Author Archives: Daphne Karpel

One engineer’s tips for getting into Google

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today we spoke with Akash Mukherjee, a Security Engineer at our Mountain View office, about what makes his work challenging and exciting.

What do you do at Google?

I’m a Security Engineer on the Chrome Browser Core Infrastructure team. My team makes sure that the infrastructure used to build and ship Chrome to billions of users is secure. We build tools to make it easy for secure development practice across Chrome. One cool part of this work is that we not only support Google’s internal developer community but also open source contributors.

What’s a typical workday like for you? 

Most of my day involves designing and building out tools, so a lot of writing code and design docs. I’d say I spend 15% of my time syncing with colleagues on updates for ongoing projects. I’m fortunate to have multiple projects to work on — this helps me feel constantly challenged and motivated to work.

I feel like I have a great balance between collaborating and working independently. 

What made you decide to apply to Google?

Google had always been at the back of my mind, but I was intimidated by the interview process and held off applying for a while. Still, I’d heard good stories about the work-life balance at Google from friends. I was actually getting ready to apply right when a recruiter reached out to me! It felt like a natural match not only in terms of technical skills, but also culturally.

How did you land in your current role?

Before joining Google, I was a security engineer at another company, where I was doing more automation work. Although it was exciting, I always felt something was missing. Joining Google I realized how much I value constant innovation and building new systems and tools. One of the coolest things about building new things is that it requires you to understand the vast existing infrastructure. It’s challenging, exciting work.

What inspires you to come in (or log in) every day? 

It’s fascinating to see how Google’s objective of building for everyone breaks down to the individual level. One of the benefits of working at Google is that the work we do impacts more than a billion people’s lives. That motivates me. It would be unfair not to also mention all the amazing people I work with on a daily basis — my colleagues are a crucial part of the work I do.

A golden retriever puppy lays on the trunk of a car while wearing a Noogler hat.

Besides work, I play soccer and love to explore driving around. I also have the cutest golden retriever and outside work, that’s where I spend most of my time.

How did you prepare for the interview?

Google’s interview process really tests your fundamental knowledge. Work on strengthening those building blocks and answer questions with technical details. This is a good starting point that I have used. If you look at the questions, you’ll see how fundamentals are important. 


Any tips for aspiring Googlers?

Believe in yourself, especially during tough times and failures. Anyone out there reading this, just get past the fear of failure and start learning from it. Failures teach us much more than success.

How Vicky Fernandez found her passion for leading teams

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.


Today’s post is all about Vicky Fernandez, who shares how she went from one of the very first employees at our office in Buenos Aires to a leader who manages multiple teams.


What’s your role at Google? 

I work within Google’s ad sales business, where I manage the analysis, insights and optimization team for Spanish-speaking Latin America’s largest customers. The team brings together industry experts with specialists on performance, data and measurement solutions. I get to work with very talented people from all across the continent, taking best practices from one market to the other so that our clients thrive.


What does your typical workday look like right now? 

As a manager, I spend a lot of time meeting with my team, as well as collaborating with other project leaders. When meeting one-on-one with my direct reports, we speak about their current challenges and how I can help them. We also follow up on their objectives, projects, careers and check in on their well-being. 


Why did you decide to apply to work at Google? 

I was working for a TV company and looking for a change. I had heard that Google was opening offices in Buenos Aires (this was 15 years ago), so I decided to send them my resume. I knew nothing about digital marketing, so when they called me for interviews, I locked myself at home for a whole weekend and studied. Still,  I was not very confident after my interviews, but I was happy to participate in the process because I met really nice people and had a good time. 


Surprisingly, they called me back to join Google. I feel very proud to be part of this company, and I also feel proud to be part of our customer´s teams. At Google you belong to not only this company, but also thousands of companies that trust us to grow their businesses.


How did the application and interview process go for you?

After sending my resume, I got a phone call with a recruiter and then four on-site interviews, all together the same day. At that time (15 years ago) Google had no offices in Buenos Aires yet, so many people from the U.S. and Mexico came for a week to do interviews in a temporary office they rented. I had no idea who they were, but they were all very nice and approachable. I´m glad I didn't know how important they were because I think I would have been a lot more nervous. 


How would you describe your path to your current role at Google? 

I started at Google supporting small businesses in Spanish-speaking Latin America. After a year or so I moved to support bigger companies in Mexico. (I did this remotely from Argentina, and I used to travel to Mexico a few times a year.)


