Abnormal Engineering Spotlight

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BG Eng Nirmal Balachundhar

Nirmal Balachundhar

Software Engineer

“The team’s emphasis on mentorship, learning, and personal growth stood out.”

What made you want to join Abnormal?

I joined as a new grad because I thought Abnormal offered the perfect environment to learn as much as I could, as fast as I could. Since joining, I’ve been able to work on applied ML systems with a significant amount of responsibility, shore up my technical skills, learn from extremely talented people, and prevent cybercrime. I also wanted the ability to wear multiple hats at a high-growth startup and understand how all the pieces fit together, end-to-end. It’s an incredible opportunity to get to develop those skill sets from people who are always willing to help out.

What’s abnormal about Abnormal?

The team’s emphasis on mentorship, learning, and personal growth stood out to me almost immediately after joining. The people at Abnormal are ready to help you through almost any problem at any time of day and take a vested interest in your growth. Before I worked a full time job, I never understood the importance of having a core values system and thought it was just another gimmick, but I’ve seen everyone at Abnormal act on VOICE, our internal values acronym, countless times and it’s personally moved mountains in the way that I think about work, ownership, and company culture.

Tell us about your role and the Abnormal projects that most excite you.

I’m a software engineer on the Account Takeover team. Our team specializes in detecting suspicious activity in user accounts, whether it’s due to suspicious sign-ins or an attacker demonstrating abnormal behavior within the account. I build tools and products across our infrastructure and detection stack to support scaling our product to millions of more mailboxes while ensuring that our detection stays world-class. I really enjoy the real-time adversarial nature of the space, since the attack landscape is constantly changing. For instance, I had to understand how an attacker used a sequence of moves to break into an account and I got to immediately ship out system improvements to deter such attacks in the future.

What do you most enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy playing basketball, working out, listening to music and podcasts, and hanging out with friends in my spare time. As someone who is generally pretty curious about the world, I try to read about new technologies and trends whenever I can. I’m also an avid Boston sports fan so I try to catch Celtics and Patriots games throughout the course of the year.

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Fang Shuo Deng

Software Engineer

Abnormal is abnormally engaging. It manages to be intense without being toxic. When I was looking for my next role, I was ready to put a lot of myself into the work that I did. I wanted to find a team that could harness that intensity.”

What made you want to join Abnormal?

My opinion is there were some skills that were so generalizable and useful that they were tools that could be repeatedly applied to a variety of different domains and problem spaces. For example, the ability to build a web app over a persistent database was a tool that was wielded to build a variety of companies starting in the early 2000s, and we saw a similar thing but with mobile apps in the 2010s. My thesis is that applied ML is that tool for the 2020s, given the huge reservoirs of data far outstripping human attention. I saw an abnormal opportunity to learn the ins and outs of what it meant to apply ML to a business problem at the company. This was the main reason I joined Abnormal.

There were a host of other reasons, as well, including: outsized growth opportunities, senior technical folks that I saw myself learning from, and the idea that rising tides lift all boats.

What’s abnormal about Abnormal?

Abnormal is abnormally engaging. Abnormal manages to be intense without being toxic. When I was looking for my next role, I was ready to put a lot of myself into the work that I did. I wanted to find a team that could harness that intensity. Abnormal provided that in a high-velocity hyper-growth environment, but there was never any expectation to pull ridiculous hours or work beyond what was required of you. I’ve also really enjoyed working with the people I’ve met at Abnormal. People are incredibly capable yet also chill and down-to-earth.

Tell us about your role and the Abnormal projects that most excite you.

My team is pioneering how Abnormal is creating and monitoring signals ingested by our ML models. I think that is a really interesting problem because it resides at the intersection of ML and systems, which I really enjoy.

What do you most enjoy doing in your free time?

I like to hang out with friends, work out, read, and play basketball. More generally, I like trying out new things and learning, so a significant part of my free time is spent exploring something new or tinkering with stuff. For instance, most recently, I’ve been thinking about how to make an intuitive UI for Spotify playlists, as I have a lot of them.

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Sharon Lin

Software Engineer

"I feel like I'm part of a bigger mission, solving problems that make a real impact in the world."

What made you want to join Abnormal?

I joined Abnormal out of college, so it was a rare opportunity for me to work on real-world ML systems as a new grad. Since onboarding, I've had the chance to apply my skills in ML engineering and grow my technical and leadership abilities as a software engineer. The people are really what makes Abnormal special. I'm so grateful for such supportive mentors and teammates, and to be able to feel like I'm part of a bigger mission, solving problems that make a real impact in the world.

What’s abnormal about Abnormal?

It's interesting that for a security company, most of our engineers actually come from a non-security-focused background. A lot of the time, this actually contributes to the strength of our team: the combined experience ends up allowing us to use techniques from different domains, helping us build a better and more robust system.

Tell us about your role and the Abnormal projects that most excite you.

I'm a software engineer on the Message Detection team, working on building data pipelines, training models, and attack featurization for our detection engine. It's so cool to be at the cutting-edge of ML threat intelligence. For instance, one project I've been working on is improving our malware detectors—investigating trends from malicious actors, strategizing features to extract from inbound messages, and experimenting with ways to improve accuracy in our automated malware analysis. It's really exciting to be working on completely new problems in this space, and to have first-hand experience with handling new kinds of attacks.

