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.

[3] See more resources at

Impermanence, change, losses

Impermanence is, to me, what makes life thrilling and worth living.  Knowing that things constantly change means that there is a possibility that today will be a great day filled with wonder and great surprises.  And since things will change no matter what, we might as well use this to create opportunities for a brighter future and to improve everyone’s lives.  Impermanence is a great thing.  But, it is this impermanence that also brings losses into our lives as it makes way for new things, and coping with these losses is perhaps the most difficult thing for me to do.

There is a big part of me that is driven to understand the what, the how, the why and then to try to control it, try to make everything predictable, manageable, manipulable.  The engineer and consultant in me just wants to be able to design a future, cut out the painful parts, sprinkle in a little bit of more happiness each day, put it to production (an optimized production, of course) and then see it flawlessly come to life.  Yet life has a funny way of reminding me constantly that things will continue to change whether I like it or not and that I should not think of the future as something known or predictable.
The main problem I have is losing a strong connection with someone.  My feelings towards people change as our relationship evolves, or dissolves, without any conscious effort on my behalf.  Similarly, people’s opinions about me, and their feelings toward me will inevitably change over time, for the better or worse.  Trying to somehow predict how someone will feel about me, or overly trying to make them think about me or feel about me in a certain way will only result in pain and a quicker deterioration in our relationship.
As people move on with their lives, either physically or emotionally, I must adjust to accept the reality of the moment.  I shall always cherish the bond we have or used to share and take this new reality as a potentially temporary situation that will in the future reverse.  Distance and time help clear up our thoughts and bring to life the true feelings we have, sometimes even bringing people back to your life with an even stronger connection.  But if that’s not the case, and the change is permanent, I must accept that new reality and be grateful for the great memories of what used to be.
I must focus on the present moment and what life is bringing to it right now, and make the best of it.  I need to leave the things that are out of my control at ease, let them get sorted out, and trust that anything that is missing to complete a chapter in my life story will come at just the appropriate time and place.  I should now focus my attention on cultivating what is appropriate at this time.  One step at a time. 

Looking for a Mentor

My obsession with self-improvement leads me to reading a great books that inspire me to do something fantastic, motivate me to change my habits to better ones, or develop myself in completely different ways.  The only problem I have found is a lack of conversation about it.  I find it uniquely stimulating to share my thoughts and ideas about something I have learned, so that I can solidify my understanding of them and/or gain a new perspective.  However, it seems to me that self-improvement is not towards the top of the list of topics people talk about.  Same as with investments or finances, and many times relationships, I have encountered that many people tend to shy away from talking about important matters and instead focus on small talk about the weather, a new piece of technology, or the next vacation they will take.  Although I believe these are all fair topics of conversation, I have been yearning for the kind of conversation I rarely experience, from which I leave feeling empowered and with a thrilling sensation that I have found out about something that will help me improve my life and the life of those around me.

This lead me to continue pondering about the options I have.  Thankfully, we are blessed with living in the information age, in which most of the information you want to know about is just a few clicks away.  You can purchase great books in less than a minute, and have it delivered to your eReader or any other electronic device almost immediately.  You can also access fantastic online resources and learn just about any topic.  The two things that I lack from this approach, however, are direction and the opportunity for conversation.  A lack of these two makes the process of improving my life less efficient, hence why I decided to find mentors to help me.  Here is what I want to get out of my mentor or mentors.

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.
– John Crosby


I could try to learn everything there is to know about calculus on my own (with all its derivatives and integrals), or I could choose to go to school instead and have a professor guide me through a curriculum of what he or she thinks is more appropriate for me to learn.  If I choose the right place to study for my purposes, the assumption is that the latter would yield me much better results in a much shorter period of time.  The guidance and mentorship of a professor would help solidify the right knowledge and help me apply it in the context of what matters to me.  This is the kind of direction I am seeking in a mentor.  Someone who can see where I am coming from, where I want to get to, and help me set a direction to close the gap.  This is what I refer to when asking for direction from a mentor.