Then I got the chance to take my first formal leadership role, leading a team dedicated to helping small businesses that use Google Ads solve technical, billing and optimization issues. I loved being a manager and decided that it was my path. After a couple of years growing that team, I moved to a new role to build a different team for big customers. After gaining experience growing the team and improving service levels and efficiency, I recently got the opportunity to manage these three teams together as one team. I feel really excited about it!


Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

Think about the experiences that you would like to share during the interviews related to leadership, teamwork and process improvements. When questions come up, you can share those experiences. If you have success stories to show, try to have some numbers in mind (like growth on sales, efficiency gains, cost reduction, etc.)


What's one thing you wish you could go back and tell yourself before applying? 

Googlers are all very nice! You will have a great time, so focus on enjoying the interviews.


How Joy Jackson prepared for her Google interview

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Joy Jackson, a data center technician on the global server operations team, who shares how she went from studying to be a graphic designer to discovering a passion for IT and joining the Google data center team.

What’s your role at Google?

I am currently a data center technician on the Global Server Operations team, leading local projects as well as working with our team to deploy and maintain Google's advanced data center servers and network infrastructure. What I love most about my role is working with a diverse team and seeing how passionate each of us is to make sure that our network is up and running, ensuring users have the best and fastest experience possible.

What does your typical day look like right now?

A typical work day for me right now ranges from many different duties like physical deployments of the data center, maintaining servers and networking infrastructure and working closely with various partner teams to ensure our goals, missions and projects are successfully delivered.

Tell us about yourself?

I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and after graduating high school I left Charleston and went to The Art Institute of Charlotte, where I received my associate’s degree in graphic design. When I am not working, I like to spend my time on graphic projects and photography. Some of my hobbies outside of designing and photos are hiking, doing yoga and most importantly, traveling. I love to meet new people, explore new areas and learn about different cuisines and cultures. 

Can you tell us about your decision to apply to work at Google?

I was interested in Google because of how innovative the company is. I had never applied before and was intimidated because of how huge the company is. When I applied and heard back about interviews, I was extremely nervous because I did not think I would be a good fit due to being at the very early stages of my career.

Joy stands in front of a Google logo across a piece of wood cut in the shape of Virginia.

Joy works at one of Google’s Virginia data centers.

How would you describe your path to your current role at Google?

When I went off to college, I thought my heart was set on becoming a graphic designer and opening my own agency. But as I progressed in life and my career, I found myself more interested in working in IT. I worked hard to transition from what I thought I wanted to do to where I am now. And I am happy I did – I love the work we do. I have had opportunities to work in different data center locations and in different roles, just by learning new skills and opening myself up to reach out to other site locations and their teams.

What inspires you to come in every day?

I am inspired each day to come into work because of the millions of lives we are able to touch. It's just a great feeling knowing that, by the work we are doing, we are able to help so many people stay connected with friends and loved ones.

How did the recruitment process go for you?

I was referred to apply, and I was nervous about not being the right fit. But after my phone interview, I decided to stay open-minded about the process. Because I knew I could do the job and it was a perfect fit.

What's one thing you wish you could go back and tell yourself before applying? I wish I could go back to the moment before I applied and tell myself that it is okay to ask questions! I was so nervous and scared to ask any questions.

What resources did you find most helpful when preparing for the interview?

One of the resources I used to prepare for my interviews were sites like LinkedIn Learning, taking the time to do online courses and training classes and watching tutorials.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

Never doubt your abilities to achieve anything you put your mind to. With education, drive and determination, you can reach your goals.


Graphic with a photo of Joy wearing an Android t-shirt on the right, and on the left, text that reads: “My Path to Google, Data Center Technician.”
10:25

The many hats of a technical solutions engineer

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s story is all about Sanjay Khubchandani, a technical solutions engineer based out of our Bangalore office. Find out how participating in coding competitions led him to becoming a technical solutions engineer at Google.

What do you do at Google?

I am a technical solutions engineer in Google Cloud based in Bangalore. We focus on solving advanced technical problems our customers face. But that’s not all we do. A technical solutions engineer (TSE) wears many hats, such as making sure customers can solve the issues they're facing as effortlessly as possible. The most exciting part of being a TSE is that we get to collaborate with many teams working in many different areas.

What’s your typical workday like?

