by Xiaojing (Cynthia) Sun and Takuma Kageyama
Whether through search, Gmail, Google Map, YouTube or Android smartphone – our life is heavily connected with the products and services by Google. From the career standpoint, Google has been well-perceived as one of the most popular companies among MBA students. It is an intriguing topic – how Google employees, so-called “Googlers”, carry out its business and continuously change the world.
On September 25th, two Rady students, Xiaojing (Cynthia) Sun (MBA ’16) and Takuma Kageyama (MBA ’16), honorably got a wonderful opportunity to explore this global leading company as the participants of the invitation-only Google Summit event. They summarize their experience below.
Approximately 100 MBA students all over the world were selected by resume-based screening and invited to Google’s Mountain View campus. In accordance with Google’s rigorous penetration strategy for Asia-Pacific (APAC) market, students who are looking for jobs there were chosen.
Overall, this one-day event enabled us to 1) Get to know the business units and work descriptions at Google, 2) Communicate with talented Googlers and understand pervasive working culture shared among them, and last but not the least, 3) Network and cooperate with other MBA students through a case competition.
Below were three of our highlights from the summit:
Breaking the Ice
Takuma: The Icebreaker was unique. To begin with, everyone was asked to make a pair and do rock-paper-scissors. Each winner was paired again while each loser cheered on the winner of his or her match. The cohorts grew as the tournament went on. Eventually, two finalists were enthusiastically cheered up by the losers – by then, the entire room had become so hot!
Cynthia: In my perspective, it vividly modeled what happens in the real business world. No matter how fierce the competition was between you and the competitor, when the two parts become team members, everything would go towards the whole team’s benefit.
As we perceived throughout the event, teamwork is always the most important factor in Google’s success. Just as one speaker mentioned, every step Google made is done by excellent teams, not individuals. When you’re in a team, you do not consider your own interest, your own idea and your own perspective. You 100% support the team’s decision on whose idea to take and make the most effort to realize the idea.
Teamwork spirit can never be over emphasized in a big company’s culture, but at the very beginning of the Summit, Google designed this specific icebreaker to make us understand the real meaning of teamwork more deeply.
Takuma: We welcomed Ken Tokusei, Director of Product Management, as the keynote speaker. He has been leading Google by creating unique functions for Google Map or Google Now. In his entertaining and compelling speech, he touched upon Google’s adaptability. He emphasized the need to, “think of local issues as global” to make ideas worldwide standard. For example, he enabled Google Map to show search results with photos based on his inspiration from photo-centric Japanese culture. Google wants diversity inside and encourages people to solve or improve issues from global perspectives. When observed, this mindset prevents silo-like customization and helps stretch the frames of thinking out, therefore making Google flexible and competitive.
Cynthia: There is one old saying that says: the only thing that is constant is change. During the event, we heard this saying many times. Yes, in order to survive in this complicated and fast-growing world, we should always keep the ability to adapt with changes, especially for a leading high-tech company like Google. Just as one keynote presenter said, Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. To make this happen, everyone in Google must have the ability to deal with the fast changing environment. Once a decision is made, how to make it a realistic product in the least amount of time becomes quite important. To react rapidly to outside and inside change is another key factor of Google’s success.
Takuma: After being divided into 10 groups, students were asked to tackle the question: What should Google do for the APAC market in 2016? With only 15 minutes to discuss and two minutes to present, each group was required to invent a concise but plausible idea. It required more than time management. We were expected to be agile, know each other, interpret the question, frame the problem, facilitate discussion and lead to a quick and streamlined conclusion. The experience gave us the impression that at Google, a place where people flexibly and dynamically interact, they need employees who are ready to jump in and get started.
Cynthia: This event provided an opportunity for us to realize how important it is to be agile to the changing environment. The Summit had a very tight schedule which included several different sections, filling every minute of the whole day. We switched from one topic to another, we got fresh information every minute and we even changed locations almost every hour. In order to keep pace with the whole team, we needed to adapt our expectations quickly and get involved every time we switched into a new section.
It’s almost impossible to completely grasp what Google does within only one day. However, we were able to meet Googlers in person, delve into how they think and learn what Google values – adaptability and agility. On top of that, we had a fun time visiting the Silicon Valley. Thanks, Google!
Cynthia Sun(’16) is an MBA candidate at the Rady School focusing on Accounting, Finance, Business analytics and Leadership. She is currently interning at JPI Companies in San Diego, CA. Her work in this real-estate company includes Financial Modeling and Market Research. Takuma Kageyama (’16) is an MBA candidate at the Rady School of Management focusing on Data-driven Marketing Research, Scenario Planning, Leadership, Values & Team Management. He was in charge of the product marketing strategy for a medical company during the summer.