Life at Transcend: Dipack Panjabi, Technical Lead

May 6, 20224 min read

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Welcome to the latest installment of Life at Transcend!

In this series, we take a few minutes getting to know a member of the Transcend family––learning about their past and the path they took to Transcend.

Meet Dipack Panjabi, our Technical Lead.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Human being; I like to read, game, hike, drive moderate distances, and more recently have taken up flying. Not much of an adventure junkie, but I do love the outdoors.

Grew up in the desert country of the United Arab Emirates, moved to India for my Bachelor’s degree when I was 17, and then moved to the United States for my Master’s at 23.

I mostly read science fiction, with a few thrillers and crime books thrown into the mix.

Describe your path to Transcend. How did you end up here?

My path to Transcend was fairly standard, at least when compared to a lot of my friends. I grew up an NRI (non-resident Indian; colloquial term for Indian citizens who’ve spent most of their lives outside of India), who then moved to India when they were 18 (in my case, 17) for their higher education, i.e. Bachelor’s degree.

After 4 grueling years of engineering, I worked for a Wall Street bank based out of Bangalore, India for a couple of years, and then moved to the US to pursue my Master’s in CS with a double major in Machine Learning and Software Engineering (with some Security thrown in).

I describe this journey as fairly standard, as I’ve seen a lot of people both in my circle, and out of it, take this same path to come to the United States in search of greener pastures.

Personally, I wanted to move to the US for a couple of reasons.

One, I’d decided at the age of 14 that I wanted to get a Master’s in CS a couple of years after my Bachelor’s, and the US definitely has some really good schools, with a better attitude towards learning stuff compared to India. Two, the US is the place to be, when it comes to working on innovative solutions to a lot of problems! Case in point – Transcend, and data rights + privacy.

In terms of how I ended up at Transcend… During my first year internship of my Master’s degree, I worked for another Wall Street High Frequency Trading (HFT) firm, and while I loved all the amazing perks that came with it (including having an office that had the only terrace in 4WTC), I realized that I did not want to spend the rest of my software engineering career working on things that had no real human value.

By the time my internship concluded, I had made up my mind that I wanted to work for a startup working in a space that I was really passionate about.

It was difficult to find such a place, specifically because I was an international student who would need to be sponsored once my student visa expired, and I definitely lost a few opportunities that way. But I eventually found Transcend on TripleByte and knew that I wanted to learn more about what they (we?) did. Mike reached out to me on the platform, and in less than a week I had the job. :)

Side note: I also find it interesting that Mike reached out to me partly because of my internship at the aforementioned HFT firm.

What do you work on at Transcend?

I work on the Data Privacy Infrastructure (DPI) team at Transcend, as a software engineer, and occasionally as a Tech Lead.

I work on a bunch of stuff, primarily focused (currently) on our backend systems that actually process data subject requests (DSRs), and serve as the backend for various customer-facing APIs + Sombra––tinkering with our business logic, and infrastructure code. I also do some front-end stuff (reluctantly) from time to time.

I prefer working on the backend + infrastructure side of things, as I feel like that’s where my interests lie. The interesting thing about working on this side, is the sheer variation in the kind of problems I (attempt to) solve on a daily basis.

Whether it be scaling to meet our customer’s DSR processing needs, or trying out a new piece of tech to better architect our application, there’s a lot of different things that I end up working on, and I like having to juggle multiple problems over the course of the week.

What’s your favorite part of working at Transcend?

This is something that I bring up in almost every interview with a candidate, but I absolutely love the fact that I get to work on something that aligns so closely with my interests in data privacy + rights.

I also massively appreciate that the people I work with are very competent, and have their own specialties, which makes for a very “chill” (relatively) working environment, as it means that I can work on things knowing that I can depend on my team. I’ve worked at places before where this hasn’t been the case, and being who I am, I end up trying to compensate for those deficiencies, leading to a poorer work experience for myself.

Another amazing thing is our remote-only approach, which the 2019 version of me would have been appalled by, but the 2022 version of me really loves as it means that I get to travel more, and don’t have to commute everyday.

What’s one value that resonates with you, and why?

I believe people should have the right to control the dissemination of their personal information. The world as it stands today, makes this (almost) impossible due to a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is that we haven’t yet adjusted to being an always-connected, always-surveilled species, considering how quickly we made the leap to smartphones, portable computers, and widespread internet access.

The next best thing is to give people the right to find out what information corporations, and governments, have on them, and to delete that same information. Which is why what we do here at Transcend resonates with me so strongly – I believe that with a combination of strong data rights laws like GDPR, etc., and technology that makes it easy for companies to actually comply with these new data rights, we can achieve a basic degree of control over our personal information.

Where can we find you when you’re not logged on?

When I’m not logged on, you can find me either at my local airport learning how to fly, reading a book, playing Hollow Knight or Red Dead Redemption 2, or cooking at home.

I also love traveling, which is something that going remote-first has helped tremendously with, since I can now work from anywhere within (or out of!) the country, all while still being able to “meet” with my colleagues. I also try to hike at least once per week, just to get away from the city life for a bit.

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