I joined Google remotely, as everyone was working from home. Typically my day involves working on solving problems, working on my projects, talking to customers and so much more. I don’t always code, though I sometimes do. If I were to define my role in three words, it would be “troubleshooting at scale.”

What made you apply to Google?

I had never applied before because every time I was going to, I got scared and thought I would never get selected. I believe that fear didn’t allow me to apply. I still remember the journey from when I applied on the Google Careers portal, to today when I am actually contributing here. Looking back to where I was seven or eight months ago, I got to learn, grow and contribute so much in such a short span of time that I believe there is no other place than Google where you can do this.

How did you get to your current role?

Before joining Google, I was a student who used to participate in a lot of coding competitions organised by various colleges or universities. That’s what made me realize that I enjoy solving problems. It was not about getting to code, it was always about getting the problem statement and finding a way to solve it. 


I applied for a completely different role, but a recruiter from Google looked at my resume, reached out to me and told me about the technical solutions engineer role. When I read the role description, I knew it was perfect for me.

What inspires you to log in every day?

Our customers, always. I wake up with a smile on my face and coffee in my hand thinking I will get something to solve which I have never seen before — and I always do!

What was the interview process like for you?

When I was being interviewed for the TSE role, the world was not going through a pandemic and I was still in my last semester of college. I got to see the Google Bangalore office, and meet some amazing people. I still remember the day I got a call from my recruiter saying “Congratulations, Sanjay.” I immediately called my parents and let them know. It was so awesome to see them share my excitement.

What resources did you use to prepare for the interview?

Oh it was a great journey, to be honest. Google Search helped me prepare for my role at Google as a whole. Being a TSE is not all coding. I used a lot of resources to learn about topics like OS management, web technologies and  networking. For example, I used to watch YouTube videos to explore the depths of how an operating system actually works. I took my time to understand the concepts and not just go through what they mean. I believe if you understand something really well, you will never forget it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring Googlers?

Your passion is what matters, if you are passionate about something and you find the role which matches your skills, interest and experience — apply!

Onboarding at Google while working remotely

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Asaf Paz, an Agency Lead on the Google Customer Solutions team, who shares what it was like to join Google while working remotely from a different country than the office he would relocate to.

What’s your role at Google?

I manage a team of very talented agency development managers. They help some of the biggest and most advanced agencies in the UK grow the businesses that they’re working with through Google Ads. 

What inspires you to come in (virtually) every day?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most businesses needed to completely change their strategy to survive. Knowing that my team and I are helping thousands of businesses make this digital transformation successfully makes me feel very proud.

In addition to that, I always have a sense of anticipation for all the new things I’ll learn today — whether it's from my employees, my colleagues, managers — or the endless data and training that Google offers.  

Can you tell us about your decision to apply to work at Google? 

I established a digital marketing agency in 2005, ran it for 11 years and sold it to establish a software-as-a-service-based startup. After four years, although my startup was profitable and growing, I didn’t see it turning into the billion-dollar company I aspired to create — so I  decided to sell it. 

Around the same time, I finished my Executive MBA and started thinking about my next step. I knew I wanted to work with talented people and on projects that would have a large-scale impact.

I called many friends and colleagues to get their thoughts. A former employee of mine who now works at Google told me about a role that matched what I was looking for. The more I learned about the role and the team, the more I fell in love with it and decided to apply.


Asaf wearing a Noogler hat while sitting in front of a computer. Around him are books, sticky notes on a wall, a mug, a plant and a painting.

Asaf at his home workspace.

How did the recruitment process go for you? 

I began the process in January 2020, just before the pandemic affected Europe, and I had the opportunity to fly to the Dublin office in February for an interview. But then I went back to a lockdown when I came back to Tel-Aviv, and continued the rest of the process remotely.

The process was very transparent and structured. But what amazed me most about it is how human it was. Andy, my recruiter, was there with me from the first call until way after the contract was signed. In fact Andy is still in contact with me, sending me personal emails and organizing a monthly call.

How have you forged new contacts and relationships while working remotely?

I was surprised by the depth of the connections I’ve established with my team and other Googlers so far. Maybe it’s the fact that we see each other's houses and families on the first call that makes us open up and talk about personal things pretty quickly. 

Google has brilliant people that are humble and fun to work with. They go above and beyond to help another Googler. What I like most about the people here is that they measure everything, learn quickly and perform better the next time.

Asaf wears a santa hat and holds up a drink to toast with teammates virtually on a computer

Since joining Google, his team has had a pizza workshop with a Michelin-starred chef, a bartender training, a gingerbread house competition and a virtual science camp for kids.

