Monday, February 25, 2013

Back at Google

Here I am, back at Google for my fourth first day at this crazy company. And I couldn't be more excited. I spent the last few months investigating opportunities all around the world, primarily at companies under 100 people, but at the end of the day, my real criteria for this next move were these:
  • Role: Some combination of software engineering and product management with a road to primarily product work.
  • Team: Smart, passionate people who will challenge me every day.
  • Problem: Work on something socially important. Provide real value for real people.
  • Technology: Web and mobile software.
  • Location: New York City.
And strangely enough, after a whole year of discussions with Google, they finally offered me exactly that.

So what will I be doing? Starting today, I'll be doing a mixture of software engineering and product management, working with a strong team of engineers building web and mobile software under the Google.org umbrella.

Last I was at Google, I did primarily product management work, and discovered not only did I really enjoy it, but I was also pretty good at it. That's definitely where I see myself in the long term, but I also recognize that in this industry, there's a one way road from technical roles to non-technical ones. In other words, once you move into a less technical role (like product management), it's much harder to become more technical (like a software engineer). What's more, having a strong technical foundation is very highly valued, even in non-technical roles. So it seemed like a good idea for me to spend my first several months on the job boning up on my technical skills. I have no doubt that I'll learn a ton, and it'll allow me to be a stronger PM down the line.

I can't say much about the team, product, or technology I'll be working on (those pesky non-disclosure agreements), but I'm excited about it. What I can say is that it's part of Google.org, which builds technology specifically geared at social impact. From their website, "Google.org builds technology to address global challenges and make a lasting impact." The division has undergone a number of transitions over the last several years, but I'm enthusiastic about this most recent technology-focused approach that Larry Page and my old mentor, Alfred Spector, have put into place. After spending a year building and deploying technology in the developing world, I know that technology can't solve every global problem, but it can go a long way to making things better. I'm absolutely pumped to start making my impact.

To another happy return!

6 comments:

Marjorie Cole said...

This job is so cool. This is a dream job, designed for just for you. You got everything you wanted plus it has built in some learning that will really help you in the big picture of your career!! I know you will make the people at Google just as proud as your family is of you. We love you very much!!! Go Ben!

Tony Brett said...

Great news Ben. This sounds like a fantastic job and it's great to see you doing something that will help the developing world too. I'm sure there are many people who are in awe of what you are doing for our planet. I think it's great! I wish you every success in your exciting future with Google.org

Noah Isserman said...

So happy for you, Ben, and proud of your thoughtful decision-making. Your prospecting period, with all of its learning and challenges, was well spent -- this seems like a great fit for you and for Google as you work toward improving (another small piece of) the world!

Benjamin Cole said...

Thanks everyone! I'm super excited to start contributing again. :-D

Quint Kreyling said...

Ben, congratulations on your accomplishment, I am affiliated with Buzz and Marjorie Cole (via yard maintenance and family friends), and after hearing your story, I am inspired to do great things like yourself. Best of luck to you and your endeavors
.

Benjamin Cole said...

Thanks, Quint! That's very kind of you.