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Expanding how we search for what we see
A former management consultant now works in an emerging area at one of the world’s biggest tech companies.
Head of Platforms, Google Lens & AR
I grew up in Chennai in southern India. I had a few family members who were engineers and my mother is an architect, so I think I was influenced by their careers. I imagined myself going down a similar path. But then, when I was around nine or 10 years old, I started getting into video games and computers. My parents bought one of the earliest computers, and I’d spend hours on it. I remember being fascinated by simple coding problems, trying to make squares and rectangles shake around.
After finishing my master’s degree, my first job was a core mechanical engineering role. For a couple of years, I designed heavy mechanical equipment for the energy industry before realizing that I really wanted to broaden my role and venture into tech. At that point, I joined GE to work on Engineering and Operations, with an eventual goal in mind to apply for an MBA.
After I got my MBA, I knew I wanted to work in consulting because of the opportunity to explore a lot of different businesses and a lot of different kinds of projects.
I learned how to make an impact by looking at the way a business operates from all different angles. And of course, I definitely learned the importance of building strong relationships with people. I still use those skills today.
The best part of what I'm doing right now is actually quite similar to what I did at PwC. Helping to shape an emerging product like Google Lens is very exciting.
Google Lens is a relatively new product that helps you search for what you see. The underlying image recognition technology uses visual intelligence and visual browsing capabilities, so you can point your camera at a particular object or image and get search results. We want to make the product extremely helpful and useful to our users, so we’re exploring new use cases as we go along and making sure to focus on the product’s quality and reliability. We expect a lot more to come in the next year or so.
I initially joined Google Fiber, which was expanding across the United States, and I think they liked my experience in supply chain operations and production. Prior to Google, I'd spent almost five years as a core supply chain professional at a rapidly growing company called Silver Spring Networks. Since then, I’ve gotten to explore many different emerging tech opportunities.
Internal mobility at Google is pretty simple and easy. You're encouraged to explore and learn new things. So, after spending some time with Fiber, I joined the hardware business, specifically in Pixel and Google Home, along with some of the other new products coming out, and there was a need for a supply chain and planning expert. From there, I was asked to move onto Google Lens, helping with our expansion across the Android collaboration ecosystem and eventually into managing platforms.
First, just go and meet people. You never know what might come from having coffee or lunch with someone and listening to what they do, then reflecting on whether it would be a good area for you to explore. Second, don't be afraid of taking risks. And third, take the time to build a strong relationship with your manager and team. Make sure you’re doing your current role well, while also setting expectations about where you want to go.
I believe in the concept of servant leadership, so I try to be helpful. If there's anything that's blocking my team members, I’m here to help. Second, I know that the sum of my team is going to do much greater, and better things than I can do individually. I try to provide autonomy to every one of the folks who report to me because, ultimately, I want all of them to gain expertise and become leaders themselves.
More than knowledge or experience, I look for people who are big thinkers, who are passionate about joining an emerging business. I want to see their drive to grow along with the business.
With my daughters. I have an eight-year-old and a five-year-old.
They're fascinated by Google, and I think they have pride in the fact that both their parents work there. My wife and I bring them to the office to introduce them to the technology and products we work on. But at home, we do try to limit technology so that it doesn’t overpower their core learning experience, which comes from school and books.
Worry less. It's all going to be okay. Of course, there will be ups and downs in your career, but over the long term it all evens out. Take each day as it comes and do your best.