wrong reasons. Western countries should actually do something about this, kind of like how they (at the very least) frown upon sweat shops of china.

Guys like him exploit young IT workers as they are starting their career trying to prove something. This results in 12+ hour working days and often weekends too. If AT&T pays some company in India to do some software, they need it done. the company in India treats these folks like work horses and 11:00AM to 11:00PM, 7 day a routine is quite common. Hence a 40 year with family with a PM around his age will say screw you and go to his kids. It has nothing much to do with tehcnologically relevant or not, so the 20 year slave labour does provide him more value. Not only does he work hours on end, he asks lesser money. A shit peace of software with a pretty interface is delivered to the client, non-techie iPhone generation business people see this bit, say, ooh look slide to unlock, this must be good, lets cut the check. Off to another client.

Anyhow, I am 37 and learned to say no to pushy managers long back, clearly I don't provide the value I did 10 years ago when 11-11 was the norm.

Because the 35 year olds have gained wisdom (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018737)

The 20 year olds "provide more value" to a company that expects them to live, breathe, and die for the company, because by the time they're 35 the people have realized that the promised rewards for working themselves to death for the company are lies. So the 35 year olds start screwing the company back.

Oh well, can't expect any CEO to say any different than what they're saying. That's why the only good CEO is a dead CEO.

Re:Because the 35 year olds have gained wisdom (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018837)

I can't help but think of all the business owners that were firing people or cutting their hours down to less than 30 over Obamacare.

Yes, they're full of shit, but be that as it is you're still left with [un|under]employed techies. The world doesn't work according to what we feel is right or fair, and ageism in tech appears to be a very serious problem. So what do you do about this?

Re:Because the 35 year olds have gained wisdom (5, Insightful)

stevew (4845) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018927)

Some other points not brought up - since the guy is in India, there are some specific Indian Culture issues working here too. The big one that has been pointed out to me by Indian folks I've worked with is that Mom & Dad expect their kids to be MANAGERS within a couple of years of graduating or the kids are considered failures! So even FINDING someone in India with 15 years of relevant experience is HARD. They DO exist, but more than likely, they came over to the US then went back home!

Finally - having just gone through a project with 3 oldsters pushing 50+ & three young guns just out of school (one a PHD & the other two youngsters Masters degree holders) I can tell you with certainty that the company took over a year recovering from the mistakes made by the newbies.

BS to the whole thing. I'm 56 and still a working technologist.

Quantity over quality (5, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018743)

Is the task really about quality, or quantity?

Most places I've worked, it has been about quantity. Number of reported bugs fixed. Number of lines of code.

These are metrics which can be shown to other people. That's how your manager gets promoted. How the shareholders are convinced that the product is doing well.

The people who are still around after 20 years of coding are binary: they're either wizards or burnouts.

On the other hand, the younger workers are inexperienced, which means you can keep fooling them with the same gigs. Make them work for 24 hours straight, keep them in the office for 12-hour days with $5 of free soft drinks a week, promise them a great career someday. They're guileless and easy to manipulate, which is great if you want your metrics to look good but don't care about the quality of the final product.

Personally, I'd prefer to hire wizards and to shift the burnouts into doing something they might enjoy more, because older workers bring a lot of experience and realism to the game.

But that won't impress my bosses or the shareholders.

Re:Quantity over quality (5, Interesting)

rtp (49744) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018771)

Youth is idealistic, therefore generally willing to commit much longer work hours "for the cause." Older adults understand the value in applying time toward family, raising children, and focusing more on quality solutions versus brute-force/take-the-hill/quantity solutions.

And/or, do we have a generation shift where the 40+ year-old workforce today operates at a different tempo versus the newest generation? Is the next generation that enters the workforce committed more to work for a rapid increase in pay? The 26 year-old knucklehead in his mom's basement suggests otherwise, but perhaps he is the rare exception at the bottom left of the bell curve?

Re:Quantity over quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018959)

Older adults understand the value

It's not that we understand the value of those things; it's that we value things differently. That doesn't mean that they lack understanding.

Re:Quantity over quality (3, Interesting)

ElRabbit (2624627) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018823)

I am running a small high tech company in Digital TV and we are mostly experienced people in there (20 yr experience). We recently hired a young programmer but I know this guy will probably cost us money for at least the next two year, this is an investment we make into training him so he don't get spoiled with javascript and powerpoints. For now, he is nearly useless, he is full of "thing", but cannot manage to turn this into a product or even a useful feature. Other experienced guys can run mostly unmonitored without the fear that they will get lost in the wild, produce something useless or bug stuffed code spaghetti bowl (hail the great flying paste monster). Of course if your running a business where you invoice (a lot) companies for creating data entry forms with a cryptic software which was supposed to enable to create them themselves in the first place, you will need a lot of don't-think-don't-ask-question coding monkey ...

poor metrics lead to gameing the system all the wa (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018967)

poor metrics lead to gameing the system all the way to makeing things very bad for quality.