What advice would you give to someone considering the move to Google at the current time?

There are advantages to starting work remotely. I’m an office person, and I’m really looking forward to starting working with my team in the office. That said, since this new job involves relocation, it’s been easier to focus on onboarding without also needing to also figure out things like moving the family to a new country, plus adjusting to a new school and language for the kids.

Additionally, all meetings being virtual helps me learn faster by attending more meetings as a guest and seeing everything in action. 

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

The first one is to apply, I talked to so many people that told me that their dream is to join a company like Google — but when I asked them what roles they applied for, they said they actually didn’t. So it might seem obvious but my first tip is to apply.

Then, my next tip would be to treat the process with respect, prepare for the different stages, and be curious by asking as many questions as you can.


An autistic Googler and his manager thrive through communication

To mark World Autism Awareness Day, we sat down with Tim Goldstein, who is autistic, and his prior manager, Patricia Li, to hear how they created an inclusive experience and career opportunities for Tim. They explained how they worked together on communication, collaboration and mutual understanding to build a strong and successful working relationship.   

What do you do at Google?

Tim: When I worked on Patricia’s team I provided professional services consulting and education for the Looker product of Google Cloud. Thanks to her help I am now in Cloud Global Training, specializing in Looker.

Patricia: I’m a practice manager in Google Cloud’s Professional Services organization (specializing in Looker). I support my team in tackling client challenges.

What was that first conversation disclosing your workplace needs with Patricia, your manager, like?

Tim:For me it was not anything out of the ordinary. Because of my work as an advocate for autism and neurodiversity, I am very public. To better control my disclosure, I regularly tell people up front.

When I told Patricia I was autistic, I also sent her a manager tip sheet that I designed for Vanderbilt University’s Frist Center for Autism and Innovation, which is specifically focused on disclosing your neurodistinction and ways to self-advocate with your manager. It gives your manager concrete ways to best work with anyone who is neurodistinct.

A question for both of you: How would you describe the first few months of your working relationship?

Tim: As is normal for me, I asked lots of questions, especially about details. Detail-up is the way many of us who are autistic process information, not concept-down. Because Patricia didn’t yet understand the scope of what being autistic can be, my questions often came across as pushback. 

At the same time, I was struggling to understand what exactly was being asked of me because it was being presented from a higher level. Our relationship deteriorated, despite our best efforts. Even though we were being open and communicating in our individual ways, we were ineffective.

Patricia:The first few months were an uphill journey. Even with the best of intentions, there were many misunderstandings, resulting in frustration on both sides. We hit a low point that forced an honest conversation around whether the role was a good fit. That was a turning point, as it helped me understand how to better support Tim. The conversations also demonstrated positive intent from both sides and helped us re-establish trust.

How did you improve communication?

Patricia: We worked out systems of communication that worked for us: keywords that told us to stop and go back to clarify, tags that meant “I’m just venting” versus “I need help,” knowing that sometimes more context is needed over a call rather than a chat ping.  Ultimately it comes back to communicating, assuming positive intent and establishing trust.

It also helped me understand what Tim needed to be successful, and how to lean into his strengths to give him the opportunity to lead and excel.  Tim is fantastic at presenting, and has a real passion for teaching and mentoring, lighting up when he is able to make something click for someone.  When I saw the opening on the Cloud Global Training Team, I knew it would be the perfect fit for him.  

How has this experience enhanced your perspective as a manager?

Patricia: Everything I learned while working with Tim is applicable in my role as a manager to any team member. This experience has enhanced my awareness that we each come from different perspectives, informed by different contexts and experiences.

Tim, do you have any tips you’d like to share with neurodiverse employees and aspiring Googlers on the spectrum?

Tim: The most important step is to be willing to be open about your neurodistinction. This is good for the individual as there is awareness before some issue may come up. This can help managers to recognise the true challenge instead of incorrectly assuming it is an attitude issue.

When you do disclose to your manager, don’t just wing it. Have a plan and ideally resources you can provide to help the manager better understand you and your neurodistinction.

Beyond your manager relationship, how has Google continued to create an inclusive workplace for Googlers with disabilities? 

Tim: Google has been very open and supportive of presentations and training opportunities on neurodiversity and autism. Much of this has been at the grass roots level with interest and support from DEI, HR, individual teams, and managers.

