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From gaming to platform engineering, Sundara Raghavan’s journey

Like almost every other computer science graduate in the late 2000s, I started out as a Java software developer. From the beginning of my career, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with and adapting to new tech. I also had an innate curiosity about building new tech products from scratch.   

I believe this stemmed from my childhood obsession with video games like Contra, Road Rash, NFS, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Counter Strike and DoTA. I had always pondered about the work that went behind building these worlds. And the people who created these cool applications. That inquisitiveness turned into a desire to develop programs. I particularly wanted to create beneficial ones that can enhance lifestyles.  

How it all began 

I started my career in a relatively smaller firm. But I always wanted to be part of a startup culture. I believed that the hustle of a startup helps you evolve professionally and personally.  

I moved to Crayon Data in 2013, when Big Data and ML were starting to gain attention. When I joined the Box, I hardly knew any of the terminologies associated with Big Data or AI. Self-learning through blogs and research papers was key. I used the takeaways to experiment on my projects. It was an entirely new domain, not just for me, but for every other industry in this space. We had to #GetShitDone!  Eight years into this immersive space, I engineer solutions and design ideations for projects.  

Being the backbone 

Platform engineers are constantly examining the features and solutions of the software. We’re figuring out ways to improve it – from design to implementation. Even in terms of ongoing support to the backend, a platform engineer is the spinal cord of the system. On a typical day, I’m always seeing how we can strengthen our solution capabilities and execute them. 

I strongly believe that the ‘Mission is the Boss’. So does my team. We’re all working towards the same goal. So, we set our priorities straight and focus on getting the right solution out in the market. This also involves embracing feedback from my team. I let it soak in, empathize where it came from, and act accordingly.  

So, what do I like best about platform engineering?   

There is an end state to solving tech problems. We can’t have any loose ends! When we figure out a solution, we feel super confident. That’s a huge motivational factor for techies. It also helps that every day is different. As technology keeps evolving, so do platform engineers. We will always have a problem to fix – which is an interesting upside to look for!  

To keep up with this pace of change, we invariably have an ocean of continuous learning to do. The tech community and online platforms are a resource hub for enthusiasts like me. The best thing about this ecosystem is that it’s a massive network, and everyone is easily accessible.  

If you’re just starting out as a platform engineer, here are a couple of pro tips: 

  • Debugging can get frustrating. Do not spend too much time at a stretch on a single problem. Step back, get some perspective, then tackle it again.  
  • Be strong in the fundamentals of programming. Work on getting the logic of problem solving right. New languages can always be learnt. 

Hustle, learn, grow 

Getting into the Big Data space before the boom was the best decision I’ve made. With the explorative environment at Crayon, I had the chance to be a part of major digital transformation projects. I could increase my knowledge by working with multiple clients and experimenting. Since then, we have continued to embrace and invest in recent technologies.  

Over the years, I’ve learnt how to embody our Crayon Value of ‘Responsibility with Freedom’. Remote working was not a new concept to us when Covid hit. We’ve had the option to work from home for years before. I’ve appreciated this flexibility coupled with our fast-paced culture. I’ve also seen how we set evolving goals that we work towards unitedly. 

Want to jump in the Crayon Box? Check out our open roles here.

Author avatar
Sruthi Ravishankar

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