Beyond The Data: Ajay H N, Sr. Data Engineer

Welcome back to our employee-centered series,  Beyond the Data! This month, we’re venturing to our India office to feature Sr. Data Engineer, Ajay H N.

Fun Fact: Ajay loves to take spontaneous trips with his wife Manasa. Prior to COVID, they made a fun habit of taking unplanned trips to less crowded locations, typically anywhere with mountains and beautiful forests.

Tell us your name, where you’re from, and a little about you.

My name is Ajay H N and I currently live in Bengaluru, Karnataka, (India) with my wife. I am originally from Halebidu, well know as Dwarasamudra – Capital of the Hoysala Empire.

By now you might be wondering what ‘H N’ in my name stands for. Here in our state, some names don’t have a surname, instead, we have initials indicating origin and father’s first name. So ‘H N’ stands for Halebidu Nanjundappa (my Father).

I completed my primary education in my hometown and secondary education in JNV. I got a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from SIT. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I started my career as a Software Engineer. Since Jan 2020, I’ve been part of the phData family as a Senior Data Engineer.

Picture of Ajay in Paris at the Eiffel Tower

What does "Sr. Data Engineer” mean? What do you actually do on any given day?

Data Engineer is an ETL/ELT (E: Extract; T: Transform; L: Load) expert who helps to build the solution around data, to ensure the availability of data based on when, where and how queries.

A Sr. Data Engineer on the other hand is the one who helps to build the best practices around the solution based on their experience. They are also the ones to train their team. As a Sr. Data Engineer at phData, I spend my day doing one or more of the following tasks:

  • Plan my week and day
  • Gather and understand client’s requirements and propose possible solutions 
  • Interact with my project team to discuss project status
  • Implement and demo the solution
  • Learn something new 
  • Share my knowledge and guide the team 
  • Gather with the team leads to discuss and implement best practices (from a technical/process standpoint)
  • Volunteer and participate in fun activities to keep the mind fresh 
  • Hangout with the DE India team

Tell us about the Data Engineering team. What is it like working with them every day?

I’m part of the DE India team. It’s a small, but mighty team of 18 experts. We have members from the associate level to Sr. Solution Architects. These young minds are lead by Hiresh (Director of DE India) and Noor (Asst. Director of MLE India).

Due to the pandemic, we are missing our team hangouts and interactions, but we still meet virtually every Friday morning to get to know each other better. We also meet on Project Knowledge sharing sessions, to learn more about what is happening in other projects.

We have members who are multi-talented, like Rahul (who is a self-learned Guitarist), Hiresh and Shravan (they read a lot!), and Mandar (who is very jovial). My experience with the team has been fantastic since the day I started at phData. I love that I can reach out to anyone in the company and they’ll respond quickly with no barriers.

Interested in working with Ajay?

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How long have you been with phData? What past experiences have prepared you for your job at phData?

As I mentioned before, I’ve been with phData since January 2020. I started my career in IT back in 2008 and have since worked for many companies under different domains. My keen ability to build quality solutions made me choose the path of Data Engineering. Since then, I’ve never stopped building my competencies in data handling tools and technologies. phData captured my interest as a company that works with many data solution platforms.

What is the one thing you want customers to know about phData?

At phData, we give more importance to customer success. Everyone here is dedicated and talented. When you hire phData, you don’t just get the few Engineers you asked for, you get every employee who is always willing to help each other.

What are the most exciting things you’re working on and how do you see them positively impacting our customers?

To be frank, I find all the work I do exciting. I’m working on a project which involves automation of the Spark data pipelines on Databricks using Airflow on AWS. If we see the trend these days, everything is getting automated and most of them are moving to cloud-based solutions. Everyone here at phData is building their competencies based on these trends. Also, phData encourages employees to learn and get certified, keeping us up-to-date.

How do you like working from home? Do you have any WFH tips that have helped you during this challenging time?

I really like phData when it comes to work ethics, especially how employee-friendly they are. I’ve always wanted to work from home but without knowing the difficulties I might run into, never jumped on the opportunity. Now that we are officially a remote-first company, I see many advantages and disadvantages to WFH.

To talk about advantages:

  • It’s flexible, work from anywhere
  • No commuting
  • Eat home food whenever I want
  • More time for family and friends

Anything repeating becomes boring, hence some of the advantages have become disadvantages over time. To talk about disadvantages:

  • WFH has reduced our physical activities, as we don’t travel much
  • Missing team hangouts, virtual hangouts don’t give the same feel as in-person
  • Difficulty finding a quiet place to work in home
  • Too many interruptions, now that kids are home

Here are some of the tips I think can help overcome these issues:

  • Have a dedicated room for work
  • Increase workouts to keep physically fit
  • Have a dedicated time for breaks to spend more time with family or personal work
  • To avoid power-cut issues, have a power backup

Outside of work, what's your life like? What do you do for fun?

I’m married with no kids yet. So, it’s me and my wife Manasa, staying in South-West of Bengaluru. My parents are staying in their hometown. My wife is a Psychologist who teaches and provide counselling for the needy. At home, I’m lazy. But I do like to travel a lot.
All my travels are mostly unplanned. My wife and I like mountains, forest, and any less crowded places. We also like to trek a lot. This pandemic has been our enemy, tied us in our apartment, so we took up another hobby of watching some of the best TV series on Netflix and movies on Prime Video. 

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