Human 10000

11 min readJun 2, 2022


London, UK

Portrait: Paul Mampilly

A famous Japanese proverb states, ‘Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.‘ The concept of ‘sensei’ traditionally used to address martial arts teachers and instructors has been used time and again to describe exceptional teachers and mentors that have shown an amazing quality to lead and inspire people around them.

This is one unique story of a ‘Sensei’ who navigates a world of data. All technologists that we know today have been inspired somewhere at some point in time by some passionate computer science teacher or some effortlessly cool programmer and mentor who transformed their lives. These ‘Senseis‘ are the reason for bringing us all together in the tech domain.

So here’s introducing the magnanimous mentor extraordinaire, Paul Mampilly, who is a data analytics associate and consultant at Xander Talent from the United Kingdom and has been mentoring diverse techies from various backgrounds and domains with his skills and expertise. He has been navigating the world of data and finance for several years now and has passionately helped learners across the world transition into the data science domain. These educators are not just changing lives, but transforming communities and empowering people to come forward in the tech industry with their contributions.

Introducing Human 10000

His formative years

Paul recalls growing up in several parts of the United Kingdom. He was born in the North and spend the majority of his early life in London. His father’s job as a doctor required the young family to move frequently.

He recollects, ‘Due to my dad’s job, we moved around a lot and lived in Northern Ireland,also in Scotland and London.’

The experience as he reveals taught him to adapt and helped him to learn to settle quickly in unfamiliar situations, which has bolstered his career.

He explains how he is the first member of his family to be born outside of India. His father, Dr.Mampilly, left his job as a medical school professor in the 1980s to pursue opportunities outside of his home country.

‘It was the 1980s, and he had to deal with things like discrimination. He has achieved a lot in his career. I really admire him for facing adversity head on and progressing each day.’ , he reveals.

The senior Dr.Mampilly had indeed shown his children the path of resilience and determination. It is something Paul wishes to pass on to his children as well.

He would say, ‘When I look at my father and see what he has accomplished in face of adversity, it is something I want to carry forward and instill in my son.

The young family had to live in a less than desirable neighborhood in the early days, and he recalls how both his parents worked extremely hard to provide for the family in a new country.

I was the youngest and sort of shielded from the hardships. But I knew times were hard.’, he confesses.

As the youngest member of the Mampilly household, he describes how he became the family’s peacemaker, trying to placate those around him whenever there was conflict.

He cheerfully recalls, ‘Everybody around me was argumentative and forthright. I was always the peacemaker of the house.’

This skillset is something he explains that has helped him sail through challenges both in his personal and professional life.

Photo by Ajmal MK on Unsplash

God’s own country

Kerala, a coastal state in South India, is known around the world as ‘God’s own country,’ thanks to its pristine beaches and backwaters. It’s a place close to his heart and where his father is from. He recalls reconnecting with his Indian roots and traveling to the land of his forefathers.

He describes, ‘I have really grown to appreciate the quietness and stillness of the place. It’s like time has slowed down.’

He recalls not being able to recognize the uniqueness of his native land as a child, and now as an adult, he truly appreciates the peace and tranquility that the place has to offer. His wife’s family also hails from there and it is a holiday that the whole family looks forward to each year.

The people are always friendly and inquisitive. And the food is definitely one of the best part about the place. I wasn’t born there, but they’ve always made me feel at home‘ , he reveals.

He got married there as well, and he has many happy memories of his time in the exotic country. And one such memory that he treasures the most is his father’s speech on his wedding day.

My son maybe different from me, he is not argumentative …but the way he handles things is amazing.‘, he remembers.

It was a significant moment in his life when he realized how proud his father was of him, no matter who or what he was.

He expresses, ‘It’s only when you get older that you recognize things like these.

His father has always been someone he has looked up to, and he explains how the lessons he has learned from him have stayed with him throughout his life. As a young adult, he recalls making decisions and choices without recognizing the necessity of starting with the basics and laying a solid foundation. And how wise his father was to tell him to build on his foundations.

One of the biggest lessons he has taught me is to know my foundations, and then build on it. You have to start from the basics.’ , he recalls.

Now as a professional in the consulting world, he explains how he advices all his mentees to make sure they have their fundamentals correct. He hopes to foster this value in his son as well someday.

Build your foundations and nobody can shake you.’, he advises.

A mentor’s journey

He recalls that his first introduction to leadership was competing for the position of president of the Hillhead Residential Society during his university days, and that this experience taught him a lot about interpersonal skills and connecting with people.

He narrates, ‘I got a couple of bag of sweets and told everyone that vote for me or don’t vote for me everybody gets a sweet. And I won by a landslide.’

One of the most important lessons he has learned along the way is the value of asking for feedback. He recollects a recent project in which he felt he had not done his best, and he explains how he was looking forward to the performance review feedback, specifically the negative feedback.

He describes, ‘It’s terrible to see it in black and white … your flaws and your weaknesses. But I needed that feedback. Getting a pat in the back is all great but it is your mistakes that shape you to become the person you are.’

Constructive criticism is something that he feels steers people in the right direction. Being able to face challenges head on is something he believes he learned from his father’s perseverance in the face of adversity. He recalls another project in which a client lost their cool and how he ensured that his team remained calm enough to resolve the issues.