Do want things fixed right or bandage fixes?

Do want easy stuff banked up and not fixed right away to fill gaps from harder stuff that count the same?? keep in mind easy stuff can be a password reset.

Do want to be guy working the big ticket that covers a say a system that is down and 100's of users need but only counts as 1 ticket and will take most of the day to fix or just do tickets covering the other general 100's of users that say only take 30-60 min each?

Re:Quantity over quality (5, Insightful)

aix tom (902140) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018991)

A ping point there being "Shareholders". I myself (42 years at the moment) would NEVER (again) work for a publicly traded company. Small, privately owned, outfits are the place for me. Where Priority one is the customer, priority two are the workers, and the owners profit is priority three. (Funny enough, it seems the owners profit gets better when it's priority three than when it's priority two)

Re:Quantity over quality (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019081)

The people who are still around after 20 years of coding are binary: they're either wizards or burnouts.

Good point; I've seen this over and over, yet somehow it did not occur to me. Maybe because I try hard to never be involved with burnouts.

Personally, I'd prefer... to shift the burnouts into doing something they might enjoy more...

Yeah, like working for somebody else who won't be so demanding? ;-)

Re:Quantity over quality (2)

MangoCats (2757129) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019101)

Depends on your bosses and shareholders - a lot of the "bubble money" seemed to come from corners that thought that getting 20-somethings to work for them 80-something hours a week while hyper-caffeinated was going to double their wealth... enthusiasm for that has waned a little in the last 12 years, though it will always persist to some degree.

To me, the best answer is a mix: your young enthusiastic kids who are eager to "try something" should be free to do that, in their second 40 hours. The problem is, you can't really get the kids to focus on more proven methods during the first 40, so there's not really a pure bonus effect there, more of a higher risk higher potential reward thing.

As a manager / investor / shareholder, I'd rather have a predictable team with a 90%+ chance of turning a 30%+ annual ROI, instead of a 30% chance of a 300% ROI (and 70% chance of 0), but that's just my style - when you are either young and bold, or old and rich enough to throw away money on chances, the high risk investments are more attractive.

Corporate value (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018749)

'The 20-year-old guys provide me more value than the 35-year-olds do.'"

Value=lower salary & willing to give up having a life outside of work.

Re:Corporate value (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018773)

'The 20-year-old guys provide me more value than the 35-year-olds do.'"

The shareholders of the company should note that the same observation is true for a Managing Director. There are younger men and women that would provide the share holders with significantly more value than V R Ferose, MD of SAP's India R&D Labs is providing them.

Re:Corporate value (1)

MangoCats (2757129) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019123)

Demming followers tried this in the early 90s. They mostly changed their minds by the mid 90s. Notably Florida Power and Light fired everybody and made them reapply for whatever jobs they were qualified for - most of the kids hired directly into management ended up jobless, or in more traditional entry level positions, after that.

Re:Corporate value (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018845)

which matters hugely if all you consider from your programmers are how cheap they are and how much you can sell them on for (and if their code is crap and it costs extra to maintain the product - w00t, that just makes you even more money).

Re:Corporate value (3, Interesting)

ultima (3696) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018999)

'The 20-year-old guys provide me more value than the 35-year-olds do.'"

Value=lower salary & willing to give up having a life outside of work.

And that's really it.

Older folks, generally, cost more.

In the US, (I'll make some numbers up, but depending on where you are, the proportions are correct) corporate hiring knows they can hire a rockstar out of college for less than $90k, or an average programmer for less than $70k. (Even as that rockstar is 3-10* as productive as an average employee). Why pay $120-50k for an average 45 year old engineer? They assume the experienced rockstars figured it out, started their own businesses, or otherwise moved into senior non-coder roles, and the aged coders are people who just couldn't cut it doing something else. So your software engineering degree isn't necessarily worth less, but if you expect to be doing the same thing with it at 45 that you did at 21, you have a surprise coming unless you plan very well. There are great ways of doing this - becoming a subject-matter expert in something rare, consulting, moving into a mentoring role, or working for companies that are less bottom-line focused (government/military-industrial complex). But there's a substantial number of software developers for whom there is someone else willing to try to do their job for less $. That's one of the big reasons for both unions and professional licensure, but that's another discussion.

This isn't unique at all to us. Any job enjoys this - "Step Up or Step Out". If you're an aging worker, you've always got to ask yourself what you provide that a college grad doesn't. (And hope you aren't asking what you provide that a HS grad doesn't, like many folks had to during/after the .com bubble). The canonical answer is "experience", but the professions show that isn't really true unless you can directly demonstrate it. More senior doctors in some fields are more prone to mistakes than younger doctors, because the senior doctors trust their "experience" whereas the younger doctors trust research. But the senior doctors also handle more patients, due in part to the same corner-cutting.

