#MLTRocksSXSW 2019, MLT Googlers Talk Tech, Careers, and Community
By Dan Walsh, Director, MLT West Coast
Every March since 1987, hundreds of thousands of people flock to Austin, TX, for ten days of art, music, tech, and all manner of creativity at the convergence event of the year – South by Southwest (SXSW).
For the third consecutive year, MLT converged on SXSW with more than 150 Alumni, Fellows, coaches and staff taking part. To help the MLT community connect, Google hosted a fireside chat and networking reception at their super-cool office in downtown Austin. An MLT partner since 2011, Google currently employs a large community of MLTers, and many more have worked or interned at the company at some point in their careers.
Below are excerpts from the fireside chat at Google with panelists Brandon Williams Jones (MBAPrep, 2008), Head of Americas Sales Development, Google Cloud; Pavel Sandoval (CP, 2014), Enterprise Customer Development- SoCal Lead, Google Cloud; and Mark Taguchi, MLT’s VP and Managing Director, West Coast.
Q: What was your path to Google? How has your MLT experience impacted your career?
Pavel: Truth be told … I would not be here if it were not for MLT and Career Prep. It’s been a transformational experience. MLT is what has enabled me to have a successful career.
Brandon: I graduated from Harvard Business School in 2010. My journey started on the South Side of Chicago, on to Howard University, spent time on the East Coast, became an MLT MBA Fellow, did Wall Street and headed out to the Bay about five years ago. Now I head Sales Development for Google Cloud Americas in the Austin office.
Q: How does your perspective as a MLT alum shape your impact at Google?
Brandon: I want to start by saying how much love I have for the MLT family–folks like Mark Taguchi. The biggest thing about MLT is they are very smart folks who are really passionate about the work. In MBA Prep, my MLT coach really cared about me, truly cared about where I was going and was fiercely committed to bringing out the best in me. With those seeds planted, it is great to be a part of the MLT family and showcase the growth in our alumni and our careers
My second experience was with MLT’s Career Advancement Program (CAP).
CAP is for mid-level professionals, in which sponsoring companies send executives to a year-long executive program with C-level executive coaches grooming you for the senior level. I would definitely recommend that program for those considering it. MLT was central to my gameplan to building an ecosystem of resources and people to further advance my career and give back to MLT & Google. A lot of the folks who I met via MLT have became very close— like being a part of their weddings, vacations, etc.
Q: How has the MLT experience enabled you and facilitated your break into the tech sector and a successful career at Google?
Brandon: I think the first thing is that MLT gives you credibility. A large percentage of underrepresented minorities who get into the Top 10 MBA schools come from MLT’s MBA Prep program…The MLT alumni network is a strong pipeline of people you can reach out to. You can say “How did you do that?” They give you time and they help you. The MLT alumni community is very open to investing back into that community.
The second thing is that MLT has very strong pipelines into great companies. It sure did happen for me, when I got accepted into business school, even before I actually enrolled. UBS, the investment bank and an MLT partner, offered me a pre-MBA internship. That was a phenomenal opportunity for me. It got me my first exposure to banking, and I became well immersed into the MLT program early on.
If you are looking to get into tech, MLT and people like Mark Taguchi have been very instrumental in driving a strong talent pipeline into tech companies. Mark pushed me and other alumni to make sure we did what we needed to do … to get into these companies and to give MLT support … so it can keep growing and continue its great work.
So the first step—whether you are in MLT or not— is to reach out to folks you feel are a part of the family, who will invest in you. Give them 30-45 minutes and they will lay out the process for you.
Pavel: MLT gives you an amazing perspective in business acumen, in terms of applying those transferable skill sets. For example, I worked at Disney (parks and consumer products). The biggest thing that MLT Career Prep coaches instilled in me is driving deep into my transferable skills sets … where I could connect the dots and connect the story together. I made the transition into tech leveraging the MLT network. A lot of people have made a similar transition. If you feel you did not make it into tech via the interview OR you want to make that transition, MLT provides the means for you to leverage the network, connect the dots and make the jump.”
Brandon:I agree one hundred percent. As mentioned in another SXSW panel yesterday, a lot of people have the misperception that you have to be a super technical programmer to get into tech. But in reality, forty percent of the jobs in tech are in areas such as communications, marketing, operations, finance, etc. People might be intimidated, not really feeling comfortable or envision they have to be super technical as they consider a career in tech. But the reality is there is room for everyone. Our numbers don’t reflect the potential that our community has to step into these positions. That is something that I am very passionate about. And also if you are in that position and have a strong skill set in one of those areas that every company needs … but don’t know how to get in, then let’s have that conversation.
Q: What makes Google special for you?
Pavel: What I love about Google is how cross functional it is. Google has a culture of helping Googlers further expand their professional development. For example, at some point in their career many Googlers work twenty percent of their time on a project that they are passionate about upon approval of their manager. I advise that you definitely be scrappy—as they say at MLT—to get to work on the project you want. Google really fosters an environment for ongoing development.