Joining Google

I’m embarking on a new journey in my career and I’m incredibly excited for what’s to come. I will be joining the Google Product Management team, focused on Google Hire [1].

This is an exciting next step for me and one that I wouldn’t have considered even just a year ago. Google is a company that I’ve admired since my middle school years.

A Google fanboy

When I first discovered the internet, I started building a local web directory, similar to Yahoo!, which linked to great websites. That project didn’t go anywhere, I was a kid with lots of curiosity but no knowledge or resources on how to build a product. However, I was very keen on the idea of making the web more accessible to everyone. When I discovered Google Search, I was blown away. Over time I discovered Gmail, Google Maps, Google Earth, and Google Docs. These were all revolutionary in and of themselves. Today, I use 5 to 10 Google products every day, and I’m as much of a Google fan as I was in the early days.

When I told my parents that I’d go to work for Google my mom said: “It’s about time, you’ve always been making me use all those Google products.”

A bit about my journey

After getting an engineering degree from MIT in Chemical-Biological Engineering, I thought that my technical and analytical skills were quite polished. I pursued a consulting career to learn more about business.

My 3 years in consulting at Accenture helped me learn about enterprise clients, financial forecasting, planning, writing business cases, project management, and IT delivery. It was a great experience and I considered staying in consulting for my entire career. However, a part of me wanted to explore tech and startups. I moved to San Francisco in 2012 and, surrounded by folks in tech, decided to go for it when BloomReach knocked on my door and asked me to interview for a Product Engagement Management role.

A note I’d make about this time: while a consultant at Accenture, I considered working at Google. However, I wasn’t qualified for the jobs that I was interested in. I was either too junior or had no relevant experience. I never applied.

I joined BloomReach, a Silicon Valley-based tech startup, in 2013. My time at a startup has been an amazing learning experience. I dabbled in problems spanning customer success, sales & go to market, engineering, people & operations, and more. I got to shape my role and spend more time in the areas I was interested in. The learnings I had were based on real startup situations and market challenges. I can’t imagine a better way to have learned.

BloomReach also satiated my thirst for knowledge about product development. Deep passion for technology always fueled me and being able to learn about it while surrounded by brilliant engineers was a privilege. Being at a startup allowed me to transition into product management with no CS or MBA degrees, something that would have been much harder in a big company. [2]

I got a message from a Google recruiter about 1-2 years ago. At the time, I had hesitations joining a large company. I liked startups and wanted my next role to be at a company even smaller than BloomReach. I also had hesitations that my current PM experience and training was sufficient to pass the interviews at Google, a place known for still having a technical interview that tests you for knowledge on software engineering fundamentals if you want to join as a PM.

Over the last 4 years at BloomReach, I’ve had the fortune of working alongside some of the smartest individuals I’ve met. Some came from small startups, others from companies like Microsoft, eBay, Bain, Google, and more. Some had Computer Science backgrounds, others had MBAs, yet others had neither of those. Yet, they all had a ton to contribute to BloomReach as it has grown.

As I entertained career options after BloomReach, I focused on the people, company culture, and values. It was the same criteria that led me to BloomReach four years ago, which worked out extremely well for me. Why change those criteria when it worked so well? I wanted to be surrounded by a world-class product team with many individuals I could learn a lot from.  After speaking to many people at Google I decided to go for it, relaxing my prior requirement of my next role being at a small company.

Looking forward

Google has a world-class product and engineering organization. While I’m eager to work side-by-side with them, I’m aware of some of the challenges of moving to a large company. Initiatives at Google are often killed by management if they don’t show progress, you may end up working on a product or area that’s not your first choice, and the role may get more specialized or narrow than you originally wished for. I will keep this in mind as I navigate Google over the next few years.

On the flip side, I look forward to making the most of the opportunities to learn from people at the peak of their fields. I’m also eager to make a significant impact on a company that I’ve long admired.

[1] https://hire.google.com/
[2] https://omareduardo.com/2017/05/21/my-transition-into-product-management-from-a-non-technical-background/
[3] See more resources at https://omareduardo.com/2017/07/08/resources-when-transitioning-into-product-management/

New Year Reflections — Will you transform your life in this coming year?

New year, new beginnings – or so they say. “What will the new year bring?” we often ask. “Happy New Year!” we often exclaim. Are we taking the time to really celebrate and enjoy the holidays? Are we taking the time to reflect and take the proper steps to enjoy the new year?

Each day presents us with at least one opportunity to change the rest of our lives. So why do we place so much emphasis on celebrating the beginning of a new year? The reason is, I think, that a year is a time that is long enough for us to really transform our lives, but short enough so that we can still reflect on it and learn from all the experiences we have experienced.

