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.
Hitesh Dholakia is the Vice President of Product at Petuum. Hitesh joined Petuum from Blackwood Seven, an AI marketing platform company. There he was their Chief Product Officer and led the team that built Hamilton AI, the world’s first in-silicon data scientist. Hitesh also worked on building successful Machine Learning and Data Science products for several companies including Sysomos, eBay, and Yahoo. Hitesh earned his BS in Computer Science, followed by an MS in Artificial Intelligence from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
Why did you join Petuum?
I joined Petuum because it was a very exciting opportunity in the artificial intelligence space. I was particularly drawn to Petuum because I believe in the company’s unique vision and mission. Also, it is a company with the substantial investor backing needed for creating a bold and impactful platform. After being in the AI/ML space for several years, I have learned that there are still significant issues blocking AI adoption:
- Enterprise and applied AI require AI solutions to scale
- Taking ideas into production has been elusive for most customers
- The lack of AI talent globally will mean businesses will struggle to transform themselves to stay competitive or relevant
Petuum is addressing these three massive opportunities, so it seemed like a perfect fit.
What do you do at Petuum?
I am responsible for Petuum’s Symphony AI platform. My job is to set the product direction, roadmap and definition of platform requirements so that we can deliver the right product to the market that is aligned with the vision of the company. I work with my team to synthesize customer needs and with Engineering partners for quality implementation to achieve faster development of both industry vertical and general-purpose platform products.
What are you most excited about at Petuum?
I am most excited about the incredible vision that Eric has set forward and our ambitious goals. What makes me even more excited is that we have a super smart and talented team that I get to work with to achieve those goals.
Why Product Management?
I am an engineer by trade and did my Masters’ thesis on AI. I realized as a product manager that I have a far greater influence than any other role I could have. I saw that I could create more value in organizations this way. I have now been in product management for 15+ years at various companies, including Yahoo and eBay.
Do you have any advice for people pursuing a job at Petuum or another startup?
When joining an early-stage startup like Petuum, look at the team you will be working with and the vision of the company. Startups provide uncertainty but incredible opportunity to learn. Be ready to do whatever it takes to make things happen. Finally, you need to passionately believe in the company’s product and the group of people that are building that product. Those two things are going to make the company successful, not the big company name.
What do you love to do outside of work?
I am an amateur astronomer and astrophotographer. I became interested in Astronomy when I built my first telescope as a child and have stayed with it ever since. I spend a lot of weekends traveling to dark sites (i.e., remote locations) to observe and photograph galaxies, nebulas, and more that you cannot see in the city. I love my hobby and am proud that I could inspire my twin sons to take up this hobby now as a professional carrier. They are currently pursuing Astrophysics at UC Berkeley.
The hobby provides me the guiding light for my day-to-day grind as a Product Leader – “Shoot for the stars & galaxies yet sweat the details with your feet firmly on the ground!”
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