From middle class roots to leading data platform engineer: the story of Pardhu Gunnam

Photo courtesy Pardhu Gunnam

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While the world of technology has witnessed its share of incredible success stories, few are as inspiring as Pardhu Gunnam’s journey from a small-town boy to a venerated Data Platform Engineer. Raised in India from a middle-class family, his father served as a modest accountant and his mother was a housewife, however, Pardhu’s early years had little direction or awareness about education and opportunities. Yet, his unquenchable thirst for knowledge and commitment to excellence saw him rise above his circumstances and excel in every opportunity presented.

A crucial opportunity in Pardhu’s journey presented itself when he secured the All India rank of 118 among 330,000 students across India, winning a scholarship to the National Institute of Technology Warangal, one of India’s most prestigious universities. He pursued his undergraduate degree and paved his path into the world of technology.

Post-graduation, Pardhu’s career kick-started with a four-year tenure at Cisco Systems and NetApp India office. It was during this period he realized the value of further education, leading him to the University of Florida for his Master’s in Computer Science. This pursuit of knowledge was rewarded when he secured a sought-after role through campus placements at Amazon.

After a fruitful tenure at Amazon, Pardhu sought fresh challenges, leading him to join LinkedIn as a founding member of the innovative Metrics Platform team. His contributions were instrumental in developing a first-of-its-kind data democratization platform called Unified Metrics Platform—a game-changer for LinkedIn’s transformation into a data-driven organization. His outstanding efforts were recognized by LinkedIn’s management, and he received rapid promotions, eventually becoming the Engineering Manager of LinkedIn’s Metadata team.

His career at LinkedIn also saw him co-lead the open-sourcing of LinkedIn’s Metadata work under the name, DataHub. This pioneering project in the data domain was embraced by the industry and adopted by multiple prestigious organizations and data practitioners.

Capitalizing on the success of DataHub, and backed by LinkedIn leaders and top data experts across the industry, Pardhu took a leap of faith. He left LinkedIn—together with his tech lead, Mars Lan—founded Metaphor Data in November 2020. Metaphor Data, under Pardhu’s leadership, attracted interest from over ten top VC firms and secured early investments from those who had backed multi-billion-dollar companies like Databricks, Fivetran, dbt Labs, and Datadog.

Two years since its inception, Metaphor Data has grown significantly, raising over 10 million dollars in funding, hiring more than 15 people, and developing innovative products in the data space. Its products have been sold to various organizations and adopted by thousands of data practitioners globally.

Despite his remarkable success, Pardhu remains grounded and deeply committed to giving back to the tech community. He frequently shares his insights and expertise through conferences, blog posts, and podcasts. Moreover, he aspires to guide and mentor hundreds of students from rural India, helping them to realize their dreams and potential.

Pardhu Gunnam’s journey, from modest beginnings to becoming a leading data platform engineer and entrepreneur, serves as an inspiration to all individuals who dare to dream. Through his hard work, determination, and unwavering commitment to personal and professional growth, Pardhu has left an indelible mark in the tech industry. His story continues to motivate others to overcome challenges and turn the seemingly impossible into the absolutely possible.

From middle class roots to leading data platform engineer: the story of Pardhu Gunnam
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