We can point fingers and blame people. Your ego can be bruised. But it’s important to learn to brush things aside and find solutions to the problems.’, he retrospects.

It is a lesson he tells to any team he leads, that such experiences are meant to teach them, and that keeping a cool head is something that will help them get through such difficult situations. As a consultant, he advises on how to lead with confidence and provide people with the best solutions possible.

He instructs, ‘In the consulting world, you have to learn to be humble and confident. But most important of all you have to lead with no ego … no ego at all. If someone has a better idea, let them take it on.’

He stresses on how important it is to learn to take a step back and learn from others. Getting everybody involved and giving a space for people to contribute their ideas is a way as he explains to lead productive teams.

Foray into Data Science

Getting into the realm of data was not a linear path. He recalls how, on the advice of his brother-in-law, who is a psychiatrist, he decided to major in Psychology at university. But he felt it was a course that didn’t really help him reach his full potential. One of his classmates suggested he consider taking a master’s course that would help him transition into IT.

I found the course amazing and I really enjoyed studying it.‘, he remembers.

His first job in the tech industry involved being in the backend of data management and handling databases. He explains how he didn’t really have a definite plan when he forayed into the tech domain.

He advises, ‘Don’t get into things without a plan. Always have at least a Plan A.’

The next job he had was in a credit card company, and he describes how that is how he got into finance from data. And he stayed on the job because he had just started a family and was determined to provide the best for them.

However, the pandemic made him reflect on the life he was leading. And his wife gave him a much-needed wake-up call by asking him to evaluate what he really wanted to do with his life.

My wife was the one who told me that I needed to make a decision on what I wanted to do. Either I carry on with finance or I find something that I actually enjoy.‘ , he reflects.

He admits that he was doing well in the finance world, but he still felt like there was something missing, and he recalls reaching out to mentors on various platforms. That really changed the course of his life.

‘So many great people out there and their advices really help me find what I do today.’, he recollects.

His journey into the tech domain is something he attributes to the incredible people he has met along the way. His passion for data stems from one of his most influential mentors, Dr. Yaji Sripada, who taught him SQL and database management systems at university.

He remembers, ‘He explained that some of us may not be natural programmers because programming entails thinking like a machine. However, skills can be learned through practice. You don’t have to be great at something right away, but you can get better by practicing.’

It’s a piece of advice that he now gives to his students and mentees, that you don’t always have to be great at something straight away, and that skills can be acquired over time through hard work and practice.

Advices from a mentor

He recalls that the field of data analytics had not yet evolved to its current state when he was in college and there was limited knowledge about the domain. So the early adopters had to learn and unlearn things along the way.

There are three important lessons he has realized that he wishes everyone entering the data science domain would incorporate into their careers. The first lesson he describes is to learn to clean as well as manipulate data in Excel as most companies still store their data in spreadsheets. The second lesson is to recognize that SQL is the most important tool in your toolbox.

He explains, ‘SQL is the love language of data. One has to know the inside out.

The final lesson is to learn how to present data using visualization tools while keeping in mind what insights the data actually provides.

Making pretty charts without any insight is just making pretty charts. There has to be an end point, an insight into what the data represents.’, he advises.

This amazing mentor has been actively creating various content on LinkedIn throughout the week to support learners transitioning into the data domain. He describes it as his way of giving back to the community that has given him so much.

My Mondays are for career advice, Wednesdays are for cheat sheets, and Fridays are for follow Fridays.’, he cheerily mentions.

Throughout his career, he has been aided by incredible people, and he recalls how many wonderful data professionals have guided him in the right direction. And he believes it is now his responsibility to mentor others who are now on the same path as he was on a few years ago.

Munnēāṭṭuḷḷa bhāvi

On being asked what data represents to him, he expresses how it resembles creating molehills of insights and informations from the enormous amount of data around us.

He explains, ‘It is like taking mountains of data to make molehills of insights.’

But data is not his only love.

Ours was an arranged marriage. I do advise most of my single friends that one has to learn to mold oneself around the right person.‘, he advises.

His wife has been his constant support in both good and bad times.

He reveals, ‘The best part about our relationship is that we both complement each other.

There is now another human who has their ultimate love and affection.

‘I love my son to bits. He could be a little acrobat seeing the number of times he jumps on the sofas. But whatever little dreams he has, I will always support him. He is a joy in our family’s life.’, he blissfully admits.

There are a few life lessons he wishes to impart to his children someday. One of them is to know that there will be people who will judge you based on what you represent and it is important to understand to move forward in such situations with nothing but grace and dignity. And another one is to follow their dreams no matter what it is.

He acknowledges, ‘There will always be biases and prejudices in the world. People may not like you for who or what you are…in such situations, it is importance to persevere and move forward. You have to go forward with grace.’

Paul’s extraordinary journey has been nothing but awe-inspiring. From being a mentee to now mentoring thousands of students across the world, this incredible mentor’s life has taught us how to persevere through all odds and adversities. It is an important lesson that a father taught his son a long time ago and that has been flawlessly implemented by a remarkable mentor.

As a bespectacled Sensei who showed us the path to self-discovery would say, things happen and everything doesn’t always have to make sense at first, but not giving up is the most important thing to do.

We believe him wholeheartedly when he says…

The dude abides’




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