What do you most enjoy doing in your free time?

I recently got into climbing, so I've been spending a lot of time at Brooklyn Boulders after work. I also like to hike, travel, cook, and read. There's so many great venues in New York City where you can listen to local writers give readings of their work, so I've been trying to bring my friends along whenever I go!

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Runn Vermel

Senior Software Engineer

"At Abnormal, I can come in, prove myself and then grow into a leadership position over time."

What made you want to join Abnormal?
The option to move to remote work during the pandemic catalyzed my job search, and the three things that drew me into Abnormal were, in no particular order: the potential for professional growth--at a scaling company, I can come in, prove myself and then grow into a leadership position over time; the cybersecurity industry is a really hot market right now; and the people.

What’s abnormal about Abnormal?
Everyone has been amazingly nice and you can tell they really believe in the product. I find that when people work with a product they love, the product sells itself.

During my interview process, I was invited to a Town Hall meeting. There was just one incredible update after another: seeing a POV and within an hour showing the client that the product caught many different phishing attempts before the client even signed up for the product! I also went and looked at Glassdoor reviews and it was one raving review after another, and it was clear that people loved working at Abnormal.

After I accepted my offer, I got an email from everyone on my team, even from people who I hadn't met yet, saying how excited they were to have me join. I even got an email from the CEO saying welcome, too. It was a personal email from him, not something that a robot typed up!

Tell us about your role and the Abnormal projects that most excite you.
Having spent five years at a big company, like Apple, I came in and instantly noticed that Abnormal is going through a lot of growth. I find this exciting because that means there's a lot that I can contribute as this transition is happening. For example, I'm looking forward to helping build out a component library for current and future products.

What do you most enjoy doing in your free time?
I'm the dad of an eight year-old girl, and a five-year-old boy, so they keep me pretty busy. I'm also a sourdough baker and have been for the past few years. So, when the pandemic hit, I said, "hello world, welcome to my obsession." I usually bake two-to-four loaves a week.


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John Rak

Software Engineer

“Everyone at Abnormal displays a genuine interest in helping both you and the company succeed and have fun, while producing a level of quality in their own work that inspires everyone around them to do the same.”

What made you want to join Abnormal?

My biggest draws that influenced my decision to join were the people at Abnormal and the engineering challenge that the Abnormal platform presented. Everyone at Abnormal displays a genuine interest in helping both you and the company succeed and have fun, while producing a level of quality in their own work that inspires everyone around them to do the same. The ML-driven threat prevention system that Abnormal is building to prevent fraud and a variety of other attacks presents a unique engineering opportunity that is two-fold: real-time threat detection systems require a world-class ML platform to be effective, and they solve real problems that have significant impacts on people’s lives.

What’s abnormal about Abnormal?

The collective, bottom-up drive for excellence along with a shared-growth mindset throughout all levels of Abnormal motivates everyone to get incrementally better each and every day. This, combined with a palpable energy that resonates throughout the company, full top-down transparency from leadership, and a set of core company values that have held strong throughout the company’s rapid growth, create a unique and exciting workplace.

Tell us about your role and the Abnormal projects that most excite you.

I’m a software engineer working on the data and ML platform that the Abnormal detection systems run on. I’m really excited about the opportunity to work on scaling the ML platform to handle the growth we have seen and expect to continue in the coming years. The opportunity to scale an already world-class ML platform from one to 10 while maintaining the required level of excellence is a unique and inspiring challenge.

What do you enjoy doing during your free time?

I like to spend my free time doing anything that gives me the opportunity to get outside: running, cycling, skiing, mountain biking, surfing, hiking, rock climbing, and team sports. I also enjoy cooking, reading, and spending time with my dogs.


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Swee Tat Lim

Software Engineer

"Abnormal folks are abnormally customer-obsessed about delivering excellence through intellectual honesty."

What made you want to join Abnormal?

I'm excited about Abormal’s mission and purpose. Most of the companies I’ve worked with didn’t have the clarity of mission and purpose that Abnormal has. We are saving the world from bad email actors, and that’s a good mission to get behind.

What’s abnormal about Abnormal?

In the space of cyber security where fear, uncertainty and doubt is used to pitch sales, Abnormal folks are abnormally customer-obsessed about delivering excellence through intellectual honesty. This has clearly translated, and I am humbled by how much our customers see immediate value once they try our product.

Tell us about your role and the Abnormal projects that most excite you.

I'm scaling and supporting Abnormal Security’s rapidly expanding sales and marketing initiatives by building and using Abnormal’s data engineering pipelines and microservices.

Prior to Abnormal, I was leading the implementation of Kakfa- and Cassandra-based time series DBs at Singapore’s leading energy and banking entities, as well as architected event-driven microservices at fast growing startups.

What do you enjoy doing during your free time?

I love watching anime, reading light novels and Japanese manga, after spending quality time with the family. I jog and cycle regularly to keep fit.


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