Re:Corporate value (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019057)

Jesus christ ...he means in terms of able to reflect current trends.....no 35 year old is hip as the old farts say to the world as a 20 year old is. a 35 year is simply apart from popular culture and new ways that 20 year olds are not. Fuck your stupid

I call BS on that (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018755)

I'm 43 and still very relevant. I offer experience as well as raw skill. I know what works, and what doesn't. I know the best practices and I know the pitfalls, and I know them well. I can troubleshoot a problem much faster than any of the kids, as well as learn new languages and new technologies very quickly, since after the first dozen or so, they're all pretty much the same. I can be a sysadmin, and a DBA, as well as a developer because I've seen it all, and over the years done it all.

Re:I call BS on that (5, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018807)

and I'm sure you get a lot of hassle from the kids who come to you to ask how various things are done.

Its the same everywhere I've worked, there's always a group of older workers who are the go-to guys if you need to now how something works, or if you need advice on how to put your stuff in the bigger picture.

The biggest problem for me is the crap the kids come up with - for example, I recently was shown a new web service that had 1 method on it, which was implemented using 6 interfaces and 10 files. And this had a comment saying "I didn't use dependency injection because this is such a simple project". It was the hallmark of someone who's taken on every OO way of working with factories and wrappers and decided to use them all without the experience to know when to use them.

Re:I call BS on that (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019015)

and I'm sure you get a lot of hassle from the kids who come to you to ask how various things are done.

Or re-doing the work when they didn't bother to ask first, and inevitably did something horribly wrong in their moment of youthful zeal.

Re:I call BS on that (1)

Pirulo (621010) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018907)

Mode parent up. Same 43 here. We know what's crap and what's not. I actually cut the corp cord long ago and do a good deal with my own products.

Re:I call BS on that (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018957)

Same (and more, but I won't brag), and I'm only 25.

India (4, Informative)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018757)

The comments are from India, where the software field has not been around as long as it has been in the U.S. Attitudes on age are just now (barely) starting to come around in the U.S., and I predict they will in India as well in a few years.

Re:India (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018803)

It'll happen after they stop shitting in the streets, i.e. never.

Re:India (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018839)

20 years ago in school, I have a friend from India, who was worried that the computer skills he was then learning in the US would be useless in India when he returns because computers were too expensive in India at that time.

So you can guess that, in India, techies over 40 have just as little experience with computers as techies in their 30s, since they all started 10-20 years ago! No wonder India managers found older techies giving them no additional value.

Re:India (1)

21mhz (443080) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019007)

As far as I can observe, the general attitude there is that programmers are dispensable code monkeys who don't know much, but will try to do the job in any way they can, and the way to run projects is to get a few shovel loads of them and ensure that some formal checks are passed in the end. Code quality is nobody's concern.

The programmers, on their part, largely match this bracket. There is a whole culture of getting "educated" to check correct answers in tests and collect certificates. An engineering job is seen as a preferred avenue to success, before the mandatory step of crossing over to management, no matter where your real talents lay. A 40 year old techie is a loser, because otherwise he would be a manager.

Maybe. Just maybe... (2)

Shaman (1148) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018775)

...these companies should stick with tried and true products and environments, and expand upon them. That's why Linux is still relevant today and is taking over damned near everything that isn't a desktop, IMHO.

Here you go (4, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018781)

So, this guy says that the entire career of a Software Engineer will be 15 years.

And the politicians and business leaders are saying we have and extreme need for more people in science and technology fields. .....Ummmm.

Why the FUCK should students going to college today sign up to go into a career where they know they'll be out of work in 15 years?

Outside of that, this guy is spouting total bullshit. I understand that there are some great young innovators out there. But that's not all we need out there. We need people with experience building large complex IT systems. People who've done it before and know what might happen. People who know where the gotcha's will be. Not everyone is just going to be writing iPhone apps.

At my first job, when I was young and I guess still valuable, the company I worked for was staffed completely by young people. It was staggering the bad shit and unforeseen consequences we ran into. Having just one staff member with some experience and proven capability in the field would have been invaluable.

Re:Here you go (3, Interesting)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018833)

Why the FUCK should students going to college today sign up to go into a career where they know they'll be out of work in 15 years?

Bingo. Whether this guy's comment is accurate or just reflects the attitude of employers in the field, the fruits of this policy would be a vast reduction in available 20-year-olds in the future. And the 20-year-olds he would still get would be the ones that we sufficiently short-sighted to consider 15 years to be a lifetime.

