Our guest on this episode is Priya Bajaj, currently Head of Engagement Management at Google Cloud for US West. She is an experienced business and technology professional with extensive career experience with tech giants.
Priya is originally from India, but she grew up in Doha, finishing high school there. She then came to the US to pursue her undergrad.
In this episode, Priya shares what it was like growing up in the Middle East, where the culture is so diverse. She also talks about going to college in the US and how she literally Googled the top schools to find the right one, ultimately ending up in Georgia Tech, where she spent most of her formative years.
Priya also tells us why she still pursued an MBA even after accomplishing so much in her career and how she uses what she has learned in B-school in her current leadership role.
Along with engaging executive leaders in her work, Priya is also passionate about creativity and giving back to the community.
On her experiences at Georgia Tech
Most transformative years of my life, for sure. I think my mindset, my values, everything was challenged in those four years. I had the privilege to be meeting people from all walks of life, meet some great friends there, and learn a lot from people. It was a journey. At Georgia Tech, there were people who challenged my belief system, created awareness with respect to what’s a different way of thinking about certain scenarios. And I appreciate that. I learned so much during those four years, not necessarily academically, but personally, about my hopes for life, what are the things that I like, what is the kind of life that I want to live? All of that reflection happened in those four years.
Why she pursued an MBA
The first one, again, student always. Truly, for me, that constant learning was very important. So, getting an MBA fulfilled that part of me that wanted to learn more. The second was imposter syndrome. At Google, there are so many amazing people that I always felt, am I playing catch-up with their brilliance and their expertise? And do they know something more that I don’t know? And since I knew I’m going to be in the business side of things for the rest of my journey, at least how I see it now, I wanted to make sure I, at least, understand at a one-on-one level, what are the different aspects of running a business as a leader? And what better way than to learn it in a structured manner at this school?
And the third reason was to learn from other people. I think we as human beings are meant to be social beings. We are not meant to just be put in one place. And the best learnings and reflections that I get are from conversations and idea exchange and conversations with other people. And I really felt that, at Haas, meeting people from different backgrounds, bringing different perspectives, just like how it was at Georgia Tech, helped me think through the way I’m thinking about certain things. Opened my mind to different concepts, different ways of approaching, and grew myself professionally.
On giving back to the community through mentorship
One of the things that keeps me grounded is giving back. Every six months, I mentor two women who are either at Google or outside. And I do this in a six-month rotation to allow for me to scale my impact, but also to allow them to take the learnings and go be successful. The reason it is so important for me is because I am acutely aware of how privileged we are to be here in the Bay Area working for the best firms. I would not be where I am today without the help of other mentors who coached me and guided me, either in a formal or informal capacity. The best thing I can do is pay that forward. And mentorship is one of the best ways I find of doing that.
One piece of advice for MBA students
The biggest thing I would say is to not get pressured by the concept of networking. I have always done what I term as selective networking, because there often are going to be people in the room who are not there at every bar, who are not there at every party, but they still manage to get a lot out of the program. And I think I am one of them. And I would still like to think I’m friends with many people in my cohort because I took out the time to do those one-on-one relationships and create those bonds that were outside of the traditional networking avenues. So, for those who are unable to participate in those traditional avenues, I would say, don’t be afraid of selective networking.
(Transcripts may contain a few typographical errors due to audio quality during the podcast recording.)
[00:00] Chris: Welcome to the OneHaas Podcast. I’m Chris Kim. Today, we have Priya Bajaj, Berkeley Haas MBA and Head of Engagement Management, West Region at Google Cloud. Priya is an experienced business and technology professional with experience at both Microsoft and Google. Along with engaging executive leaders in her work, Priya is also passionate about creativity and giving back to the community. Priya, welcome, and great to have you on the show.
[00:24] Priya: Thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited.
[00:27] Chris: Priya, I’m super stoked to have you on the podcast today. We’d like to start the podcast just talking about where you grew up. You studied electrical engineering at Georgia Tech. And you’re in the MBA program at Berkeley Haas. Where did you grow up?
[00:39] Priya: I love that question because I don’t think many people know my background. My parents are from India, and I was born in India. But we moved to the Middle East very early on. I was about eight or nine years old when we moved to Qatar. That’s where FIFA 2022 is happening. So, I grew up there all the way through high school. And then once I wrapped up my high school, I came to the US to pursue my undergrad at Georgia Tech.
