Tell us about your background and how you ended up in this position.
I studied computer science at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute in Potsdam. Then I got super lucky as my mom won a Green Card, enabling me to work in the US when I graduated. During my studies, I attended an Apple conference and met a guy who was working at Uber. He referred me for an internship in the San Francisco office and I started that right after university. Following my internship at Uber, Palantir reached out to me. I knew quite a lot of people working there, so I called them up and asked them all sorts of questions. Everyone kept telling me how great it was and that I would be a good fit. The positive feedback coupled with the opportunity to live and work in New York, a city I always loved, made me decide to start working there.
Could you walk me through your role; what does a typical day or week look like?
At Palantir, it is very hard to define what a typical week looks like, as it largely depends on the project you're working on. I recently became tech lead so I spend a lot of time talking to our clients, bringing in a technical perspective and working with users to make sure the things we’ve built meet their needs. As a technical lead, I also manage other forward-deployed engineers to ensure that they can get their work done by removing any blockers and keeping them happy and engaged.
What are the most important qualities that you need for your role?
You definitely have to be a doer. We have flat hierarchies here, and we enforce them. Our teams work in a decentralized way, meaning each has decision-making authority, and so we don't have managers in the traditional sense and no one that is there to manage you. You need to recognize problems yourself and look for ways to solve them.
What is the most fascinating thing about being a Forward Deployed Engineer?
Definitely the people. Both my team members at Palantir and our customers. We work with a lot of Fortune 500 companies on some of their hardest challenges. It's really fulfilling to help them build solutions to solve those problems and you can see your impact very quickly.
We work with a lot of Fortune 500 companies on some of their hardest challenges. It's really fulfilling to help them build solutions to solve those problems and you can see your impact very quickly.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position?
There are multiple challenges. We work with clients of different sizes and industries. Sometimes there’s lots of bureaucracy involved and it’s hard to get access to the right stakeholders and convince them that you’re there to help them. Our job is to make their lives easier and help them do their job. Also, we work with a lot of data that is very messy. Just making sense of it all is also a challenge.
We hire people from all kinds of different backgrounds. In fact, some of our best people, especially when it comes to deployment strategists, don’t have a background in tech
What are the misconceptions people have about Palantir?
I think there are a few misconceptions. One is that people think that because we’re a tech company, we only hire software engineers. This is not true: We hire people from all kinds of different backgrounds. In fact, some of our best people, especially when it comes to deployment strategists, don’t have a background in tech. They could have done marketing at Nike or a PhD in chemistry. But these people are just super smart.
Second, people think Palantir is storing data, which we are not. We just give our customers a product that they can populate with their data.
What advice would you give to people who want to work at Palantir?
Honestly, just go for it! That's what I learned through my friends that joined Palantir or other big tech companies. I always felt kind of intimidated by big tech names, thinking I wasn’t ready for it. Then I saw friends getting jobs at those companies and it made me realise that I could do it as well. We're all humans. So just apply and see where it goes from there.