Re:Here you go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018951)

No, the guy is an idiot and a liar.

The 20-year-old guys provide me more value than the 35-year-olds do

Those 20 year-olds provide profit, not value. Value is a product that you can be proud of and customers will come back for more. And you know what? It's a very small world, it won't be long before word gets out about their business model, and then they'll lose even that edge. Don't misunderstand, I'm not saying people will stop working for them, they still will, but they won't care about long term, and that will show in their code and attitude.

But what I see, is something else, you have people with a certain skill set and more people with another skill set, and he espects them to do the same job just as well. That's just bad management.

"techie" != "software engineer" (2)

goltz20707 (902338) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018787)

There are plenty of us "techies" out here who are not software engineers, and are more valuable than the twentysomethings precisely *because* we've got 20+ years of experience.

it's because 20 years olds work longer for less (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018801)

once people hit 40 they actually expect to have decent pay and some time to spend with their family...

Re:it's because 20 years olds work longer for less (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018919)

once people hit 40 they actually expect to have decent pay and some time to spend with their family...

As a hiring manager I see the opposite. The 20-somethings are the ones who expect easy money and have an active social life outside the job. The 40's are more realistic about raises and have grown kids, so less demands on their time.

Cost / Benefit issue... (4, Interesting)

kbonin (58917) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018815)

Writing as someone coding professionally since the early 80s, in project teams sizes from 3 to 10k, and at the highest primarily engineering position I can achieve without becoming a non-coding manager (Systems Architect)...

As engineers age, they may gain experience, but productivity does often drop. We also have those pesky families and/or work-life balance goals. And an unfortunately repeating pattern for engineers is reaching a point where they now think they know everything they need to, and learning grinds down, sometimes to nothing. If they only work on legacy code that might be OK if no innovation is required. Domain knowledge is difficult to quantify the value of, and varies greatly by organization and project, and I would argue that all seniors should work hard at making sure this is clearly documented AND passed down.

Most companies are happy to keep a few older experienced engineers around to try and direct teams of young high productivity programmers (no family / life, willing to work 60-100 hour weeks) and attempt to mentor them to make less mistakes. Increasingly these teams are in low cost regions, most commonly India.

I would begrudgingly agree that in most cases, in terms of a cost / benefit analysis of 'value to the organization / stockholder', which is what really matters, this is true a statistically significant percentage of the time.

Of course, most of the time comments like this are merely the result of a HR directive to cull expensive engineers to reduce payroll and make room for more low cost region 'resources', driven by a suit that doesn't understand the full value of their older engineers. Unfortunately we live in a world where most important decisions are made by MBAs without a clue. Older engineers must learn to make sure the layers above them understand their real value to the organization.

Re:Cost / Benefit issue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018889)

I don't quite agree. I work with embedded though. In my field, age and experience is still a huge plus. But perhaps this is only the case in embedded.

Re:Cost / Benefit issue... (2)

kbonin (58917) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019115)

Having spent about 10% of my career in embedded, I would agree that domain knowledge is of far higher importance in the embedded world. The knowledge base for tool chains and platforms needed to write production quality code on most embedded platforms is significantly than most desktop / server / web app worlds...

Re:Cost / Benefit issue... (2)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019087)

As engineers age, they may gain experience, but productivity does often drop. We also have those pesky families and/or work-life balance goals. And an unfortunately repeating pattern for engineers is reaching a point where they now think they know everything they need to, and learning grinds down, sometimes to nothing.

I think degrading performance can increase and percent of time spent on the job can decline a little with age, but it shouldn't be as much of an issue if you find people with the appropriate mindset. There are people who truly like their work - to the point where it is not just a job, but a hobby and something they love as well.

For example, I am not a young man - I am 30-ish. I would rather go online and learn some new concept/pattern or a new language, or look up something to advance my coding abilities, than I would like to watch a TV show. I don't plan to become jaded and assume the "I Know Everything" position anytime soon. Hell, most of the code I write I spend at least HALF the time I'm writing it looking up function definitions and API calls. I am currently at the "I know very little, but I know how to find what I don't know" stage - which I find is the best place for coders to work from.

In my experience, it is usually the YOUNGER coders who think they know more than they do, and that they are somehow infallible at coding. The "I just graduated and they taught me ALL of the useful, newest information, that you've probably never heard of" mentality is what comes into play there. Faster is not better. More is not better. Better is better.

That's funny because as a 20 year old I thought (5, Insightful)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018819)

The most important thing in coding was making it work.(Getting out fast was second.) As a 40 something year old coder I know the most important thing is making your god damn code readable since you will come back to it, you ALWAYS come back to it. (Amazing how many other coders don't get this even after years of experience.)

