Bharath Parlapalli
Senior Software Engineer
, Ascend Learning

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background.

I am a software professional with a background in robotics programming, game theory, and industrial engineering. Currently, I am a development lead working on a data analytics platform. I build pipelines to collect data from various sources (sometimes thousands of data points a second) and collect findings from that data.

How has what you have learned in the program impacted the work you are currently doing?

I have gained the skill set to handle the business and technical sides of my company, taking our business from 20th-century to 21st-century success. The case studies we have done in class were just so apt to my current situation; it felt like the course was tailor-made for people like me who want to make a difference in their organizations.

What has been your greatest takeaway from the program?

I have been able to take my leadership skills to a whole other level.

I have been able to go straight to my general manager with my ideas—and she recently told me she was excited to lay the groundwork for implementing them in the future.

These ideas would have remained ideas had I not taken the program.

How will what you have learned make you a leader in your industry? OR How has it made you a better leader in your industry?

I have gone from being a software engineer—known for my expertise on web applications—to proposing projects the company should work on to distinguish ourselves from the competition.

What has been your experience collaborating with classmates in an online environment?

I was worried that an online course would mean a bunch of prerecorded videos— but this class environment pushes you to do better. My cohort and the collaborative environment have challenged me every step of the way.

What was the most valuable thing you took away from the immersion? Is there a particular moment, activity, or connection you made that stands out to you?

I was at a lunch table with a venture capitalist, a business strategist, and a marketing person—and I am from a technical background. We discussed issues that we had each approached from our own viewpoints, but were able to understand and appreciate the viewpoints of each side of a business. Usually, these discussions happen in a company, but the underlying tensions, politics, etc. dilute the actual message. The immersion provided a platform for people from different backgrounds to present their ideas openly.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

In the movie The Matrix, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is sitting on a chair in his ship. After a few minutes, he opens his eyes and says, “I know kung fu.” At the end of each course, this is honestly how I felt.