In 2011, Ravi Patel took the leap that would change everything.
He left a job of five years at Redknee Solutions, where he’d been successfully moving up the management ladder in R&D, and said goodbye to his home in Canada.
Moving to New York City, he took a position with Payfone, a start-up looking to pioneer mobile payments.
It was a risky career move, but also a challenging personal change for Patel, who grew up in Australia, moved to the United States in high school, then came to Canada in 1999 to earn his software engineering and management degree at McMaster.
“Both of those moves were tough in terms of establishing a social circle and a home in a completely new environment,” he admits.
“But it proved to be a risk worth taking and a great success in that I built amazing connections that helped me progress my career to where I am now,” Patel adds.
The position with Payfone, a smaller company where he quickly became Director of Solution Architecture, offered him the chance to develop his business skills and work closely with executives, venture capitalists and thought leaders at some of the largest companies in the United States.
That business acumen, paired with development and management experience from Redknee, proved invaluable when he collaborated with a colleague to launch their own company.
Working together, the pair built 1linx, a company that provides data security solutions including bitcoin authentication.
Since selling that company, Patel has moved into a CTO role with Airfind, a self-funded start-up with over 40 staff, offering software that allows content customization and monetization on mobile devices.
It’s a role that sees him oversee more than 20 employees working on a range of design, development and analytics teams, and demands strong management skills.
“I highly recommend engineers take the time to learn on the business side, whether with a business minor, an MBA or even just in a new job role,” he says.
And on the subject of daunting career moves leaps, Patel says he wishes he’d made his own earlier in his career.
“Engineers are often practical and logical by nature and as a result, often risk-averse,’ he notes. “My advice — don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone at times to really push and test where you can take your career and life in general.”