I learn the best, and I assume most people do as well, when I have a chance to bounce my thoughts around with someone knowledgable responding to them and challenging them.  When I started learning Japanese in college I quickly realized that memorizing words before the quizzes was VERY challenging for me.  I would sit and read the list over and over, write the words over and over, and try to memorize them.  Inevitably, there would always be at least one word during the quiz that I would forget.  After a couple of weeks, however, I studied for one quiz with one of my classmates, and we quizzed each other out loud.  We also attempted to use the new words in the sentence structures we had learned, and that’s when it hit me, this wasn’t so difficult after all!  I realized that the easiest way for me to learn new vocabulary was to actually put it in context of conversation and actually attempt to use/understand it.  Having someone there to listen to me say my newly formed thoughts/sentences and respond to them solidified for me the knowledge I had just acquired.  It also gave me the opportunity to learn alternative ways of thinking about the new concepts I was learning from my classmate.  Now, if this approach was so effective to learn while in school, why am I not using it to learn about important life topics such as finances, spirituality and life in general?  It doesn’t sound like something wise.

Mentors come in all different shapes and forms, or so they say, and some of the most important advice I have received has been given to me over a casual meal or while chatting on the phone.  I have been lucky to find a few great mentors at different times in my life and am now looking forward to find one more (or a few) to fill in the gaps that I am currently experiencing.  Most of the mentors I have had, however, have been there for me without me having to go and find them.  I simply met them at my workplace, at school, or through a friend.  I never had to go out of my way to find a mentor, the relationships just grew organically.  So I am left to wonder, how do you go and find a mentor when you need it?  There’s only so much Oprah I can watch/read, and doing so only gives me the advice I seek, not the advice I may need and don’t know I need.

What do you think about the importance of mentors?  Where do you find mentors?  How have you found your mentors?

Lessons from 2010 and a few quotes to keep in mind

Last year, I wrote a rather lengthy post which I just re-read, and although I appreciate it very much because it brought alive some old memories with its prose, I will refrain from duplicating the effort by doing the same this year.  Instead, I want to take a few minutes to reflect upon some of the lessons 2010 offered me that I would like to remember throughout the year:

  1. Treasure friendships.  It is friends that give us the strength to continue moving forward when things get difficult.
  2. If it matters to you, give it your best.  No one will ever care for what you ‘could have’ done or achieved, but rather for what you actually did.  Make sure you have no regrets.
  3. When it is time, simply let go.  Sometimes we focus on not failing or try to hold on to someone/something and don’t realize that it’s hurting us more than it’s worth.
  4. Learn from others, but don’t blindly believe everything they say.  There are many wise people out there who can give you well-intended advice, but it’s not necessarily the best advice.  They can only see the world through their own eyes.  Learn from their perspective, but don’t get lost in someone else’s world.
  5. Follow your own advice. We often have great advice for our friends but are unable to follow our own advice when we need it the most.  Be honest with yourself.
  6. Keep a healthy body and mind.  Your body is the instrument you have to make a difference in this world, make sure it is in good shape to allow you to achieve your dreams. Meditate, eat well and exercise.
  7. Be optimistic and keep happiness simple.  It’s the only sustainable way to work and achieve your goals while continue to be happy and healthy.
  8. Be grateful for what you have. It will allow you to focus on the right things in life.
  9. Keep your goals in mind. Luck really is when opportunity meets preparation.  Make sure you are ready, or working towards being ready, for when the opportunity arises.
  10. Take a real interest in others. You will become a better person, and make the world a better place, if you genuinely care for others.

There have been many other lessons and great things I have come across this year, and I would like to finish off by sharing some quotes that I would want to read again in the near future.

“Don’t take yourself too seriously, no one else does”
– Regina Brett

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t – you’re right.”
– Henry Ford

(Good fortune and happiness will come to the home of those who smile.)
– Japanese Proverb

“How people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours.”
– Wayne Dyer

“It is the simple things done over long periods of time that will give permanent and constant results.”
– T. Harv Eker

“Find what you’re going to be famous for. That’s not to say you should ignore your weaknesses. But make sure your strengths are aligned with what you want to be famous for – what your legacy will be.”