An autistic Googler and his manager thrive through communication

To mark World Autism Awareness Day, we sat down with Tim Goldstein, who is autistic, and his prior manager, Patricia Li, to hear how they created an inclusive experience and career opportunities for Tim. They explained how they worked together on communication, collaboration and mutual understanding to build a strong and successful working relationship.   

What do you do at Google?

Tim: When I worked on Patricia’s team I provided professional services consulting and education for the Looker product of Google Cloud. Thanks to her help I am now in Cloud Global Training, specializing in Looker.

Patricia: I’m a practice manager in Google Cloud’s Professional Services organization (specializing in Looker). I support my team in tackling client challenges.

What was that first conversation disclosing your workplace needs with Patricia, your manager, like?

Tim:For me it was not anything out of the ordinary. Because of my work as an advocate for autism and neurodiversity, I am very public. To better control my disclosure, I regularly tell people up front.

When I told Patricia I was autistic, I also sent her a manager tip sheet that I designed for Vanderbilt University’s Frist Center for Autism and Innovation, which is specifically focused on disclosing your neurodistinction and ways to self-advocate with your manager. It gives your manager concrete ways to best work with anyone who is neurodistinct.

A question for both of you: How would you describe the first few months of your working relationship?

Tim: As is normal for me, I asked lots of questions, especially about details. Detail-up is the way many of us who are autistic process information, not concept-down. Because Patricia didn’t yet understand the scope of what being autistic can be, my questions often came across as pushback. 

At the same time, I was struggling to understand what exactly was being asked of me because it was being presented from a higher level. Our relationship deteriorated, despite our best efforts. Even though we were being open and communicating in our individual ways, we were ineffective.

Patricia:The first few months were an uphill journey. Even with the best of intentions, there were many misunderstandings, resulting in frustration on both sides. We hit a low point that forced an honest conversation around whether the role was a good fit. That was a turning point, as it helped me understand how to better support Tim. The conversations also demonstrated positive intent from both sides and helped us re-establish trust.

How did you improve communication?

Patricia: We worked out systems of communication that worked for us: keywords that told us to stop and go back to clarify, tags that meant “I’m just venting” versus “I need help,” knowing that sometimes more context is needed over a call rather than a chat ping.  Ultimately it comes back to communicating, assuming positive intent and establishing trust.

It also helped me understand what Tim needed to be successful, and how to lean into his strengths to give him the opportunity to lead and excel.  Tim is fantastic at presenting, and has a real passion for teaching and mentoring, lighting up when he is able to make something click for someone.  When I saw the opening on the Cloud Global Training Team, I knew it would be the perfect fit for him.  

How has this experience enhanced your perspective as a manager?

Patricia: Everything I learned while working with Tim is applicable in my role as a manager to any team member. This experience has enhanced my awareness that we each come from different perspectives, informed by different contexts and experiences.

Tim, do you have any tips you’d like to share with neurodiverse employees and aspiring Googlers on the spectrum?

Tim: The most important step is to be willing to be open about your neurodistinction. This is good for the individual as there is awareness before some issue may come up. This can help managers to recognise the true challenge instead of incorrectly assuming it is an attitude issue.

When you do disclose to your manager, don’t just wing it. Have a plan and ideally resources you can provide to help the manager better understand you and your neurodistinction.

Beyond your manager relationship, how has Google continued to create an inclusive workplace for Googlers with disabilities? 

Tim: Google has been very open and supportive of presentations and training opportunities on neurodiversity and autism. Much of this has been at the grass roots level with interest and support from DEI, HR, individual teams, and managers.

Teaching and coding led one Googler to tech writing

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Garrett Holthaus, a tech writer who taps into his background in both computer science and teaching.

What are you working on right now at Google?

Currently, I am working on two projects in the Google Cloud Programs organization. One is writing a user guide for a new internal software tool that will help streamline cross-team planning and interaction. The other is creating an internal training curriculum for program managers. It’s been amazing to work on these two different types of educational content, written documentation and instructor-led classes, at Google’s scale.

What inspires you to come in (or log on) every day?

The technical writing community at Google is amazingly supportive. There are ongoing discussions about everything from style to formatting to engaging with subject matter experts. If you have a question, you can be assured of a helpful answer. (Sometimes two or three answers!) Within a month of joining, I had found a mentor and was getting advice on how to navigate my role.

How did you first get interested in technology?

