When Ravi Pendekanti ’90 M.S. was searching for a university to help him connect his idea of learning how software could make hardware more useful, our worlds were not so connected. The World Wide Web did not exist, and Pendekanti chose Florida Tech from a brochure in his library in India. He came to the Melbourne campus knowing little more than our strong academic reputation and proximity to the ocean and NASA. He theorized that understanding hardware plus software equaled a better customer experience, and he wanted to learn more. Beginning with his time on campus in 1988 as a graduate student, Pendekanti had a front-row seat watching the internet age unfold, with technology and innovation combining to shape the connected society we live in today.
Fast forward three decades and, indeed, we live in an increasingly digital world, and data is the currency that makes us a connected society. People rely on the shiny devices they hold in the palms of their hands to share photos and videos with family and friends, order food or summon a car service. The amount of data being created in the world is astonishing—doubling every seven or eight months.
In his role as senior vice president, product management and marketing at Western Digital, Pendekanti takes a customer-focused viewpoint that recognizes how the growing need for data storage solutions is shaping his industry. Western Digital delivers the technology that stores the data that makes our connections. He believes nothing is more important than ensuring his firm takes care of data, so people can relive their memories and make more in the future.
Pendekanti points to the underpinnings of his education at Florida Tech as being pivotal in his career. His graduate thesis explored graphical user interfaces long before we were swiping on the faces of our phones and watches. His early research took place on the Sun Microsystems workstations that were available in his computer lab. He experienced a full-circle moment after going on to work for Sun Microsystems and earning the chairman’s award early in his career.
Pendekanti’s focus on bringing the customer experience to life continued in roles with Silicon Graphics, Juniper Networks and Oracle. He considers his time at Dell Technologies particularly rewarding. Prior to joining Dell as senior vice president, server and networking product management and marketing, Dell never held the market-leading position in the more than 20 years since it began shipping servers. Pendekanti changed that statistic—catapulting Dell’s flagship line of PowerEdge servers to the top.
More and more daily tasks are fueled by computing power, data and artificial intelligence, supporting Pendekanti’s belief in the power of technology and innovation. His seat in the heart of Silicon Valley provides a view that is everything he imagined.
“It is the best place on the planet for anyone who is a technologist,” he says. He is grateful for the opportunities and education he received at Florida Tech, where he acquired all the knowledge he needed to make it in Silicon Valley.
This piece was featured in the spring 2022 edition of Florida Tech Magazine.