Our team at Petuum is made up of incredibly talented people. This series features the engineers, managers, and creators that keep our company moving forward and make us proud of the work we do together.
Saranyan Vigraham is Vice President of Engineering at Petuum. Previously, he was a VP of Engineering at Elementum, where he led their enterprise SaaS platform team that digitized the supply chain for Fortune 500 companies like Starbucks and Johnson & Johnson. Prior to Elementum, he was the Head of Software Engineering at Meta, delivering the industry’s first Augmented Reality platform with natural gesture controls. Saranyan has also held engineering leadership roles at PayPal, Bigcommerce and Qualcomm, bringing with him a diverse engineering experience of shipping enterprise and consumer products across web, mobile and wearable platforms with millions of users. Saranyan holds a Ph.D in Computer Science with a focus in Machine Learning.
Why did you join Petuum?
I joined Petuum partly because I could see that Artificial Intelligence is going to be transformational and is at the cusp of becoming mainstream. The other part has to do with my two children, who are always on my mind. I am constantly thinking about how the world they’re growing up in is going to change and how I can help shape this world consciously.
What I saw with Petuum was a chance to not only build AI but a chance to build AI responsibly that helps enable people, not marginalize them. There’s a strong belief out there that AI will make people irrelevant, but it’s really the lack of AI technology that will make them irrelevant. I could see that Eric and the Petuum team shared this mindset with me, and that is why I took the opportunity to help them make it happen.
What do you do at Petuum?
I’ve only been here for a short bit, so honestly, my job so far has been asking a lot of questions. The only way to lead this already strong engineering team is first to understand everything they are building at Petuum. My job is to set this team up for success and create responsible technology together. With such a talented engineering team, we can design a product that will help accelerate the time for enterprises to adopt AI.
What are you most excited about at Petuum?
Definitely, the people. This is a fantastic group of people that show up to work every day with the right attitude. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working closely with so many different groups at the company already, and I have been so impressed with what I’ve seen. Each person believes in their work and the mission of the company. I came here to build AI in the right way that will help change the world. And after meeting this team, I am convinced that this is possible and that it will happen.
What project have you enjoyed working on most at Petuum so far?
My direct work with one of our industrial customers has been my favorite. I was able to go onsite and see our product in action, and it was incredible. I don’t have a background with industrial companies at all, so everything I’ve been learning and working on with this customer has been a challenge, but that’s what makes it so exciting. Listening to the customer, understanding their needs and seeing exactly how our AI is going to benefit each person and their company was just wonderful. Hearing how we’re helping our customers directly from them reinforced Petuum’s mission in my mind.
Do you have any advice for people pursuing a job at Petuum or another startup?
Passion is the number one thing that any person must have to work at Petuum or any startup. Every day is a grind with some good days and some bad days. You need to remain charged up despite the challenges and the roller coaster that comes with a startup. You need to have the right perspective, believe in something beyond yourself and want to accomplish something in the world. There’s a reason you wake up every morning, and you need to aspire to show that in your work.
What do you love to do outside of work?
I try to spend all my free time with my family. My sons are four and six years old, and I love every silly minute I spend with them. My six-year-old is very outdoorsy, so we love running in the park, dirt biking, and pretty much any other activity in the California sun. My four-year-old of course wants to be just like his older brother, so he’ll follow right along. I am happy they love the outdoors, so I don’t have to work too hard to keep them away from my iPad or other electronics. Technology has a lot of benefits, but it can also cause harm. The level of access is way different than when I grew up, so I want to make sure that they are exposed to the right technology.
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