From an early age, I have been interested in science and technology. My parents set me on a path to computer science when they bought an early home computer — I typed in game programs from magazines and was amazed at the possibilities for different applications. My dad had a basement workshop where I helped out with different projects and took on some of my own in electronics, woodworking and mechanical restoration.

My passion for electronics and hardware led me to major in electrical engineering, where I became fascinated with computer architecture. I started out in microprocessor validation, writing assembly code and tools to exercise various parts of a CPU. As a validator, I learned to put on my “evil” hat and try to break the hardware in ways the designer hadn’t anticipated. 

And how did you then get interested in teaching?

I volunteered as a tutor in college and participated in various educational outreach opportunities during my career. One program that made a big impression was Science is Elementary, in which I visited a local elementary school with a small group of my coworkers once a month to teach a science lesson. This and other experiences led me to teaching high school physics, before later rejoining the tech industry.

Garrett standing in front of a modified Boeing 747SP airplane  with the words “Sofia Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy” along with an American and German flag.

Garrett during a summer internship as a teacher working for NASA. He’s standing in front of a Boeing 747SP airplane that was modified with a large sliding door on the rear of the fuselage that can open in flight to reveal an infrared telescope.

What made you decide to apply to Google?

I got an opportunity to write a technical article about something old and familiar — hardware! I enjoyed the experience and almost couldn’t believe I got paid for the work, which was a good sign that I was on to something. I spoke to a friend at Google who was in a technical writing role and realized that as a teacher, writing had been a central part of my job — both doing my own writing and evaluating my students’ writing. Because technical writers create content that is designed to help users, the role was a way to combine my two passions of technology and education.

How did the application and interview process go for you?

I had done many interviews before and had some idea of what to expect, but I was impressed that Google provided interview preparation resources geared towards candidates who might have little or no interview experience. Throughout the entire process, the recruiters and interviewers who worked with me were friendly, encouraging and accommodating.

Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role? 

One of the most powerful interview techniques I learned was the concept of a PSR: Problem, Solution, Result. This involves thinking of problems you have encountered in your previous jobs, your education or your life. How did you solve the problem? Having my PSRs ready helped my confidence during the interview, and I was surprised at how often the opportunity arose to bring one out.

Garrett wearing a Noogler hat. In the background are other people sitting in chairs and a person standing on a stage holding the microphone.

Garrett at Noogler (new Googler) orientation.

How Su Mei Teh moved from financial services to Google

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Su Mei Teh, the Asia Pacific Head of the Payments Product Operations team, based in Singapore. Su Mei shares how she moved from financial services to tech, and how the critical thinking and business management skills she honed applied to multiple roles at Google

What does your typical work day look like right now?

It’s usually full of meetings due to the collaboration between teams: They’re based across 12 offices in 8 timezones! I generally start the day with video conference meetings with colleagues in California and end the day meeting with colleagues in Europe. In between, I carve out time for focused work, such as writing a strategy document or reviewing a financial model. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Outside of Google, I spend time with my family and volunteer with a variety of causes. I’m a founding member of the Singapore chapter of the Asian Google Network, an employee resource group that supports professional and personal development for the multicultural Asian community in Google. I also re-discovered my joy of singing by joining the Musicians @Google Singapore group.

How did you find the transition from financial services to Google?

When I got the offer to join the Google Ads team, I was in disbelief. Up to that point, I thought that my chances were slim as I had no prior digital ads experience and felt branded as a financial services professional. Thankfully, the critical thinking and business management skills that I had acquired could be applied in Google as well. 

You don’t need to have a computer science or engineering background to be in Google. Google is such a diverse company with many products and services, which require many functions to support its operations and growth. Sales, project management, financial controlling, strategy, operations, legal, etc. All these are roles we have in Google that don’t require prior tech experience! 

What has your experience been with internal mobility (moving to different teams) within Google?

My first role at Google was strategy and operations management on the Google Ads team. After a few years I wanted to get closer to the heart of product development, so I moved to payment product operations. I also wanted to satisfy some of my entrepreneurial appetite in a team that was essentially a start-up within Google. Lastly, payments and fintech (financial technology) were rapidly growing sectors. It was, and still is, an exciting time to be in that space. 

What inspires you to come in (or log on) every day?

I’ve been working on a very fun (though intense) project -- the relaunch of Google Pay in Singapore. We completely reimagined the Google Pay app to be more immersive and rewarding for our users. I learned to work with a lot of ambiguity, and picked up some new know-how in the process. It’s been heartening to receive compliments from friends at how much they love Google Pay.