Growing up in Doha was like staying in a bubble, which I now realize looking back. And I was very fortunate to grow up in the Middle East because it was such a great way to learn about diverse cultures, about getting the international experience, with respect to understanding different cultures, understanding different perspectives, seeing people from different walks in life. And now that I look back, I think much of my empathetic nature probably can be attributed to growing up there because I was so privileged to get that level of exposure unconsciously at such a young age. So, that’s where I grew up. I grew up in the Middle East.
[01:50] Chris: A lot of folks, maybe, are interested just because, maybe, folks have taken a brief trip or maybe seen things. What was it like growing up in Doha several years ago? And was it the same as what we envision today, just almost a bustling metropolis with a lot of things like the World Cup happening there?
[02:07] Priya: Oh, my gosh. When we first moved to Doha, I remember there used to be just one Sheraton across the entire Corniche, which is their downtown line next to the ocean. They just used to have one Sheraton. And today, if you go, or if you even Google the pictures of Doha, Qatar, it is just filled with all of these high-rises just like New York, bustling, like you mentioned. It has grown incredibly in the past 20, 25 years. I think much of their inspiration came from Dubai, which is their neighbor. And Dubai had outfitted the bar. And they wanted to get their place still. But it’s grown so much.
And I think that’s also where some of my early lessons about having a vision, working hard, growing towards it, I almost feel like me and my friends grew by ourselves also as Doha was growing up to get its place in the map. And I think we all have that shared experience. So, I’ve literally seen the country grow from being a desert to being what it is today. And my mom would always draw inspiration from the things that were happening in the city and being philosophical about it and telling us how we need to adapt that in our lives. So, again, as I think back now, I don’t realize that growing up, though, but all of these things unconsciously definitely shaped me to be who I am today.
[03:35] Chris: Priya, for a lot of us who are in the MBA program, going to college is maybe one of the first critical inflection points in adult life. What was it like coming from overseas and coming to the United States and having to choose a college and figure out what you wanted to study? Was that experience like for you? And what was going through your mind as you were going through that process?
[03:55] Priya: Growing up, I didn’t have much exposure to the colleges in the US. I think that came about, maybe, in high school, 11th or 12th grade. When my parents were trying to figure out, would it be best for me to go back to India to pursue my undergrad, to stay in Doha, because Doha is a really flourishing education city where there are US colleges that are parked there, or does it make sense for me to come to the US? I think the biggest reason I was able to come to the US was my parents. My parents had the vision of getting me to the best of whatever they can. And I think that’s been their theme of life, I think, has been serving their kids, as I’m sure many parents can relate to. And for them, it came from a place of aspiration, of how can I take my kids to the best possible place?
And based on their research, they felt coming to the US would be the best place. But we didn’t know anybody here. So, that was the key thing. When people would be like, did you go for college tours? No, it was as simple as doing a Google search, doing “top five colleges,” or I think it was “top 10 colleges in electrical engineering.” And the top 10 colleges that came—simple decision, “Priya, get into these colleges, you go to the US. If you don’t, you go to the backup ones,” because it was purely based on doing a Google search and ranking and going there—didn’t do any college tours.
So, the first time that I came to the US was after I’d gotten my admission and we came for—it’s called FASET at Georgia Tech. I think the equivalent is just the incoming freshmen program.
But having said that, I want to say that my story is not unique. I know so many international students who come to the US without doing a college tour and literally doing the same thing, where their parents or themselves, they’ll do a Google search about what’s the best college to go to and apply to it and go there. So, my story is not unique. It’s very representative, I think, of how immigrants end up coming here to the US for colleges, coming from that place of, also, aspiration.
I think the key thing for my parents was the reason the decision point was hard, because at the time, at least from Doha, we didn’t know many other members of our community who are sending their kids to the US. I credit that completely to my parents, especially my mom, who had that dream and vision to say, “That’s where she needs to go because she will get the best of the education. And if we can afford it, let’s make sure she gets it.” And the two cents of giving wings to fly, my fearlessness comes from my mom. She has always, from day one, had that vision for me and given me the confidence that “go do what you want to achieve.” So, even today, unconsciously, as I do things, I know that fearlessness comes because I can look back and see all these small and tiny moments when I’ve taken the leap of faith. Because coming to the US was a huge leap of faith for my parents, sending me miles and miles away, knowing they’ll only be able to see me once a year, twice a year. And again, as I see this, I want to recognize there are many other immigrant students whose story is the same. But our confidence and fearlessness, I think these are the inflection points that help us grow and adapt.
[07:29] Chris: What was it like when you got on campus? You’re coming, maybe, first or second time, and then going through that whole college experience. What was that like for you, just trying to go through the process to graduate?
