From the time he was a child, Tarun Gangwani adopted technology as an integral part of his life. He remembers helping friends and family members build websites and learning from the success of his father’s software company.
That early exposure to the tech world helped land Gangwani on the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 list, which recognizes leaders and innovators in 20 categories who are younger than 30 years old. The 2007 Carmel High School graduate is on the Enterprise Tech list.
Thousands of candidates are nominated for the list each year. Other breakout talents on the list this year are fashion designer Lauren Conrad, Star Wars actor John Boyega and Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.
The 2007 Carmel High School graduate is now an offering manager with IBM in San Francisco where he leads a multiple disciplinary product development team in designing Bluemix through a $1 billion investment. Since its creation, Bluemix has become the largest cloud foundry implementation in the world. Its purpose is to allow companies to build, deploy, manage and scale applications and services across multiple open-source technologies.
Gangwani said he was shocked when he heard he had made the list.
“I thought it was a dream,” he said, “It was a good way to start off the year and a crazy awesome blessing.”
Building a foundation
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Gangwani and his family immigrated to Indianapolis so Tarun’s father, Haresh Gangwani, could complete his studies at the University of Indianapolis. Haresh now runs his own software company called ConsulTeams as a platform to connect and advise independent consultants.
After graduating high school, Gangwani went to the University of Pittsburg but soon transferred to Indiana University. He completed both his undergraduate and master’s degrees at IU, majoring in cognitive science and human-computer interaction design.
“I contribute a lot of my career to my beginnings,” Gangwani said.
While an undergrad, Gangwani started working with the university’s IT services, where he consulted in the technology center for more than three years. He was responsible for delivering IT support to every student on campus and eventually became a consultant supervisor.
“The experience taught me how to manage people and problems,” he said, “I saw opportunities for ways we could improve support through tackling more difficult problems and offering better training.”
Not only did Gangwani manage, he also mentored. Marty Siegel, director of graduate studies School of Informatics and Computing was one of Gangwani’s former professors. He spoke of Gangwani’s tenacity and his heart for mentoring.
“Aside from his many intellectual gifts, Tarun is a superb design strategist who is persistent in understanding human experience as it may interact with technical possibilities,” Siegel said, adding that Gangwani is intellectually fearless.
One risk Gangwani took was to begin his own freelance design business during his college years to help small businesses and individuals with website building.
“I was practicing in and outside of the classroom,” he said, “It was rewarding to give back to the community.”
In addition to freelance work, Gangwani was also able to gain experience through his internship with enterprise company Teradata. He chose the Indiana location for his internship over other offers such as San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, because the Indiana managers showed a personal interest in growing his career.
“This experience allowed me to come up with concepts for marketing software and was a great base to my career today,” Gangwani said.
Gangwani also developed his leadership skills by restarting a chapter of Interaction Design Association (IxDA), which is a worldwide design organization. It quickly grew to 100 members in just a few months.
His involvement with IxDA eventually introduced him to opportunities at IBM. He started his IBM job in May 2013 among the company’s first set of designers for Bluemix. There are now more than 1,000 designers.
“I truly feel that my work has a real impact on how the world does business,” Gangwani said. “I get to work on complex problems with some of the smartest people in the tech industry.”
Meet Tarun Gangwani
Hobbies: Borderline “coffee snob,” reading business and biography books, and writing for blogs.
Favorite place to travel: France—“It has such a charming atmosphere.”
Dream job: It involves delivering products that millions of people use every day and improves how the world works.
Favorite food: Greek food
What motivates you: Difficult problems that require intense collaboration and innovation.