Oh and always do things the right way (3, Insightful)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018831)

Never cut corners, nothing good comes out of cutting corners.

Re:Oh and always do things the right way (4, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018925)

Never cut corners, nothing good comes out of cutting corners.

Unless you're Apple. Then you file for a patent.

Re:That's funny because as a 20 year old I thought (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019055)

You might not be the one to come back to it, but other people on the team will.
The most important ability of a developer is being able to work in a team. Since most real development happens on large codebases, this means that not only you need to have good tools to find your way in the code, but you also need to ensure your changes don't break anything, in particular other people's code, or if someone broke something for you you need to be able to figure out why. You need to work well with versioning tools, searching and indexing tools, debugging tools, bug reporting tools, reviewing tools, refactoring tools and testing tools.
Some of these tools you might have to write yourself specifically for a particular project.

Unfortunately, never in your studies or job interviews will your methodology or tool usage skills be assessed, despite it being almost more important than raw programming skill.

I'll be sure to tell Rob Pike and Vint Cerf. (3, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018825)

I'll be sure to tell Rob Pike and Vint Cerf. You know, the next time I have lunch with him at Google with the Greyglers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9M0RPNr9qg [youtube.com] and be sure to remind Sergey Brin and Larry Page that they have one year until they're over the hill like Steve Jobs was and Steve Wozniak is currently. Oh, and like Elon Musk is over the hill by a year.

Alternately, I'm going to just dismiss the author of the article as an idiot who has a terrible idea of what constitutes "relevance" based on a particular development model which I don't have a hell of a lot of faith in being able to actually deliver working product.

Re:I'll be sure to tell Rob Pike and Vint Cerf. (1)

higginsta (41700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019047)

Insightful? This comment is just a string of names.

None of the people named are cogs in a machine, and that is what the article is talking about. Fresh single cogs works longer for less money than older cogs.

Re:I'll be sure to tell Rob Pike and Vint Cerf. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019099)

If they were in YOUR position they would mean squat as well.

Prospective (4, Insightful)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018827)

The 20 year old guy can program but the 35 year old can make requirements.

Re:Prospective (0)

Oh Gawwd Peak Oil (1000227) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019049)

But can that 35-year-old spell "Perspective"?

Re:Prospective (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019209)

Prospective: Expected or expecting to be something particular in the future.

Perspective: The art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and..

I'm sure a 35 year old can spell perspective but it's more important to know when to use the right word. In this case I'm referencing the two different developers by age by comparing the useful work they can both contribute hence needing future tense.

Q on Skyfall? Not so bright. (3, Funny)

NeoMorphy (576507) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018841)

Skyfall spoiler!!!! stop reading you have not seen the movie yet !

They referenced Q on Skyfall as an example. Idiot hooked up Silva's laptop to the MI6 network and then powered it up. An experienced IT person would know that would be a very stupid thing to do.

If you work in IT, learning new technology is part of your career, it never stops, you're doing it all the time.We know the old tech and the new tech. Anyone who states otherwise has no idea what they are talking about.

Re:Q on Skyfall? Not so bright. (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018895)

Indeed. He was supposed to be all cool and competent, but all I thought when he even powered up that laptop, let alone hooking it up, was "You utter, utter, numpty. You are about to have your balls handed to you on a plate."

Re:Q on Skyfall? Not so bright. (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019125)

I'm assuming he didn't just hook it up raw, and that there was some sort of protection hardware/software you couldn't easily see that Silva's computer was able to get around. I think the incident was supposed to be more indicative of Silva's competence than Q's.

What I found far less believable was that the key for this brilliant hacker's "polymorphic encryption" (the tangled web of lines, shapes, and scrolling hex code) had the cipher key stored in plaintext, which was also easily visible to a virtually computer-illiterate old man in a stream of hex values.

Re:Q on Skyfall? Not so bright. (1)

NeoMorphy (576507) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019239)

I'm assuming he didn't just hook it up raw, and that there was some sort of protection hardware/software you couldn't easily see that Silva's computer was able to get around. I think the incident was supposed to be more indicative of Silva's competence than Q's.

What I found far less believable was that the key for this brilliant hacker's "polymorphic encryption" (the tangled web of lines, shapes, and scrolling hex code) had the cipher key stored in plaintext, which was also easily visible to a virtually computer-illiterate old man in a stream of hex values.

Why hook it up? You would think they would disassemble the disk, then scan the platters for old and new data.

The plain text password was funny.

Funny, I've been a software architect at two... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018871)

...companies that bought "awesome" Indian dev companies filled with hundreds of 20 year olds.

They were totally useless (not because of the kids, but the fact that effective software engineering LEADERSHIP doesn't seem to exist in the majority of Indian software companies.)

