Employee Spotlight: David Zhao
Our team at Peregrine is made up of dedicated individuals with deep law enforcement experience and technologists committed to supporting public safety. We will be periodically highlighting what makes Peregrine most special – the people. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
David Zhao is a Full Stack Software Engineer at Peregrine. Since David joined the team in the fall of 2021, he has dedicated his efforts towards building robust data infrastructure for Peregrine’s platform. Read on for five questions for David to learn more on his role.
Tell us about your professional background and what made you want to join Peregrine.
I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and statistics. Eager to apply the skills I learned, I graduated early and started my career at Palantir. There, I began as a Forward Deployed Engineer, where my responsibilities included engaging with customers on-site, integrating data, and configuring networks.
What ultimately led me to Peregrine was my increasing desire to build world-class software, not just configure it. Peregrine afforded me the opportunity to do just that, while also leveraging my past experience. A startup like Peregrine has a faster-paced, more creative environment – there’s freedom to learn, explore, and experiment. There’s a direct link between the effort I put in and the outcomes we drive for our customers. It’s rewarding.
Explain a unique technical challenge or problem you’ve worked on during your time at Peregrine.
One of our main mandates as an engineering team is to maintain the inherent flexibility of Peregrine’s platform. That flexibility empowers our deployment strategists and enables our team and customers to configure the platform in a way that meets their needs without custom product. It’s a huge differentiator for us. Prioritizing configurability over customizability is a force multiplier for our engineering team, letting our implementation team address nuanced customer needs without bottlenecking on product development.
One project was all about reducing strain on the source systems from which we integrate data into Peregrine. To do that, we changed from running queries and transforming data in the source systems to doing that on the Peregrine side, a data warehouse, after extracting raw data from the source systems.
The technical challenge came not only from building the right abstractions to do the data processing work outside the source systems effectively, but do so in a way that was performant, maintainable, and cost-efficient. Further, this new data integration paradigm unlocked the next level of flexibility for our implementation team. They can now more easily, and at scale, join data from different source systems to solve the unique problems each of our customers face.
Which company value resonates with you the most?
I wanted to join Peregrine because I knew I could grow faster than if I were anywhere else. I know that I can confidently try new things, make mistakes, and learn from the best here at Peregrine because of our deep-seated commitment to empathetic communication. We’ve created a culture of learning and lean on each other to bring our best work. Through this, the way we help each other and demonstrate empathy not only towards our teammates but towards our customers is a big reason why I love working at Peregrine.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to work at Peregrine?
We’re trying to build the best-in-class product, best business, best recruiting engine, best customer experience, best everything. We strive for excellence, and that requires excellent people. My advice for someone who wants to build all that with us is to be engaged—ask questions, talk with people, push us to be better.
For someone in the early stages of their career, they’d find tremendous opportunities to learn like I have, and do meaningful, hands-on work. The mentorship opportunities have been invaluable. Our team has a diverse set of experiences in different industries and brings different technical ability to the table.
Experienced engineers can leverage their expertise to solve hard problems that impact society every day. This team genuinely wants to grow and build together, and you will feel the unwavering support of your teammates.
What special skill or superpower do you bring to Peregrine?
I enjoy pushing the boundaries of how our platform can serve our customers. I tend to dream big with our capabilities and stay in the pursuit of thinking about what’s over the horizon, what benefits we can provide, or what we can do on the technical side to unlock value for our customers. I want to give a special shoutout to my teammates on the data team. They are phenomenal mentors and friends, and it’s because of them my journey at Peregrine has been so amazing.
Do you want to take ownership of your work and contribute to the development of some of the most-used features in our platform? Join us in our mission to make cities safer across the U.S. Check out our open roles and start your journey with Peregrine today. Together, let’s build the future of public safety technology.