Guru Khalsa
Guru Khalsa is passionate about solving problems using technology. He loves learning, refactoring, and making customers happy. And surfing. He co-founded Zoomforth and is now an engineer at PlanGrid.

Who am I?

I'm lucky enough to have been born and raised in San Francisco and I still can't get enough of this city. After high school I attended UCLA, where I developed a passion for building software. It was an easy decision to come back to SF, where the software grows on trees. And needs gardeners. Or something.

I'm stoked that I get to make a living by crafting systems that interact with the complexity of the modern world. It demands a sense of curiosity and vision, and provides a sense of accomplishment at nearly every level: from getting a small part of the code to work all the way up to the completion of a major project. Beyond the intrinsic pleasure of the work, I get to interact with brilliant people along the way. There are challenges in this career, of course, but it's a field that suits me well.

If my career is the bread, then what's the jam? Surfing. I love to surf. Surfing has elements of challenge, adventure, meditation, excitement, comfort and fun. But beyond that it nourishes me with an almost spiritual sense of meaning and deep engagement with the world. I like other activities -- kiteboarding, rock climbing, reading books, playing guitar, playing games with friends, and so on. But somehow surfing stands alone in what it means to me. And I appreciate the doctors, Pilates instructors, yoga teachers, and others who have helped me maintain my health such that I can continue to be so active. It's not something to be taken for granted.

What do I work on?

I love the opportunity to learn new skills and to strengthen old ones. Developing software demands dedication to constant learning, so that matches up nicely.

Of the roles that I can play, I feel most confident in my abilities to build and improve web applications as an engineer, particularly if it involves working in Python or JS. Over my career, though, I have come to appreciate that software is primarily about people, not just the technical challenge. It's built for people, by people, and people are often driven by desire, fear, joy, pain, and other emotions. So I strive to empathize with my team and my users, and to remember that software is not about the computer, but about us.

From a technology perspective, all of us in the field now are lucky to be standing on the shoulders of giants. There is a tremendous wealth of open source software, and an overflowing library of knowledge about our field shared through books and online resources. I'm grateful to the creators and maintainers of the software tools I use. Without software such as React, Webpack, Jenkins, PostgreSQL, Elastic Search, and countless others, my job would be a whole lot worse.

Why do I have an Indian name?

If you don't yet know me, you may be curious about my name.

My full name is Guru Bakshish Singh Khalsa. I'm not Indian, so what happened? Luckily, it wasn't an accidental name-tag switch at the hospital as a baby. My parents converted to Sikhism before my birth, and I was given a Sikh name. I was raised Sikh, and although I no longer follow all of the disciplines of the religion such as wearing a turban and eating vegetarian, I am deeply thankful for the values and culture that guided my upbringing.

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