Database and Machine Learning expert, Lead Vocalist on “Dance with Me”

Ketki Purandare: You in the Private Cloud: A bi-weekly series of conversations with IBM talent around the world

The people in IBM Private Cloud come from so many different countries, backgrounds, and traditions that we can sometimes feel like abstractions to each other. These interviews are a chance to correct that feeling — a chance to focus on our common goals and endeavors, and enjoy our diversity.

On a recent trip to Boston, I convinced Ketki Puranare’s manager to free her up from user interface (UI) development long enough to talk with me.

You’ve been a full IBM employee less than a year, but you actually started at IBM in May of 2015 as an intern on IBM InfoSphere information Server (IIS), working in the data governance team. What was that like? I was one of five interns working on a hybrid on-prem solution for data standardization. IBM has a good vision in this area: We could all learn something new, and the product could benefit from the latest technology. We chose AngularJS as the framework for the front end, and for most of the internship, I worked with the Data Standardization team to develop a service to view and add standardization rules.


How did it go? Great! I was able to create a working proof of concept (POC) and did some fun stuff like customizing Apache Tika™ with a csv parser so users could upload a csv with standardization rules. In the second half of the internship, I worked with the Information Analyzer Thin Client which involved writing a REST layer to use existing functionality of the on-prem solution and make it available on a browser as well as developing the entire UI in AngularJS. I learned a lot under the mentorship of our architect— especially since I got to be present from the inception of the project and attend the Design Thinking sessions.

It sounds as though you experienced a true IBM immersion. I realized right away that this is a place where I have a lot of opportunities to grow by working with such experienced people and trying out new challenges with different technologies and tools. There’s so much pooled expertise, it’s inspiring to be a part of it.

Tell me how you decided to study computer science. When did you first know it could be a passion? I wasn’t totally into computers as a child and actually aspired to be a medical student. Then my older brother chose Computer Engineering as his field of study, and I started to get interested. I must’ve been about 14. Sometimes he’d ask me to try out a snippet of code in C/C++ using logic. When I was able to solve it I felt awesome and I think that was what got me interested in pursuing computer science myself.

And it sounds like you’ve been working with logic and algorithms ever since. I know you got your master’s degree in Advanced Databases and Machine Learning. How did you like the program at SUNY Buffalo? The master’s at SUNY Buffalo was a thrilling experience! We had some of the best professors and worked in small groups or even individually on projects like building an indexer and retrieval system similar to Apache Solr™.


Where do you see yourself 10 or 15 years from now? My ambition for the long term is to be a software architect or a Fellow/Distinguished Engineer. I’ve done this at a small scale in my master’s’ projects, but I want to provide blueprints for larger solutions. We have a speed-mentoring initiative here at the Littleton lab which I haven’t taken advantage of yet, but that’s at the top of my list right now.

Would you say you have a philosophy around coding and work? A professor at SUNY Buffalo used to say you never get a project right the first time. Most large projects need to be scrapped and redone to improve the architecture. I had a similar feeling after completing projects in grad school where I’d think I could’ve done it better had I done it another way. You can only get that sense from experience.

I know you spent time in Pune, in the west of India, not far from Mumbai. It’s one of the fastest growing cities in Asia but also really known for research and education. What’s it like? Pune is known as the Oxford of the East! It’s a great city and attracts a large number of students from all over India every year for its quality education. 

Speaking of culture, what do you do outside of work? I used to be the lead vocalist in a band in my school days back in Pune. We used to have concerts and even compose music for local movie productions.


What kind of music did your band play? Fusion music like Indian Classical with Rock. There’s a song called “Dance with Me” that I sang in Marathi as part of a movie called “Mission Possible” in 2010. We were still undergrads back then.


Thank you, Ketki. You’re obviously destined for great things at IBM and I feel so lucky to have you with us on Private Cloud.



Name: Ketki Purandare

Years at IBM: 1

Home town: Pune, India

Currently working on: UI for Information Analyzer

All-time top five songs:

  1. Bring Me to Life — Evanescence
  2. Sweet Child O’ Mine — Guns N’ Roses
  3. Chammak Challo — Akon
  4. New Day has Come — Celine Dion
  5. Vande Mataram — A. R. Rahman


Dinesh Nirmal

Vice President Analytics Development

Follow me on twitter @DineshNirmalIBM


Apache, Apache Soir, Apache Tika, Apache are trademark of the Apache Foundation

One thought on “Database and Machine Learning expert, Lead Vocalist on “Dance with Me”

  1. meenakumari January 6, 2018 / 6:29 am

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