Who Are Your People?

I’ve been working in the Silicon Valley tech industry for nearly 10 years now. I’ve worked inside small startups, large companies, and everything in between. But it all had to start somewhere.

 

We all have that one pivotal moment in our professional lives. That one opportunity, that one job, that one project, or that one promotion. That one event that changed the trajectory of our entire career. What was mine? Mine was 10 years ago. The day I went from being a security guard at a tech company to a software tester at that very same tech company.

 

That pivotal moment often presents itself because there is a person or people who gave us a chance. Who were my people? Well, there were three of them that made their entrance very early on in my career and all three of them played an important part in my unconventional path in the tech industry.

 

I was working as a security guard at Tivo and a woman named Corinne was my boss. She knew I was destined for greater things and she often told me that I could and should be doing so much more than being a security guard. She even encouraged me to explore something inside of Tivo if I could. She told me she would support me one hundred percent even if it meant losing me.

 

Next was Maya, the QA director inside of Tivo who gave me my first job in the tech industry. She was the first person who gave me a chance to enter into the tech industry. It was essentially the lowest position possible but that’s all I needed. If I could get my foot in the door, I would let my work ethic, attitude, and personality speak for itself.

 
To this day, I still remember my interview was at 3:00 pm and I got off my shift as a security guard at exactly 3:00pm. I closed up the security office and walked down the hall to one of the meeting rooms where Maya and another member of her team were waiting for me.

 

I was so nervous and I even apologized to her for the fact that I was still wearing my security guard uniform in the interview. I passed the interview and got the job as an entry level QA software tester, which not only changed the trajectory of my career but it also changed the trajectory of my life.

 
Enter Vallab, a Senior Manager who doesn’t mince words and has extremely high performance standards. His motto was “If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.” When I met Vallab, I was a QA tester with only 1-2 years of experience in the tech industry.  

 

I will never forget the day I interviewed for his team. It was my first time ever stepping foot onto the Google campus. I passed the interview with a few of the engineers and the final step was to meet Vallab. I passed the interview with him as well and I got the job. The team later told me that I had competed with, and beat almost 50 other candidates for the one job opening.

 

Over the next few years, I quickly learned that most people didn’t last under his management style because he demands and expects excellence at all times. He has extremely high performance standards and will routinely push you to your breaking point. BUT if you manage to pull through and come out the other end, you’ve learned and grown exponenitally.

 

For one reason or another, a lot of my previous colleagues never came out the other end. After working with him for a year or so, he once said to me “You’ve got something special in your personality and a work ethic that is hard to find. I need more people like you.”
I went on to work for him for nearly 6 years, all inside of Google. He helped me take my career from a QA Tester to QA Engineer, to a Manager, and then to a Senior Manager.

 

Almost 10 years ago these three people changed the trajectory of my entire career. For that, I will forever be grateful. There are people that are put into our lives for a reason. Have you thought about who those people are in your life? Or more importantly, how you can be that person for someone else?