What's one thing you wish you could go back and tell yourself before applying?

I wish I had applied to Google earlier. I was filled with skepticism about my chances given I assumed my financial services experience wouldn’t be relevant. Speaking to people in Google really helped me realise that there were a large variety of roles, many of which made use of the skills I built elsewhere. 

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

As with any job, there is an element of timing, so monitor Google’s career site and program alerts for roles you are interested in. While you wait for the right opportunity, build up your knowledge and work on better articulating the value and impact you can make so that you can avoid last-minute cramming when an interview opportunity comes along!

The (digital) road from competitive programming to Google SRE

Welcome to the latest edition of “My Path to Google,” where we talk to Googlers, interns and alumni about how they got to Google, what their roles are like and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Mohamed Yosri Ahmed, a Site Reliability Engineer at our Munich office. Yosri’s passion for coding competitions led him to Google -- and now he supports young programmers as a mentor in Google’s own series of coding competitions!

So first off, what is “competitive programming” and what are the competitions like?

In competitive programming, participants put their skills to the test as they work their way through a series of algorithmic puzzles. Competitions are timed, and oftentimes you’re working together with a group of teammates in order to solve difficult puzzles together. Competitive programming is really fun and challenges those who practice it to grow technically and personally.

 How did you first get involved with competitive programming?

 I was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. I got my computer science bachelor’s degree from Ain Shams University, which is also when my journey with competitive programming (CP) began. Since then I’ve developed a passion for problem solving and finding solutions to complex challenges and riddles.

Yosri at the International Olympiad of Informatics 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Yosri looks over an arena where participants in yellow and orange shirts sit at tables and work at laptops.

Yosri at the International Olympiad of Informatics 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

What’s your role at Google?

 I am a Site Reliability Engineer at the Production Productivity Engineering team. We focus on helping Google rapidly launch reliable services through applying best practices. We get to engage with many teams working in many different areas; this is challenging yet super exciting.

I also help run the Google's Coding Competitions such as Code Jam and Kick Start.

What inspires you to log in every day?

At Google there are always new learning opportunities and the possibilities to grow are endless. Google really cares about its employees’ growth and happiness at work.

Also the impact of my team’s work and the products we build, that affects so many people's lives in many ways, makes me feel grateful and inspired to do more.

How did the recruitment process go for you?

After graduating from college, I got contacted by a Google recruiter following my performance in Code Jam that year. Relocation at that point was not easy for me so we had to stop the process. A couple of months later, I got contacted again by another Google recruiter to explore opportunities. By then, things were clear for me and we decided to move forward and start the interview process. I actually flew from the International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals in Portugal to do my onsite interviews in France.

How did you join the Site Reliability Engineering team at Google?

After passing the interviews, I proceeded to the next step: software engineer team matching. My recruiter also asked me about my interest in Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) which I didn’t know much about at the time. A Googler SRE friend suggested I check out one of the free online books Google SREs wrote to share their best practices.

Yosri and three other new Googlers stand in front of a Google sign.

Yosri and three other new Googlers at Noogler Orientation in Zürich.

How did coding competitions prepare you for SRE at Google?

Competitive programming can help participants develop lots of skills that are useful for SRE, like dealing with ambiguity and being able to troubleshoot abstract ideas without necessarily being the expert. 

CP trains us to focus on targets and how to achieve them. The short time limits teaches us to appreciate every moment and to efficiently utilize the resources we have.

Another aspect of similarity is troubleshooting and testing at scale. Both are key skills and responsibilities for SRE in order to be confident about a system and to know why it may or may not work. With tight time constraints to solve different problems and penalties on wrong attempts, CPers develop their testing and troubleshooting skills.

Both CP communities and SRE thrive on communication and collaboration. SREs have huge diversity in their responsibilities and how they approach them. Cross team collaboration during incidents for a common mitigation goal is similar to a CP style where 3 teammates are trying to solve the same problem on a single PC. In this style, coordination of efforts is essential. 

In CP, team members may have different strengths in different algorithmic and data structures topics and they join their skills to solve more complex problems. Along the way, we learn to make use of our different skill sets in order to succeed together. 

Any other tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?

The path to success is not unique. These paths may cross but they may never be the same for everyone. We should identify our skills and put them into practice to sharpen them. We should always keep on learning and aiming for a better future.