[Techie Tuesday] A straight-A student who found her calling in coding, Intuit India’s Tulsi Pargain believes in being a learner for life

Tulsi Pargain remembers tinkering with computers as a curious student. Today, she is the Staff Software Engineer at Intuit who is leading the platform that powers data-backed insights for Mint and QuickBooks.

Tulsi Pargain remembers tinkering with computers as a curious student. Today, she is the Staff Software Engineer at Intuit who is leading the platform that powers data-backed insights for Mint and QuickBooks.

Tulsi Pargain first got to see what a computer could do when a school friend got one at her home. As her friend and her brothers showed her the various programmes one could create and run on a computer, Tulsi was impressed. It wasn't long before she requested her father to get one too. Needless to say, she was immediately hooked on the idea that automation could replace human intervention.

From being a curious student to leading the data-backed platform for powering insights in Mint and QuickBooks, Intuit India's Tulsi has come a long way. What made the journey easier was her attitude of never saying no to learning.

Born in Uttarakhand, Tulsi spent her childhood shuttling between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh as her family followed her father who was a government employee. A straight-A student, Tulsi’s love for subjects like mathematics and computer science laid the foundation of a future techie. She went on to pursue engineering in computer science from Kumaon Engineering College, Almora, in 2005.

Channelling her inner techie

Entering college exposed Tulsi to new opportunities and ideas. Describing her experience as a whirlwind of interesting projects, hackathons and competitions, she feels these challenges honed her skills and served as a confidence booster.

One of the projects that she worked on in college included a travel management system, which could be used to book domestic train and flight tickets online. “I built the portal using PHP as a web server. The platform might not sound like something big – given how easy API integration has become today. However, it was a big challenge for me back then,” she adds.

Tulsi landed a job at Infosys right after college as a system engineer in Pune, and it gave her a chance to actively contribute to a product. “I was no longer just coding or testing my code. I got to interact with multiple stakeholders and incorporate their feedback to build a better solution.”

However, Tulsi was looking to play a bigger role in the design and execution stage rather than just being involved in coding. She started looking for opportunities and moved on to Infinera in 2012, where she went on to build impactful solutions – including helping clients migrate from legacy systems and use microservices.

Tryst with the startup ecosystem

Forever a learner, Tulsi was again seeking new opportunities to learn when she interviewed at Snapdeal and the experience couldn’t be more different! Late nights, busy schedules and an office where everybody knew everybody — the surprises kept flowing.

Snapdeal, then a budding startup, had just moved into its newly inaugurated office with its 50-member team. "It was a culture that I had never seen before, where people were picking up new skills and delivering solutions very quickly. I got a chance to work with open-source technologies like Apache Cassandra and Apache Kafka which only improved my learning curve,” she recalls.

One of the exciting opportunities that she got was the chance to design and build Snapdeal's API Gateway that involved creating a solution to filter API traffic via authentication and authorisation, rate limiting, among other capabilities.

Demo Day of First project in Mint

A few months later in 2016, Tulsi came across an opportunity to work in Intuit India by chance. She had heard a lot about the company from her friends and on forums like LinkedIn, and the company turned out to be worth the hype. "The first project that I got to work on was very exciting. While I had worked with AWS cloud services in the past, I got to explore its true potential at Intuit as we were moving from an Intuit-hosted platform to one powered by AWS," says Tulsi.

The project threw up many challenges like security concerns, open APIs and unencrypted data, but her experience of working with authorisation and authentication of APIs at Snapdeal came in handy. "Also, the team was very helpful in covering all bases and assisting you in case you were stuck," she adds.

Building for the masses

Tulsi went on to design and build a target management system with a mission-driven by a team of three that helped scout the most lucrative credit card loan offers available for Mint users. “The platform enables Mint partners to understand the best target audience for credit cards and loans based on predetermined criteria and history of credit score, age, transaction etc. The solution helps Mint users choose credit cards and refinance loans with the lowest interest rates,” explains Tulsi.

Icecream party after Customer obsession workshop

Currently, she is leading the team that generates data-driven insights which are powering Mint and QuickBooks.

Over the years, Tulsi has learnt several lessons. "One of the key learnings has been to never compromise with operational ease and security while building something. Also, your solution should be scalable and highly available."

Being a mother of a toddler, Tulsi spends her time striking a balance between her personal and professional lives and occasionally even enjoying new challenges. And her advice to young techies: keep learning something new. “This age and phase of your life is full of energy and passion and can make your learning curve exponential,” she adds.

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