Some might call it an unusual childhood hobby, but Sarah Krasnik loved to organize while growing up. Today, as a data engineer at Perpay, not much has changed.
“I genuinely enjoy organizing data, even down to coming up with naming conventions that help consumers of our data logically deduce what the data represents,” said Krasnik.
As an undergrad at Johns Hopkins University, Krasnik majored in math and computational linguistics. Despite her ostensibly left-brained bent, Krasnik believes the work she does as Perpay’s sole (for now) data engineer engages the right side of her brain more than one might think.
“Building a data architecture — that’s my creative side,” said Krasnik. “There are infinite ways to go about it. I get the opportunity to figure out which direction to take, which tools to use, how to mold all of the layers of data together into a nice little box from which we make informed decisions.”
Perpay is a mission-driven fintech company based in the Aramark building at 2400 Market St. in Center City. The company helps people pay for life’s big ticket items — furniture, appliances — based on income, not credit score. Perpay works with customers to identify how much they can comfortably afford to pay each month, and payments are made directly from the customers’ paycheck each pay period so they never miss a due date or overextend their accounts. The company recently launched its latest product, Perpay+, which helps customers build their credit for only $2 more each month.
The mission to help people build healthier financial habits is what initially drew Krasnik to work at Perpay. The opportunity to build a data analytics infrastructure from scratch was a close second.
“We’re building a data engineering infrastructure that can scale with us,” said Krasnik. “I want to lay groundwork that can be built upon, not gutted down the line.”
Krasnik might be a pioneer on her team, but she’s among a growing group of data engineers building the systems that companies use to access and gain insights from their ever-more-bountiful volumes of data.
At Perpay, she has her work cut out for her. The company boasts 3.5 million customer accounts and plans to increase that number as it continues to grow.
For the immediate future, Krasnik is working to identify and pull in as many data points from the Perpay platform as possible, enabling the company to make strong, data-driven decisions, from how its customers are using and growing with its products to which features and products it will make next. For her, there’s joy in making sense of it all.
“It’s always better to have too much data than not enough,” she said.
One of the current challenges data engineers face across the industry is the fragmentation of data analytics tools. There’s a tool for every individual task, but nothing that covers multiple use cases. Krasnik is constantly evaluating which tools to leverage as she designs an analytics space with the capacity and versatility to grow with Perpay.
“For me, design is the most interesting part,” she said. “This is why I got into data engineering. I love looking under the hood, asking, ‘How does this work?’ I like getting to the very bottom of something; getting in on the ground floor. Now that I’m down here, I think, ‘How can I build this back up?’”
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