In a day, you can adjust the direction in which your life goes. In a week, you can reach a new destination. In a month, you can make new friends and start new relationships. But in a year, in one year, you can build a new life for yourself. It is amazing how much we can do and change while living through the four seasons. So, what will I transform in my life this coming year?

A year ago I found myself thinking about my future. I would, I said, make a change from my engineering life into a more business-related one. I would find a way to complete my bachelor’s in chemical engineering, but I would graduate and move on to something different. I wanted a career that allowed me to make a big impact in society and organizations but allowed me to frequently interact with others. I also wanted to meet many new people, expand my social group, while simultaneously keeping my friends close.

This year allowed me to do that and more. Although I did not test for my black belt in Taekwondo, which was one of my goals, I think that my year was all I could ask for. I took some time off taekwondo and focused on academics, work, and friends. I also used that time to plan for my summer in Japan, a summer that was life-changing all by itself, and to figure out my career plan after graduation. Taking that break allowed me to clear up my mind in a way I may not have been able to otherwise.

A lesson I learned from that process, however, was to always keep communication open with others. To not shy away from sharing my honest thoughts with those around me, friends, family, instructors, and peers. Not keeping things clear may give rise to misunderstandings, and may end up hurting relationships unnecessarily.

I also learned that although it is great to have a close group of friends, you should always listen to your heart and your mind. There are times in which only you will know what is best for you, and if you don’t give yourself a chance to explore what your mind is telling you to do, what you feel is right, you may be giving up on the life you always hoped for. I love my friends, I cheer them every minute I can, but sometimes I have to be strong and self-reliant, cause only I will be there for myself every second of the day.

Here is a summary of what the seasons this year brought me –

Late Winter – Spring 2009 Just like the fields flower in the Spring to symbolize the new beginnings, there were plenty of new beginnings for me. Although I had a successful Academic semester, my major accomplishment was to learn to keep myself happy and relaxed! I think that, although I have always been on the ‘happy and relaxed’ side, this year is marked by an optimism I had not felt before. Maybe it was partially triggered by reading “The Secret”, Eckhart Tolle, or one of those philosophical books I read, or maybe it was just the strengthening of my relationships with my family, friends, and that special someone. Whatever it was, I think that my approach to life and the way I looked at it made this past year possibly my happiest yet. Waking up every morning and allowing myself to feel good about me and my day, and whatever it may bring, allowed me to really absorb and enjoy the beauty of each day. Even when times were not the best, when friendships/relationships were rocky, when family was not at its best, or when academic pressures were at their peak, there was hope and happiness within me. I always new things would be great. Not okay, not good, not fine, but fantastic.

Summer 2009– When the heat of the summer came around, I ran to beautiful Japan and there had a summer I could never summarize. As I wrote on my summer report about my summer –

How do I begin this report? There are far too many things I would like to express and share from my experiences in Japan, far too many to summarize here. However, to keep things simple, I will just say that my summer in Japan was a life-changing experience, and the memories from this trip I will forever treasure.

I think that is the best description of my summer. I wrote plenty about Japan – if you ever wonder what I did or loved so much in Japan.

Looking back at my summer, all I can remember is happiness and joy. I allowed myself to smile and laugh for no reason, to truly be present at the moment, and to stop thinking that “tomorrow” or “someday” I would be able to have the life I wanted and truly enjoy happiness. I replaced that thinking with knowing that there is no better day than today, no better moment than the present, to feel the warmth and happiness in our hearts that I had always been ‘seeking’. Maybe it was not Japan in particular that made my summer special, maybe the special part of it was me allowing myself to truly enjoy life.
I am now thinking about my summer in Japan, and it was a beauty. Those long days were beautiful and allowed me to truly experience what it was to be completely free –

Fall 2009 – Early Winter 2009 The fall season was one of many changes. The spring flowers and green summer leaves were now transitioning into more serious and mellow colors, and so was my life. But far from being a sad transitioning phase, it was yet another season of happiness and love. Although I missed my life in Japan, and the freedom I felt there, after some stumbles and lessons I learned that I could be free and truly happy anywhere. I did not need to be at a particular place to allow myself to be happy, optimistic, and free. I enjoyed the company of my friends, and I was able to strengthen my special relationship, which had bloomed during the Spring. I was also able to reconnect with friends and find a job, the job I had been asking for – a job that would allow me to transition from engineering to a more business-y job. This would allow me to solve problems while interacting with others and to make a big impact in organizations.

The late fall and early winter greeted me with snow in mid-October and then some brutal cold. This was before my travels to warm (almost hot) Puerto Rico. Just as I moved physically in the world, allowing me to escape the cold weather and embrace warmth, I learned this year that when everything seems cold around me, in my surrounding emotional world, I can transform my thoughts and my reality to keep my heart warm. I can always choose to irradiate happiness and love, and not to let the coldness and bitterness in the air infect me. There is always a way if I believe, and it is that way that I will always keep my life open to.

