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Research Manager Cv


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									Your Research Career

  Chandu Thekkath
  Microsoft Research Silicon Valley
Assumptions and background
   You:
       Graduating or recently graduated Ph.D.
       Experimental system scientist
       Research career in industry or academia
   Me:
       SW Engineer („83-‟89). Ph.D.(„89-‟94)
        Systems researcher („94-present)
       Worked in industrial labs (DEC, Compaq,
           One year on sabbatical at Stanford
           Research manager for 3 years
The talk
   Personal, prescriptive, and sometimes
   Based on my experience and many
    researchers I interviewed:
       Fresh Ph.D.s to Turing award winners
           1 year out of school to over 2 decades in the field
       Mix of software and hardware systems
           Some theoreticians
       Both men and women
   No guarantee any of this is repeatable
Things that matter
   Choice of areas, topics, and projects

    Who you collaborate with and how

            positionYou
    How you Management your research and

    yourself to the external world

    Your management and how you are
                      Visibility

Topics, areas, and projects
   Picking the problem is usually the hard
       Spades and toothpicks (Roger Needham)
       Lofty goals vs. concrete results
       Solvable vs. high risk problems
   Topics that are fun and meaningful to you
       Would you use the system? Would anybody?
       Plan to evaluate your system (if not use it)
   Problems that annoy you
       Find a way to make it less annoying
Topics, areas, and projects
   Technology leads systems research
       The bleeding edge yields nuggets
       Immerse yourself; fortune favours the
        prepared mind
   Inter-disciplinary projects
       Conferences outside your area
       Be open and broad and experiment with many
   Research career spans 20-25 years
       Change topics. Keeps you alert/inventive
       Choose projects that you will learn from
Topics, areas, and projects
   Develop good taste
       Like wine tasting, the more you do it, the
        better you get at differentiating good from
   Accept ideas and input from others
       Be willing to work on other people‟s ideas; they
        will sometimes work on yours
   Avoid the tyranny of the LPU and the
    paper chase
       Focus on learning more than CV building
Your colleagues and
   Good systems research requires
       Multiple researchers with different strengths
   People who are smart, inventive, different
    from you (and nice to hang out with)
       Move on if you make a mistake
       Don‟t obsess over credit; evens out
       Don‟t antagonize people (we are opinionated and
        full of ourselves)
   Hang around people whose work you
    admire. Try to become technical friends
    with them
Your colleagues and
   Neither a minion nor a manager be
       Collaborate as a peer (hard if collaborator is
        senior and in a hierarchy)
   Use your colleagues
       Advisors, users, critics (c.f. conference PC)
   Look for external collaborations
       Not always easy: geographical, organizational,
        political hurdles
Promoting yourself externally
   Your research and user community
       Publications, talks, participation in
       Making your system available externally

   The product division in your company
       “Technology transfer”: transferring your
        knowledge or research artifacts

   Funding agencies
   Number of papers vs. number of citations
       Publish only things of which you are proud. Weak
        papers can mar a strong CV.
       Huge difference between writing a paper vs.
        writing the best/definitive/seminal paper on a
       5 papers a year vs. 1 SOSP paper, 5 times in a row.
   Avoid boondoggles, however attractive
       Ultimately, where you publish will reflect on your
   Your peers may judge you by your submissions
    (not just your publications)
   Write papers that
       Teach your readers something
       Contain results that can be reproduced
   Be generous with credit. E.g.,
       Don‟t get hung up on author order
       If you are not presenting at the conference, Use
        other prestigious venues (e.g., colloquia at top-tier
   Papers get rejected for many reasons. Don‟t
    lose confidence and self-esteem
       Find venues to talk about rejected work if you
        think the work is good.
       Ask for advice from your more experienced
       Fix the shortcomings of the research.
       Take your time, re-evaluate your decision to
   Be a conscientious reviewer/PC member
       Word gets around if you are a sloppy/indifferent
        PC member
Technology transfer
   Don‟t confuse research, advanced
    development, and product development
       You may do all three at times, but be aware of what
        you are doing
   Product folks have a different mindset
       Respect them; they are smart but they march to a
        different beat.
   Don‟t expect your research system to be
    immediately useful
       Gestation period can be a few years
       Develop a research pipeline
Technology transfer
   Use product development to learn about real
       Real usage reveals real problems
   Move between research and product
    development (gasp!)
       Work as an advisor or architect
       Attend design reviews
Management & environment
   Management style matters in research
       Top down vs. bottom up can make a huge
       Research is best done from the trenches rather
        than from the hilltops
   Make sure you know how research is actually
    done in the organization
       “Research” or “Researcher” may not mean what you
       Do you have freedom to pursue your research
           If not, how much of it is directed by group lead/manager
           Can you live with this?
Management & environment
   Is research your primary responsibility?
       Or is it done in your spare time
       Is it done only for a fraction of your time
   Will you be rewarded for doing only research?
       No product impact for an extended time?
   Do projects have to be “approved” or “funded”
       By somebody (e.g., your manager)
       By some group (e.g., a product division)
   Do you have enough resources for
       Travel and equipment
       Visitors/collaborators/interns
Odds and ends
   Living your life and being a researcher at the
    same time
       What fraction of your social/family life are you
        willing to give up.
       Pick a balance that works for you.
           Being happy is more important than being a star researcher
   Know when to give up
       If you are not having fun being a researcher, do
        something else.
           Many fulfilling non-research careers available for a Ph.D. in

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