Devops & Backend Engineer Rajesh (Raj) Kuni has a unique perspective on how Posh has grown over time. As just the sixth employee added to the Posh roster, he’s seen the company grow five times over since he started. With new hires accelerating Posh’s trajectory every day, Raj has observed and championed his team’s growth every step of the way. Despite those changes, Raj cites one crucial early tenet at Posh that has remained the same: trust your hires.
Trust in the people that you’re hiring. Trust that they will make the right decisions. Give them the freedom to explore any problems that we’re currently facing and let them figure out the solution without too much guidance. Believe in who you’re hiring and trust that they will do the job at hand.
Raj’s philosophy hearkens back to his own path. A path in which he was given the freedom to develop a sense of curiosity about the world.
Both Raj’s father and older sister also have careers in software engineering, which allowed Raj to learn more about coding as a career option before committing to it himself. In his later high school years, Raj was able to observe his older sister’s path as she studied software engineering in college. And, of course, it was his father’s career path that really set an example for Raj, an impact he’s able to reflect on today.
My father was the first person to go to college within his community. His drive led him to come to the US and let us have all these opportunities. As a kid I didn’t know that story, but as I grew older I learned about what he went through. That gave me the drive to learn about as many things as possible.
Though Raj’s family has deep ties to the tech and coding world, Raj doesn’t describe his path to becoming an engineer as one he felt pressured into. In fact, Raj recounts having a lot of freedom to develop his own drive toward subjects he felt passionate about.
I was able to do what interested me which, when I was young, was reading a bunch of books.
Based on his account, Raj was a curious kid whose imagination was captured by the vast possibilities of outer space and the mystery of what dinosaurs were really like. When Raj picked up an interest, he was a sponge for information, consuming fiction and non-fiction titles alike in order to mine for new information to share.
I remember telling my elementary school teacher that when a space shuttle launches it has enough thrust where, if it wasn’t acting against the gravity of earth, it would be able to go seven miles per second. That was something I told multiple people!
Young Raj was certainly an avid reader from an early age, but not only that. Raj wanted to be able to share his knowledge with others in the best way possible, which is what led him to become focused on writing in school. “I like learning about different words and trying to use them in my writing…Trying to express my thoughts as clearly as possible is what I wanted to do”
Though Raj’s interest in reading and writing is still strong today, it’s not the career he ended up pursuing. So what changed? The answer to that question involves a few moving parts. The first major influence on Raj was the instruction of two STEM teachers who explained subjects like calculus and physics for Raj in terms he could absorb and even retain to this day.
My calculus teacher would help us visualize by drawing simple diagrams on the board and that was all that was needed to get the gist of it. He would really make sure that everyone got it. His patience and deep understanding of the subject really helped.
The second major transformation happened when Raj participated in a Business Professionals of America (BPA) competition to create a point of sale system from scratch. Though his team didn’t win, the experience was enough to inspire Raj to consider the possibilities of coding and software engineering as a creative exercise.
That’s when I really got into writing code. It seemed really cool to create something out of nothing.
After completing his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), Raj moved on to a job that really pushed him out of his comfort zone. It’s not that Raj didn’t feel prepared intellectually, but his work as a Redhat consultant at Crossvale had him travelling to multiple businesses. For naturally reserved Raj, travelling from workplace to workplace had a learning curve to it.
Comparing my first client engagement to my last one there was definitely a change in how I was speaking to clients…I got more experience in how to talk with people. You might not know everything, but you can say that. You can say, ‘I’ll do some research and get back to you’ and that’s ok even if you’re supposed to be the expert in the room.
It was at this point when Raj was contacted by an old childhood friend. A friend who just happened to be heading up a young startup called Posh that could benefit from Raj’s full range of skills. While Raj had utmost confidence in his friend’s new venture, that wasn’t the main reason he was attracted to Posh.
At a startup you have the opportunity to have a lot more responsibility for things than if you were working at a bigger company. That was the main motivation for me to join.
Since joining Posh, Raj has gained a reputation not only for his contributions to the company’s critical missions but also for being an active cheerleader known for celebrating others’ successes. When asked to describe how Posh has changed with its recent growth, Raj prefers to focus on the core cultural elements that have stayed constant.
Posh still has the same character as before. Things are moving very fast, but I still have the same freedom to explore different ideas and solutions. I have the same amount of freedom I had when I first joined.