Concluding Remarks –

I am happy and have learned to be happier. This year has allowed me to transform my life mentally and emotionally and helped me become stronger and better. I will always strive for better, but will never stop enjoying the present, this very moment I am living. There will never be a better moment to be truly happy than NOW.

Enjoy the Holidays & Happy New Year ~
To a great 2009 and an even better 2010 ~
Life gets better, moment by moment.

Thoughts after being deferred by MIT Early Action

It was on early November that the waiting started for me. I had already sent my application to the best engineering college, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All my dreams were based on receiving an acceptance letter from that university; after all, I had been working for it since I was 12. I didn’t receive much encouragement from the people around me, but I was encouraged by the faith I had in myself and my abilities. The only thing that made me feel uncertain was the fact that I am not the student with perfect SAT scores or a 4.00 GPA. I come from the west part of Puerto Rico, were 99% of the students are encouraged to study a bachelor degree and be proud of themselves, and not going farther than the local public college. Having my target in another way of living I was looking forward to apply to the best colleges in the field I wanted to study, even if it meant moving to another country. That way I first knew about MIT and by visiting its website, reading the Blogs on it, and attending the MIT Information Session in the other side of the island I fell in love with MIT and its culture, people and history. I decided that there is no best combination for me than living in Cambridge and studying at MIT. My motivation kept growing as I read daily about the college. That’s how I decided to fill my application as soon as it was available in early August. I filled the application and without letting anyone criticize and/or read it, I sent the application. By early November the MyMIT website reflected that they had received my whole application, now I had no other choice than wait.

One minute after I knew that MIT had received the application, and that I could make no change to it, questions started popping in my head. Did I give my best filling that application? It was right to send my essay without waiting for someone else to revise it? Is my GPA of no more than 3.8 going to matter more than my schedule? Have I taken the right decision applying early? As the number of doubts inside me started to grow my self-confidence disappeared, I was sure that all of my dreams were going to remain as dreams. I was doomed to do nothing more than studying in the community public college and then working somewhere near my parent’s house. As time approached the EA notification date, I felt emptier and without breath, I refused to have that life many expected from me. What scared me the most wasn’t getting a decline letter from my perfect college; it was the fact that I had no time and/or money to apply to other colleges out of my island. My frustration grew as I was reading the news at the MIT blogs, only 12% of the students who applied EA had been accepted. Knowing that many of those would be the ‘perfect students’ I hated myself for not having read any prep books before taking the standardized tests I took and for not having taken classes with the ‘easy’ teachers, that way getting at least the ‘perfect’ 4.00 GPA. But oh no, my GPA had dropped after taking hard courses and, trying to do good in those courses, there was no time for preparing for some standardized test or taking a course for doing good on them.

The date finally arrived; there were comments on the blogs of students that had been accepted and their profiles. Predictable, students with more than 4.00 GPA (impossible in PR) and with almost perfect scores in the College Board tests had been accepted. Three days had passed and still there was no package for me. I soon knew that if you were accepted you would receive a tube with confetti inside! MIT people are awesome, was the only thing I could think. After almost one week, I had the opportunity of calling MIT to know the admission decision. Knowing that, I decided to call when my mother informed me that there was nothing on the mail. A voice on the other side asked me for my name… then my birth date… and finally said: “you’re calling from Puerto Rico, right?”. “Yes”, I replied as my heart and breathing stopped and waited for the admission decision. After what seemed as an eternity for me (I was about to collapse with nervousness) the kind voice on the other side softly communicated my admission decision: “All I can tell you right now is that your application has been deferred to regular action…” as the man on the other side finished the worst thoughts came into my mind. “Thanks” was all I could say when the soft voiced man finished speaking. As I hang up the phone, I could only imagine myself having the same life that I had been trying to evade since my birth, now I felt unrealistic and foolish, why hadn’t I applied to all of the other great colleges out there? Maybe they could be almost as good as MIT and I could feel as if I had achieved my dream by attending one of them… at least I could go to study out of my country!

Desolation invaded me as I realized that there was no space in such a great college for a person like me. How foolish I was in thinking that I could get in, and worst, in EA!

Soon I went to a friend of mine and informed her about my deferral, and to my surprise, SHE CONGRATULATED ME! I was shocked by her reaction and she knew it, so she hugged me and said: “You weren’t declined, and I trust that you’re going to be accepted in regular action, I trust in you”. I was almost shaking, all the pressure I had been feeling for the past hours for nothing, after all a deferral was not a decline after all! So I started cheering up and doing better. But after a couple of hours I just found myself writing this… and why am I writing this? I’m simply trying to put my thoughts in order and start living my normal life and working hard so I have the opportunity of getting into the college of my dreams, MIT…