TJ Thinakaran

M.S. Information & Computer Science, 2005

Why did you choose this degree?

I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of my craft. This was reaffirmed when one of the first MS classes I took with André, he asked us to discard all that we knew about Software design, and challenged us to think outside the box (literally).

What has been your career path since graduating with a [Ph.D. / M.S.]?

I worked with IBM until 2007. In August 2007, I joined fellow Anteaters Vijesh Mehta, Punit Shah, and Dinesh Ravishanker to co-found CallFire.

What do you enjoy most about your current position?

As a cofounder you grow with the company. Everyday you are required to evolve and be what the company, your team requires you to be. This perennial commitment to personal growth is challenging and exhilarating.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I manage teams in six locations across four time zones so I’m on pretty much 24/7. However, my typical workday starts around 6:00 AM and ends most days around 11:00 PM.

What was the best part of your experience at UCI?

The relationships I built. CallFire would not exist!

In what way(s) did your studies prepare you for your career to date?

The focus on principles over tools, ideas over technology. That’s allowed me to continue to stay relevant in the marketplace even though many of the technologies that were around in 2001 are now defunct.

What would be your advice to incoming students who might want to follow a similar career path?

I will quote what Norm Jacobson: “The days of nerds is long past. Learn computer science; learn also as much as you can about anything else you can while you’re here.”

To that I’ll add make friends, the best networking you can do is that with your peers. I got my first job (IBM) and co-founded my first company (CallFire) because of the relationships I built with my fellow classmates.

TJ Thinakaran - COO and Co-Founder - Call Fire

“ I got my first job (IBM) and co-founded my first company (CallFire) because of the relationships I built with my fellow classmates.”