Manasi Kulkarni, BASc’09
Manasi graduated from UBC with a BASc in Electrical Engineering in 2009. She began her career at TELUS in Vancouver and was then faced with a move to California that would shift her career path. Read about how Manasi used this move as a key step to advancing her career.
Tell us about your role. What are your main responsibilities? Who do you work with?
I’m currently working as a Technical Program Manager within the Global Infrastructure Group at Google Headquarters. It’s a pretty niche role within the company and combines my engineering background with my experience as a Project Manager.
What are some of the key steps you took in the beginning of your career that you believe really helped to move your career forward?
I wouldn’t say that my career path has been the most predictable. As a result of the recession in 2009, the job market was quite tough. I first landed a position as an Engineer in Training (EIT) at TELUS and worked there for five years. I got to work on a lot of the newer projects — for example, Wi-Fi was still up and coming, and I worked on some large-scale deployment projects. My spouse and I then migrated to Silicon Valley and I went from working at TELUS, which is a huge company, to working as a Project Manager at a small startup. This was a huge shift for me. Though it was technically a smaller role, it challenged me in so many ways. So looking back, this move really was a key step in my career as it helped unlock so many opportunities for me. It definitely wasn’t a career step that I intentionally took, but it made me much more open to risk-taking, which I now attribute a lot of my success to.
Describe a situation where you had to make a decision that felt career-defining. How did you feel as you made the decision? What did you decide and how did it affect your career?
I was very unsure of how moving to California would affect my career. Through making the decision though, I discovered that I’m not bad at risk-taking. Working as a Project Manager at the start-up was such a new experience for me. The skills that I learned as I navigated this couldn’t have been learned anywhere else, and ended up setting me up so well for the rest of my career journey. As a result of this experience, I was then able to make the transition to my current role at Google Headquarters with a new-found self-confidence.
What advice do you have for someone who may be doubting or second-guessing their career journey?
Be open to taking risks and working through ambiguity. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to be doubtful. What’s important is how you overcome it. Consistency and focusing on smaller goals are key. There’s no elevator to success — you have to take the stairs. Just focus on one step at a time. Take a rest if you need to, but find the confidence within yourself to keep going.