[07:42] Priya: Most transformative years of my life, for sure. I think my mindset, my values, everything was challenged in those four years. I had the privilege to be meeting people from all walks of life, meet some great friends there, and learn a lot from people—a few of them I’m still in touch with. But it was a journey. Like they always say, it’s not necessarily what I got out of the program. It was the journey of those four years. Personally, it was probably the biggest delta I have had in my growth. Specifically, when I grew up in the Middle East and coming from my background, I came in with a certain belief system. At Georgia Tech, there were people who challenged my belief system, created awareness with respect to what’s a different way of thinking about certain scenarios. And I appreciate that. I learned so much during those four years, not necessarily academically, but personally, about my hopes for life, what are the things that I like, what is the kind of life that I want to live? All of that reflection happened in those four years. And I think self-awareness was a key thing I developed at Georgia Tech as I was trying to figure out which social groups to fit in, which academic groups to fit in, what do I want to pursue as a career. Even in career affairs, every single person I knew was either going in being a software engineer for one of the big companies. I was going into consulting. Which path did I want to take?
So, from every aspect of my life, I cherish those four years for what it taught me personally and how much I grew. And it was less about, I think, the cultural shock that most people probably felt. And maybe, that’s attributed to the fact that I grew up in the Middle East. So, I was familiar with growing up in different cultures as is. So, it was less about the culture shock and more about just personal growth, defining my moral and value system, because I think one of the things that even comes up in our Haas ethics class is ethics can seem boring or it can seem theoretical or philosophical. But the two moments when you need to pull that in is when you are in a moment of conflict or crisis.
[10:09] Chris: Yeah, absolutely.
[10:11] Priya: That’s when your ethics get questioned because, what is the value system from where you’re pulling the decision of yes or no? That’s the example, when I think back to Georgia Tech, that value system got transformed and refined. So, today, who I am, I think much of that got formed with the exposure I had to different people, different experiences, the joys, the sorrows. All of that formed the basis of the value system I hold today, I think. So, I definitely attribute Georgia Tech to my personal growth, because up to the age of 18, much of my value system was informed by my parents, by the culture. And I could choose at Georgia Tech how much to retain, how much to mold, how much to transform. So, very, very transformative years for me.
[11:01] Chris: What did you do after school? And what was it like going from being a student to now being a working professional?
[11:07] Priya: Very interesting transition for me. So, the first thing to know is I went to Georgia Tech to study electrical engineering. And my first internship was at Motorola, which is where I quickly realized that I need to be in a position where I’m interacting with people, as opposed to the traditional roles and responsibilities of an engineer. So, when I came back to Georgia Tech for my junior year, I actively sought out positions where I could be at the center of technology and business. I didn’t know at that time that’s called consulting. But that’s what I knew I had to seek out. And I ended up interning at Bank of America as a tech analyst. So, it still wasn’t consulting, but it was closer to being at that inflection point of business and tech. And so, then, when I graduated, I knew that’s where I needed to be.
And the reason for that, again, is one thing about growing up for me was I did multiple things in addition to school. So, I was in debate clubs and dance clubs and paint clubs. And I was in all of these extracurricular activities. So, I really enjoyed conversing with people and doing things that were in a more collaborative setting. So, I knew being in a position that I interact with people will be critical for my growth. So, when I graduated out of college, I started at Microsoft as a technical account manager, which was a very good stepping ground to learn how to be in a B2B enterprise customer-facing world. Very honestly, while at Georgia Tech, I did not know something like this existed. So, I remember I was in a career affair at Georgia Tech, and they looked at my resume and they said, “Oh, electrical engineering, that’s the engineering line.” And I went up to them and I’m like, “Do you know something where I can…” Again, I didn’t know the words product management, program management, consulting. If I knew the words, I think I could have articulated what I was seeking better. But I just described what I wanted without the titles. And fortunately, one of the recruiters was just like, “Why don’t you try the MACH program, which is the Microsoft Academy of College Hires for sales and services customer-facing roles?” So, I started my journey there, started in Dallas, and then within a year moved to San Francisco.
But the reason the transition was interesting is because I was used to doing multiple things at a time. So, working from 9:00 to 5:00, and then not having anything to do after 5:00 was a very strange transition for me. Because, even at college, if I was not studying, I was doing research, I was part of extracurricular clubs, or I would think about life with friends, like I was just sharing earlier. So, I wasn’t used to having all this empty time on my hands. So, it was interesting. And that’s when, again, my value system got tested, like, what keeps me sane? Where do I thrive? In which environment do I thrive? What keeps me mentally sane? Those are the things I was able to figure out during those initial years.
