This interview with Narinder Singh, president ofTopcoder, which administers computer-programming competitions, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.
Q. Were you in leadership roles early on?
A. I grew up in Cincinnati, and became interested in the martial arts as a teenager. I got a black belt in taekwondo and was soon teaching classes of 15 to 40 people, most of whom were double my age. That was an early experience in understanding how to take command of a situation, get people excited about learning and hold them accountable for their own progress.
I was also captain of the mock trial team in high school. It was really an opportunity for me to push the envelope in a safe space. I’m a Sikh by background. I look different. I stand out. So understanding how to operate with a spotlight on you was a real growth experience.