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On the Record with Rose: Ninad Khalate


Ninad Khalate reflects on his seven-year tenure as a software engineer at Brightspot, from making the connection as a passionate Java developer during a career fair to deploying innovative features and solutions for Brightspot CMS customers. Outside of work, Ninad's passion for sports—and especially soccer—places Barcelona at the top of his travel list.

How long have you worked for Brightspot? What brought you here?
I have been at Brightspot for almost seven years—time flies by! As for what brought me here, I was in my final year of my Master’s program and I went to a career fair where I met Parker Ramsdell (Brightspot VP of People, Mission and Culture) at the Brightspot stall. We talked for a while and I got to know the company culture and that Java is Brightspot’s core programming language. I love coding in Java and it is my first programming language. So, it was a good match and it made perfect sense.

What inspired you to become a software engineer?
Math was always my favorite subject in school. When I was a junior in high school, I had a professor who introduced us to programming and the way he taught it made an instant connection for me. I was instantly in love with programming and I quickly decided this is what I would want to pursue as a career. I felt like the fact that you get to tell computers what to do was a very privileged skill to have and I was lucky that I liked it. I decided to pursue it, got my Bachelor’s and my Master's in computer science—and here I am now as a software developer.

What do you enjoy most about your role as a developer? What do you find most challenging?
Since I was a kid, problem solving was always one of the things that I really enjoyed. I still love that aspect of being a software developer, plus that I get to do a lot of it daily in my role. I also enjoy analytical thinking and being challenged to come up with fun solutions to interesting problems. As far as challenges go, the tech industry is kind of an always-evolving beast. There’s always new things coming in and the curious kid in me always wants to keep up with it. I want to know about all the new things that are happening and be in the know and try to learn them. Keeping up with it all can get slightly challenging, but I think I love it because it means more new stuff to learn every day.

Is there a particular feature you've built or a problem you've solved that you are most proud of?
Recently, I got to develop a whole audience system for one of our customers. It was a way of serving very personalized content to front-end users based on their assigned areas and whatnot. The customer has very distinct roles for everyone and very targeted content for people that consume the content on their website. This new functionality, which serves specific content to targeted audiences, also had to be super secure. There were very strict rules built around things like permissions and restrictions.

Another feature I helped develop is a dynamic taxonomy, which recently got added into our platform extensions library. I can't claim full credit for it as the idea initially started from others at the company and I got to take it over and build on top of it. But it's so rewarding that many projects will now get to leverage the final finished product.

You've worked on lots of interesting projects over the past six-plus years. Is there a particular one that stands out to you? If so, why?
I've actually loved all the projects I have been on—there have been so many. I love them just because I have learned so much from each one of them. However, I have to say two of them stand out. The first one would be the Los Angeles Times project because it was such a big team and I got to be a part of the core migration efforts that were involved with the project. This meant moving all of their millions of legacy data into Brightspot so they could seamlessly carry with all of their legacy content on their newly redesigned site. It was a great team to work with and I really enjoyed being part of that project. The other one has to be my current project. This customer has its own client developers, but I get to be their Brightspot point of contact, defining the roadmap for how they want to take forward their CMS and what customizations they need to add. It's a fun team to work with, too, and I get to go on trips to Utah to meet with them. It’s a good change of pace and I get to see the client in person, which is always fun.

In 2018, you traveled to Seattle to volunteer with your co-workers at the Special Olympics USA Games. How did that experience—less than a year into working at Brightspot—set the tone for the rest of your time with the company?
That’s a great question. As you mentioned, I signed up to go to Seattle less than a year into my time at Brightspot. Being kind of an introvert, that was a huge leap for me. I don’t usually go up to people and quickly make new friends, but a little voice inside of me said I should try this experience and try something new. I was very scared when I signed up, but what a decision it turned out to be. It was such a great experience seeing the enthusiasm of all the athletes that were there. I got to experience an Olympics-like atmosphere where it’s competitive, challenging but also so much fun just to see the spirit of everyone there. It was such a great experience, and then I got to meet some of my colleagues that I would have never interacted with because they were from different departments within the company. Since that trip, they have become some of my closest friends, so it was kind of a win-win. I have been in touch with almost all of the people I went with and I made some really good friends.

Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
I have to say the responsibilities that you’re given. You get to kind of own the things that you're developing or putting out and helping customers with. In my current role, I get to advise the client on some best practices for Brightspot and help them get the most out of Brightspot as a platform, so that they see their implementation as fruitful. Having that sense of responsibility and ownership over what you do and what your tasked with is fun and I thrive with that. I also like the company culture in general. I know I’m not supposed to say people, but I'd also say the culture that the people bring to the company.

What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I enjoy being in the outdoors running or playing any sport, so that changes with the season. It’s getting warmer now so I enjoy going out and playing tennis. Soccer is my favorite sport to play, but it can be challenging to get enough people to play, so my backup is tennis. To pick an indoor activity, I think I would pick drawing or sketching. I do digital drawing on my iPad which is kind of my escape if I’m feeling stressed or if I get too worked up. I also like bingeing TV shows and there’s always TV on in the background while I’m working on something.

I just learned that your favorite soccer team is FC Barcelona. Why is that team your favorite?
How much time have you got? I can go on and on. My love for soccer started when I watched the 2002 World Cup Final between Brazil and Germany. One player then that caught my eye was Ronaldinho on the Brazilian team. I started slightly following football after that and the very next year he signed with Barcelona. I started watching the games and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the style they play at Barcelona. It's called "tiki-taka", which I think just translates to pass and move. I fell in love with that and loved that Ronaldinho was there. Then it just so happened that a lesser-known—at that time!—Argentinian kid came through the academy named Lionel Messi. It was so much fun to watch him play and ever since Barcelona has been my team.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Just to piggyback on the last answer, it would be Barcelona. I’ve heard the city is so beautiful, so I would love to visit and explore. I know Spain is beautiful in general with good beaches, but Barcelona is always up there. I'd love to watch FC Barcelona play at their home stadium, but they’re in the midst of rebuilding Camp Nou, so I’m going to wait it out till it's open and they're hosting games. I think once it’s done that’s definitely gonna be my first trip.

Rose Pleskow Brightspot employee
About the Author
Rose Pleskow has been working at Brightspot since 2011 as a content and quality assurance specialist. In addition to writing employee profiles, Rose has played a critical role on a variety of client projects with her keen eye for detail and Brightspot publishing expertise. She has contributed to the launch of various projects ranging from SpecialOlympics.org to Amazon Science and Healthgrades.


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