Now, that's often the case elsewhere, but it seems to be particularly endemic to the Indian way of doing things. It's too bad as well, because some of the best software engineers I've worked worth are ex-pat Indians. Plenty of talent over there, total lack of leadership.

tubgirl (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018877)

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I don't get it (1)

Pirulo (621010) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018891)

43 here, and more relevant than ever before.

What company was that? (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018893)

Whooshhh....SAP goes your money

Nonsense. It's about keeping up and needing to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018897)

First of all, the question is, if you even need to keep up. Some software engineering jobs don't need much keeping up at all. The core knowledge is the same since the 60s. And languages are just tools. Sometimes they fit the job better, sometimes they are interchangeable.

Then the question is, if you can keep up. I see no reason why there wouldn't be enough jobs that a 40-year-old can keep up with. I mean you're not suddenly retarded at 40. You're not much different at all. Unless you ate nothing but saturated fats, sugar, heated dairy proteins and salt. (In that case, you're fucked. ;)

When I hire people, and I discriminate against a group solely because of stupid prejudice, I just harm myself. And since I'm not stupid...

It's India (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018903)

I am sure he is right, when I need low level manual labor coding done, something that needs no creative thought, a 20 year old drone is more productive. That being said, give me my smart 35+ year old engineers all day long.

Hiring a techie over 40's is a goldmine (3, Insightful)

MindPrison (864299) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018909)

...depending how LONG that person has been a techie though.

Most over 40's techies have an experience that the younger techies doesn't even have (and would LOVE to have), is the hands-on experience how the insides of a computer REALLY work. Sure, any young technician can learn to program, anyone of them can complete any engineering course and school, with brilliant results, but that's just it - results aren't what they used to be. We have a LOT of theory today, they rarely get to try everything out in real life.

Sitting and working in front of a computer, with simulated circuits simply won't provide the total knowledge, and even though they can come up with amazing new innovations, show fantastic skills etc. many of them come short if they fail to see why their design doesn't work as well in real life as in the simulated environment.

This is where us old techies simply excel over the youngsters. I've had numerous dazed looks on the various younger techs faces when I within few seconds to minutes, points out the flaw in their design, when they eagerly show me formulas and huge math equations + simulations to show me how "flawless" their design SHOULD be, and desperately want me to agree with their designs. Then I show them HOW it COULD be done, and many of them say - what you just did doesn't make sense - but it work - it shouldn't work - but it works.

To us old techies, the inner workings of everything, from scratch, from transistors to assembly code etc. are second nature, because we grew up with everything from scratch. We weren't served a huge bunch of books, a ready to use computer with a gazillion libraries, we often had to construct everything from scratch, including designing the logic, often on a breadboard - programming the OS ourselves etc.

So techies over 40 with experience from the start of it all - can't even be replaced.

Re:Hiring a techie over 40's is a goldmine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019143)

Except engineers are now learning to use materials and methods you have no understanding of, you MAY be able to understand it, but as of now you dont

Old joke (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018917)

Q. Why is employing graduate like having sex with a virgin?

A. Because neither one knows how badly you are screwing them.

You shouldn't be 35 and a developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018923)

I am sorry but someone who is 35 should have moved on to a bigger role then just being a software engineer or a developer. By 35 you should be an Architect.

Re:You shouldn't be 35 and a developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019151)

I am sorry but someone who is 35 should have moved on to a bigger role then just being a software engineer or a developer. By 35 you should be an Architect.

Why? Do we need that many "architects"?

Ummmmm, Nooo! (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018941)

This has got to be a garbage study. All it takes for a techie to remain viable is for him or her to commit to lifelong learning, reading, and experimenting with new technologies. I guess it must be true because a wealthy executive said it so we should all immediately believe him and say, "Oh whoa is me. When I turn 40 I'll irrelevant." Bollocks!

Some Truth In It (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018945)

It's Hard For Techies Over 40 To Stay Relevant

True. As a 42 year old hacker (in the empirical tinkerer sense, not the security circumvention sense), I have to spend as much time learning my craft, every day, as I did when I was 12. It was hard to stay relevant then, and when I was 22, and 32, and now. Fortunately, I love doing so now as much as I did then.

'The shelf life of a software engineer today is no more than that of a cricketer -- about 15 years,'

Depends on what you are using them for. If they are expected to mindlessly bash out the filling of methods prescribed by a spec, that may be so. If, however, they are expected to understand the context -- both business and logical -- of the component, and to make decisions accordingly, experience and its attendant judgment can be far more valuable than stamina.

SAP's India R&D Labs ... Microsoft's India-based

I have done a lot of work on the database side of enterprise software. Given Oracle's educational initiatives in India in the 90's, that means I have worked with a lot of Indian database professionals. Many of them are incredibly skilled and it has been an enriching experience to work with and learn from them.

