HomeInterviewsThe Coding of a Tech Visionary

The Coding of a Tech Visionary


Sheikh Galib Rahman
Director of Software Engineering
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Sheikh Galib Rahman is a man of two fortes. He juggles people and tasks with the utmost ease. Engaging in conversation with peers and like-minded people, one could never tell that his vacation home would include attending multiple networking events. One day he is delivering a keynote before hundreds of youth dreaming to make money with outsourcing business; the next day, he is meeting the who’s who of the ICT sector of Bangladesh. Names like Mostofa Jabbar (the Minister of ICT), Sonia Bashir Kabir (the country director of Microsoft Bangladesh), and Shamim Ahsan (Former BASIS President), are his immediate orbit. Nevertheless, his solar system, bigger mentors, wellwishers and former recruiters from IBM, JP Morgan Chase, Cap Gemini, and Disneyland.

Galib spins memories into allegory with the same ease as everything else he does, making his rags to riches story just as opulent as the man behind it. Galib was only 17 when his life would take a most unexpected turn; a diversity visa to the US offered him not only newer opportunities and a novel way of life. His parents wanted him to become a lawyer but upon entering the US, like many other Bangladeshis, he had to join a $9/hour job at the Dunkin Donuts where the owner highly demotivated him to pursue his parents’ dream. Galib instantly knew he had to leave the place as soon as possible. After working there for six months, Galib finally found a new opportunity. This time he would be a waiter at Trump Tower; the job opened a new network for him. He was accepted LaGuardia Community College under the City University of New York. His stint at the college was a mixed bag: both fun and challenging at the same time. “There were even nights when I slept in the car or at the subway. But I was happy in a way that I knew one day I will have a better condition than this. It took me three years to complete my two years of college,” he looks nostalgic as we carry on with the interview.

By then, Galib had a different bend of mind and wanted to study something, which at that time, was even impossible to dream about: he chose computer science as a subject of his further studies. “I had nothing against becoming a lawyer but computer science compelled me more. Luckily, with the connections, I had been harnessing for the last two years, I landed a job in a high-end bar. I was earning $700-800 as tips per night.” He wanted to purchase a Lexus IS-250 with the money he had saved. “I was criticized for my purchase because people believed that I did not earn the stature for the car.”

It was 2008 when Galib graduated and was looking for a decent job that would enrich his resume with expertise in the field of his incumbent studies. He applied for a job at FINRA-Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in their Document Management System. The first round of interview went so well that he was right away. Though he was successfully finished the next couple of rounds. Unfortunately, he fell severely ill and ultimately, couldn’t prove his mettle to obtain the job which has an offer of $110,000. Galib never lost hope; he kept trying and finally managed to get the job of an Analyst at IBM, at a lower remuneration, $80,000 a year. He had to shift to Ohio. “Life was different there. The posh and pomp lifestyle that one can enjoy at the Big Apple was not readily palpable at the Buckeye State,” he reminisced. Besides the job, Galib put his people-person skill to test and eventually managed to gather 20 Bangladeshi students whom all were living together.

During this time, Galib decided to hone his skills further. In two years of time, he finished six courses which helped him get an offer from Capital One Bank, Virginia, as Software Specialist. “My life changed while working there, as I met Rama Krishnan, a great mentor who taught me many lessons about personal and professional life. I also met Pradip, who was my recruiter; we eventually became friends and started a new company called Transfotech. Like many startups in NYC, it was started in a garage. Paradip and I used to create free tutorials for those willing to build careers in computer science.” It was 2011 and their courses became popular among the non-resident Bangladeshi students who needed training in soft skill development, career management, and specialized training in the field of software development, software quality insurance et al.

Eventually, they started making full stack courses and became the support system for every Ghalib who has faced negativity and demotivation that had met them in their new found home. Transfotech, which started in 2011, now has become a very popular website and garners 20,000 hits per day worldwide. Many programmers who took up classes at Transfotech are now successfully employed in companies like Google, Homeland Security, etc.

Galib’s next big break came when he joined JP Morgan Chase in the position of a Manager for Management of Software Development. He was at the help of six different teams stationed in six different states in the USA. ” The job required a lot of traveling and for the first time, I got on-the-job ‘training’ on how to run a global team. Before starting that job, we worked for Microsoft and NetJet on various software projects.” While juggling all of this, Galib strongly felt the need to hone his skill as a manager. “The importance of skills in managing a team. It is when one is responsible for big projects worth millions of dollars. The specialization in the tech area alone wouldn’t enable me to excel as a manager.” In 2015, Galib got his next big break and this time in Homeland Security in the Software division for the $75 million projects of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration management. Galib boasted about his stay at the project which also recruited more than 30 Bangladeshi engineers. His team won several accolades and awards from the government for being the most professional and timely delivery of work. Galib also worked for Central Medical and Medicaid services, a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, until he joined his current position at the Federal Reserve Bank two months ago in the Software Quality assurance department.

While doing all things data, Galib never forgot his country and its rich heritage. The data geek is also a foodie and set up his own restaurant called Mirch, at New York, his second home. Simultaneously, he wanted to promote more Bangladeshis to the policy-making position; Galib recently worked at the IT advisor of Mizan Chowdhury, the first Bangladeshi who was a 2018 Democratic candidate seeking election to the U.S. House to represent the 5th Congressional District of New York. “I wanted the Bangladeshi youth to be empowered and politically active; I want them to have a life which is full of dreams, purpose and success stories.”

Galib has been closely monitoring the development of the IT and ITes scenario in Bangladesh. Terming the growth “phenomenal”, he said that, “while working for USCIS, I have got to gather experience about immigration and I can disseminate that information, which will be helpful to anyone willing to try for US Immigrant Visa.” With so many different experiences in data and software management, it is easy to assume that Galib would be an expert in cybersecurity issues. He helped the government of Bangladesh while putting together the Cyber Security Act. “This will raise many eyebrows but is a fact that 78% of women of 18-30 years are victims of cyber crimes, and 69% of them never get to tell anyone about that violence. This is why we need to be careful about this issue.” Nevertheless, he is highly optimistic that the youth of Bangladesh has finally set their eyes on the global outsourcing market in a serious way. “The entire market is worth $600 billion, of which 62% comes from the US and 20% from the UK. Of this huge pie, Bangladesh earns only something around $700 million. So the scope is huge. But our youth badly needs to brush up their soft skills and more technical knowledge to go up the value chain and do bigger projects. In addition, corporate training is a cry of the moment as outsourcing companies need people who are good at handling international clients.” During this vacation, he attended a seminar at the DC office of Comilla, where hundreds of youth who look forward to breaking a leg in outsourcing came to hear from him. He was all praise about the initiative taken by Badal Fazal Mir. honorable commissioner of the district. “This kind of initiatives will empower the grassroots people to dream higher and with their participation, the desired IT revolution in Bangladesh can truly happen.”

When asked where he sees himself in ten years, Galib looked relaxed. “One of the best advice I ever received was from a primary school teacher in Barisal, who said, ‘Sometimes the situation will demand to go one step backward in order to go one step forward into the future. Never hesitate to make that move backward.’ I am a person who always likes to go with the flow. Maybe I will join politics or set up a bigger business. I don’t know yet,” he answers with his signature-charming smile. With so many gems on his crown already, there is no doubt that whatever he becomes; he would put the welfare of the people first and eventually develop a tech empire that will empower the millions of youth tomorrow.

Written by

The writer is the Managing Editor of ICE Business Times & ICE Today and health and human rights enthusiast.