I have fair experience in my industry (9 years). I joined a new company before 1 year.

Company A was already working and has their own product, Company B comes, acquires it and makes it an overseas subsidiary of B. Now Company B wants to localize their existing product by using Company A's resources. At this point in time they recruited me in Company A, because I have experience in working with teams in different countries.

Company A:

The problem is I am exclusively working on Company B's product's localization, so no any training or knowledge transfer happened from company A's side. I requested it from my reporting manager (CTO of company A) but he just ignored me. And he remains secretive too, not giving me access to any of the existing repositories or documentation, because he thinks that I don't need any knowledge of Company A's products.

Company B:

They just dumped thousands of code files of their existing products, some of which are developed 17 years back. And they have lot of self made tools (Excel to .c converters, Visio to .c converters, so many BAT files for post processing of Hex file etc. all made in-house). And they have a very stable team of developers (I checked in change history records) almost the same people working for the last 7-8 years. And maybe no new people joining their team. So they are all habituated to the products, development environment, tools and codes. And they just assume that I will also somehow "just get it".

And another thing is that very few people in company B knows English, so almost all the documents, code comments and tools are in Japanese. I am given only one contact person (maybe because he knows English) who is not a software guy, he is more of hardware and project manager guy.

Most of my queries is turned down by that contact person immediately on requesting.

Me: "Can you arrange a walk through of the software so I can understand it better?"

Him: "umm.. why would you need that?"

Me: "Because I want to understand the code properly before I change it"

Him: "You just have to study it, you can start with void main() and study from there"

Me: "OK... but if you tell me about architecture or something it would be helpful"

Him: "I don't understand why would you need that"

Me: "How do you train someone who joins your team?"

Him: "Similarly, we ask them to study the code..."

I lose all my hope after conversations like this.

Now comes the expectations from company A, they have already made a product launch timeline and everything without considering challenges like these. And if I ask too many questions, my boss thinks that I am not competent enough to understand the existing code.

TLDR: Employer don't understand that I cannot suddenly understand the code which they are working from last 10-15 years, without their help. And deliver the result in short time. If I can't do it they doubt my skills.

How to navigate the situation here?

  • That's a tough nut and could be quite incinsiderable of them, though maybe it could be a time-issue or language barrier on their side as well so I wouldn' t immediatly assume bad intentions. I guess you are left with to options: Polish up your CV and start looking elsewhere, or try to study the code and requirements using your favorite search engine's translation tools..
    – iLuvLogix
    Aug 10, 2021 at 9:56
  • 1
    Your manager ignored you? How did they respond when you asked again?
    – Jeroen
    Aug 10, 2021 at 11:55
  • @Jeroen yes, ignored completely. They don't share code or document from Company A unless i have to implement same feature in Company B product. And then too they will copy only that part of code in a .txt file (which is not compilable individually) just to show the concept of algorithm.
    – k3y4r
    Aug 10, 2021 at 12:38
  • 3
    But what does your manager say when you tell them that you cannot do your job properly without their help?
    – Jeroen
    Aug 10, 2021 at 13:11

2 Answers 2


I have a feeling I may have an idea who Company B is, given that they are a large Japanese tech conglomerate who likes to acquire other companies, particularly overseas companies, and particularly companies in the Eigo-ken (that word doesn't translate to English properly, sorry mods XD), and rebrand them and try some weird type of hack-job to integrate them into the existing infrastructure, usually poorly.

If this company is who I think it is, I have a work history there and I had a similar experience when I worked there to the one being described, all the way down to a senior person who is thought to have a strong command of English but didn't really. If this company is who I think it is, my solution to this situation was to find another job; I worked for this company for about a year, but after failing some of my initial tasks at the company (which were, like yours, untenably difficult given my experience level; they dumped 15 years of legacy production code on my lap as a new grad and expected me to be able to debug it and benchmark it without so much as a devspec, at least not one in English), they essentially sidelined me for a year and I wasted a year of my career deskwarming at this company.

So that's my advice. Given all the flags you are saying in your question, I am almost certain it is the same company, and my advice would be: That company sucks, get out and find yourself a job at a company that isn't toxic.

  • 4
    Eigo-ken = Anglosphere. Aug 11, 2021 at 1:10

I don't know about this company or this specific situation, but I was in a similar situation once, when our company took up maintenance of a bank software, from another competing software company. We got all Legacy code dumps, with no knowledge transfer.

However my manager was completely aware of the situation, so I got one month time for analysing the code, also I was not alone, I had a five members team to work with me. So I divided the code analysis work among everyone, did spend time on finding out tools that could be used to understand the coding flow in a pictorial way (for human to understand fast), also used tools that report the complete dependency hierarchy of execution, asked other teams how they managed similar situations, used those acquired knowledge in our work. Once documentation of individual components were done, it was easier to put all parts together and have a good understanding of the overall functionality of the system.

Of course, having a proper documentation / knowledge transfer would have made our job easy, but unfortunately it is not possible always.

My suggestion is to try your best and tell your boss what you need, to perform the work. If he still does not cooperate and it seems impossible to manage, then quitting might be a better option.

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