However, it is just statistically / economically true that most people over 35 in India were not spending hours writing code on their own computers when they were 18. It is unfortunate that most of them did not have that opportunity, but a person who has not been cutting code for 15 years will not have the experience that is the strength of veteran programmers. A manager of an Indian software lab has an inherently distorted view of reality because of the small number of people in India who have been programming for 15 years. In that context the natural, flawed, conclusion is that age is inversely related to software productivity. It is as rational and objective as the conclusion that swashbuckling buccaneer quantity is inversely proportional to the rate of global warming.

Probably the 3rd (fictional) definition. (1)

Yoda222 (943886) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018955)

Adjective relevant (comparative more relevant, superlative most relevant)
  1. 1. Directly related, connected, or pertinent to a topic.
  2. 2. Not out of date; current.
  3. 3. Cheap

Past exerience is baggage? (1)

Trondheim (2012498) | about a year and a half ago | (#42018969)

"Shailesh Thakurdesai, business development manager at Texas Instruments India , says college hiring is a priority for the company because "freshers learn fast and do things differently, without the baggage of past experience..."

Wow, really? So experience is baggage? I know this analogy has been used millions of times in the past, but if I was having open heart surgery, I'd certainly want a surgeon with "baggage" versus a fast-learning "fresher."

What a tool. Is this guy for real?

What he actually means is... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42018995)

...above a certain age they just start telling me to fuckoff, to my face rather than behind my back.

He's 38, he must be planning to resign soon. (2)

Press2ToContinue (2424598) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019001)

Or maybe this is a quote from his resignation letter, explaining why he feels he must resign. Jolly good of him to do so! Especially since it would be so wrong of him to continue to slow down all of those high-output 20-something-or-others. Bravo!

Generation war. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019017)

Notice that people always complain about my generation's lack of experience but no one wants to pick up the tab to train us.

older people know about legacy code / systems and (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019019)

older people know about legacy code / systems and there is so much of things like that in a office it's can hit you in a bad way if no one knows about it.

I have head of the old door key system that was left over from the last office tenants that after some time that no one in the new offices IT had any idea about up it failed or some found a old system and ether pulled it or tried to change the os. Also have seen other old hacks / quick fixes that where put into place due lack of funds that stay in place for some time and then after the people who set it up are gone fail and then the newer IT staff have to deal with it.

All about India (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019051)

The article is all about India. How many over-35 techies do they really have? I think what they are reporting is an experience biased by the way the tech economy development has played out in their country -- recent rapid expansion. In countries that have had a high tech industry longer, there's a bigger population of people over 35 who have been working in the tech industry since they were 20.

The things that I hear American companies seeing as problems with development in India are the same as you would expect from giving major projects over to a bunch of inexperienced programmers: sloppy, bug-ridden code, poor understanding of customer expectations and a need for real experts to go back in and untangle the mess. Young programmers need more experienced oversight to learn how to work on big, complex projects, create code that can be maintained and stay focused on goals that match customer expectations.

I expect that over the next decade, Indian development organizations will begin to recognize that the elder programmers are more effective and put the younger ones under the supervision of the older ones so they can learn to do things the right way.

There's also a lot of focus on junkware development in the article. (iOS and Android apps, for instance). When you're developing a free or cheap app for a mobile platform, you don't care about quality. It's all about who is first to the market with the flashy-looking app -- a market where poor software practices are rewarded and focus on quality and maintainability will only hold you back.

This may be true in India... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019077)

In my experience, for many Indian engineers, there seems to be more of a management rot culture, where after 30 there is a strong desire to delegate to others, and do less. Of course there are many exceptions. India is not alone. In Korea, the culture seems to expect engineers to retire by 40. People of course are strongly influenced by cultural pressures.

We are affected by cultural pressures and expectations, but it is up to each of us (even managers!) to decide to keep learning. If always learning, there is no age limit.

Suppose I should give up soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019079)

Im 71 - still doing good work - no one told me to stop when I was 40.

Horses for courses

Some truth and some horse shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019089)

"The 20-year-old guys provide me more value than the 35-year-olds do."

Well, considering Ferose is the manager of an overseas R&D lab, the company probably expects him to deliver a tireless, low-cost workforce. That's why it was opened, and this determines what he values. With that in mind, he's right, a workforce that is as young as possible delivers even more of this kind of value, on top of the overseas move.

This, however, is horse shit:

"freshers learn fast and do things differently, without the baggage of past experience"

Shailesh Thakurdesai, "business development manager" - I expect this person manages things he does not understand, which is why he's confused experience with baggage. He has none himself.

no wonder (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019105)

That SAP produces software with such a horrible reputation--idiots running the show!