And, just to keep it real: “When you are complaining, you become a living, breathing “crap magnet.””
– T. Harv Eker

I hope this is a good summary of things I want to keep in mind in 2011.  I have many goals, but mostly I want to make sure I am on my path to do greater things each day.  The specific ways in which I will achieve this remain unknown, but I will let life surprise me with opportunities.  I will work on getting myself ready for when the opportunity arises.

Important Lessons I learned at MIT

Although my MIT education was full of a very diverse set of experiences, I wouldn’t say that everything I did was amazing or fantastic, or that I couldn’t have been successful without having learned certain things.  However, there are a few particular things I learned at MIT, inside and outside of the classroom, that have served me well and will hopefully continue to do so after graduation.  At least, I think that they will.  Here are a few of them:

1) There’s usually a lot more to a problem that can be initially appreciated. This is a lesson I learned inside and out of the classroom.  The thought that I understood all there was to a problem was one of the easiest way for me to fail.  Always keeping my mind open to other possibilities was one of the most important things I learned in college.

2) One of the biggest mistakes we make is to not make the most out of the resources we have. This was something difficult for me to learn.  I used to believe that there was some sort of value in being able to say “I did all this by myself,” but really, no one cares.  At the end of the day what matters is what has been achieved.  If you learned how to use Maxwell equations by yourself and someone else did it in half the time by going to office hours, there’s really nothing for you to be proud of, you should have made better use of the teaching assistants yourself.  Don’t get me wrong, I still think there is great value in doing things yourself, but only if that will allow you to acquire skills that you wouldn’t obtain otherwise.

3) Overcommitting is the easiest way to do a mediocre job at many things, and not feel good about your work, VERY often. After a good semester in college, I had this overcommitting syndrome, or however you may want to call it, and I tended to want to take on the world all by myself. I would want to do sports for 10+ hours a week, and work for another 10+ hours, while simultaneously undertaking a courseload that was expected to consume 60+ hours of my week.  I would then end up doing a mediocre job at everything, and up until today I feel bad about some of the decisions I made.  The only thing that I’m glad about is that I learned from those experiences.  I learned to do as much as I can do and feel proud of, but no more than that. If I can take on 5 things and be proud of none of them, I would rather do 1 to 3 and feel proud of everything I do.

4) There’s MUCH more to life than our surroundings. This is probably one of the most important lessons I learned.  Most of us tend to live in a bubble, in which we only think in terms of what is immediately around us.  It only takes a shift in our mindset to realize that those tormenting problems we have, the ones that consume our life and energy, are silly tiny details we have chosen to focus on and don’t compare to the blessings we have received in this life.  A simple trip somewhere else, or conversations with people outside the environment we are surrounded by, are usually enough to make me realize this truth. 99% of the time we take ourselves too seriously, and think that our problems are bigger than they truly are.  We need to relax, chill.

5) Balance can be tricky, and I’m not just talking about work-life balance. Many problems I encountered with regards to bringing balance to my life were not related to work.  I actually had more issues making time for myself, rather than committing all of my time for extracurriculars, academics, and friends.  I realized that having some time to unwind, clear up my thoughts, and simply reflect about life, was one of the most important things I learned to do during the past 4 years.

6) Most, if not all, of our limitations are self-imposed. Over and over I found myself making excuses as to why I didn’t achieve something, or performed at a certain level, just to find out later on that my excuses were vague, empty and meaningless.  There was someone out there facing worst circumstances and still pulling off the results I didn’t.  This taught me to re-evaluate myself, my actions, and thoughts.  Once I started removing obstacles from my head, just like magic they disappeared from my life.

Although there are many other things I have learned, this is the first installment of things that came to my mind as the most salient lessons I have learned.  I hope you enjoyed them.  If you happen to have any reaction, comment, idea, thought, etc.  please leave a comment.

Thank you, Omar