This is a load of crap (1)

sitarlo (792966) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019121)

I'm in my 40s and I'm working on innovative stuff every day. At my company the younger guys all look to me for help and mentoring. The company looks to me for technical leadership. I agree that there are a lot of really talented young technologists out there, but very few of them can do what I do or bring the type of value I bring to the organization. Give them 20 years experience and maybe they will do the job better than I can, but for now I think my "relevance" is very safe and secure.

After 15 years, the good ones have better ideas (1)

Press2ToContinue (2424598) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019133)

When I was in my 20's, I was in a group of developers who were also all in our 20's. There were only a few guys who were in their 40's and 50's and they were kinda slow. I thought the same thing too at the time. Now that I'm 53 and making 10x more as a consultant than I did back then, I can see reasons why my skewed adhoc-survey gave those results. I think the biggest factor is that the go-getters can get-up-and-leave when they get 15 years of experience (I left after 13 years) and make way more money either designing their own products or starting their own companies, like me. This is software, it's easy to create your own and start your own company from your living room, so why stay? So that leaves the lesser-motivated, lesser-driven "software engineers" (yeah, it's a euphemism anyway) in the same cubicles as the n00bs. At that point, I can see why it looks like the 20's outperform the oldies. So, what's left is the lesser-performers. I think Mr. VR would be smarter to focus on employee retention, but hey, what do I know? I'm just a 53-yo consultant who has enough money that doesn't need to go to work anymore, so for SURE I'm not generating the same volume of code or intrinsic value as those n00b. Uh-huh.

Excuse for offering low pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019137)

More value in low pay. Less value in mistakes + inability to solve problems (especially when googling fails them) since they lack experience.

What is the virtue of not knowing shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019153)

"time and effort into new learning and also to unlearn old ones."
"freshers learn fast and do things differently, without the baggage of past experience"

Unlearning and never-having-learned are virtues now? If the business development manager goes from having no "baggage" to "not knowing shit at all" will he be running the company? (Seemingly yes, so at least there's some consistency to it.)

haha hehe hoho (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019165)

right
do you want this website hacked
then post another retarded article like this and ill show you what 42 means

just happens to be my age too

What a moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019181)

I would expect this kind of statement from the kinds of morons that run SAP and Mickeysoft. The kiddies they are talking about have no discipline, have probably not been exposed to standards based development and aren't worth half a person with 15+ years of experience. I would never hire a kiddie except as an intern or entry level developer.

hmm (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019187)

The 20-year-old guys provide me more value than the 35-year-olds do.

Only if the 35-year old is asking for more significantly more compensation than the 20-year old, right? There must be some level of compensation that's "higher than what the 20-year old asks" that still presents a good value proposition to an employer, considering the 35-year old has the benefit of 15 years work experience (and "general maturity").

Complete bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019189)

This is the kind of ageist comment meant to justify firing older workers and hiring green thumbs.

It's the same thing in public schools; veteran teachers are the most valuable, but the most costly, so school administrators save money by forcing veterans to quit (e.g. deliberately giving them an overcrowded classroom with the bulk of kids that have discipline issues) and then hiring some new, well-meaning but basically ineffective teachers who just got out of college.

So to make money, they shortchange the education of children. It's the same thing here, they want to hire some new programmers who will work crazy hours until they burn out, because it's less expensive than retaining one veteran who will do quality work.

SAP policy of age discrimination? (2)

ztexas (1351217) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019217)

Though SAP is German, and this brilliant fellow is based in India, they should be careful. These kinds of statements suggest a more widespread policy of overt age discrimination at SAP, which is illegal in the US, among other countries. SAP should release a statement disowning this rant. Imagine: 'My experience is that race X is generally not as productive as race Y, so I prefer not to hire anyone of race X'. Also, gender F tends to go on maternity leave and not come back, so I prefer to hire gender M. Unacceptable.

meh (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019233)

the people who are 40+ now, sure they probably suck each others dry, dusty balls. but when *i'm* 40 i'll be all kinds of awesome.

SAP? WTF. (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year and a half ago | (#42019235)

I make my living writing software. I work for a highly successful software company, which for some reason uses SAP software for things like handling expenses. Among my colleagues the majority believe that the company uses SAP intentionally because it is so horrible to use that you'd rather not do your expense claims than suffering through the use of the SAP software.

I'll just say that if I worked for SAP, which I don't, and was developing software for them, I would be _ashamed_ to admit to it. That's how bad it is.

HE IS A FUCKING INDIAN !! WHAT DID YOU EXPECT !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019247)

In India you are expected to live to the ripe old age of 47 and the die in a pyre along that stankie river Indus !!

and it has nothing to do with (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42019255)

the fact that a 40 year old working in the field as long as the 20 year old has been alive would obviously demand a higher salary, right??????

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