And learning is the other aspect. I’ve always had a very curious and learning mindset. And I needed an avenue to leverage that mindset after work. Because the learning that I was getting at work wasn’t sufficient to keep me motivated, I just needed more. And that was partially the reason I moved to California, in the hopes that it’s more of a metro city than Dallas and I’d be able to find places and things to do. So, yeah, it was a very interesting transition and downturn to figure out what life looks like when timetables and classes are not dictating your day.
[14:55] Chris: Priya, for a lot of folks, even coming out of the MBA program, going to a big tech company like Microsoft would have been a dream, but you didn’t just stay at Microsoft. After a number of years, you even went to a bigger tech… well, I guess, a different tech company in a lot of ways. You’re at Google. So, what was that transition like? And what were you thinking about, having worked at, really, maybe one of the premier brands at Microsoft and then going from Microsoft to another really phenomenal tech company like Google and being in the Bay Area for Google, nonetheless?
[15:25] Priya: I left Microsoft because my learning had plateaued in that particular role. Because Google was not yet number one or number two in the cloud rankings, there was an immense opportunity at Google to contribute to the business, to the field, in addition to doing the customer work that I was doing. The amount of challenging projects I’ve gotten the chance to work over here at Google has been phenomenal that I’m so appreciative of. And it allowed me to really grow every day. One of the things I keep telling my manager every six months, which he knows by now, is I hate monotonous a lot and I reach my plateaus very quickly. So, I need to keep picking up projects that challenge me, because that’s what motivates me to then give back to the business with respect to our 10x projects and 20% projects, etc.
So, that was the motivation, honestly, for changing companies, was to get a playground. And I was lucky to join Google at the time when we were just establishing our Professional Services Organization, which has now transformed into the Cloud Customer Experience Organization that I’m now a part of. And almost during my four and a half years now at Google, in the last four and a half years, I’ve been a TAM. I’ve been an engagement manager. I’ve been a regional lead for technical account managers. And now I’m leading the EM Organization for the West. And I don’t think this level of opportunity would have been possible at a more mature organization. So, I’m lucky to be in Google Cloud, which has all the benefits and resources of a large company, still allowing us to operate as a smaller firm within a few [inaudible 00:17:18]. So, that’s been my theme—learning, challenging, curious mind. As far as I’m getting these three things out of my role… and I’ve been very vocal about it with my managers. And I think that’s what really helped me also secure these next positions at the company, because I’ve not shied away in having proactive career conversations with my managers and laying out to them what will motivate me to give my 100% or more at the company. So, that has been very, very important for me to be in that learning environment.
[17:52] Chris: That’s awesome to hear, Priya. After accomplishing so much already in your career, folks would probably ask, why go get an MBA? You already are doing such great work and have accomplished so much. What was that thinking for you in terms of pursuing the MBA? And what was it like going through the initial process and then actually getting accepted and coming to campus?
[18:15] Priya: I ask this question to myself all the time. If I knew I don’t want to leave Google, is it worth going through the journey of the commute from Sunnyvale to Berkeley two times a week, etc.?
[18:27] Chris: Oh, yeah, very familiar.
[18:28] Priya: Yeah. I think three primary reasons why I applied to the MBA program. The first one, again, student always. Truly, for me, that constant learning was very important. So, getting an MBA fulfilled that part of me that wanted to learn more. The second was imposter syndrome, actually. At Google, there are so many amazing people that I always felt, am I playing catch-up with their brilliance and their expertise? And do they know something more that I don’t know? And since I knew I’m going to be in the business side of things for the rest of my journey, at least how I see it now, I wanted to make sure I, at least, understand at a one-on-one level, what are the different aspects of running a business as a leader? And what better way than to learn it in a structured manner at this school?
And the third reason was to learn from other people. I think we as human beings are meant to be social beings. We are not meant to just be put in one place. And the best learnings and reflections that I get are from conversations and idea exchange and conversations with other people. And I really felt that, at Haas, meeting people from different backgrounds, bringing different perspectives, just like how it was at Georgia Tech, helped me think through the way I’m thinking about certain things. Opened my mind to different concepts, different ways of approaching, and grew myself professionally. So, it’s less about, now that I’ve graduated out of Haas, what is the material impact on a title change or a job change or a company change? It’s more about what I have learned holistically to be an effective leader long-term. I’m certain one can learn that on the job. I just feel I got so much in the three years condensed that I am grateful for.
[20:41] Chris: Priya, one of the unique things in your story and my experience as well, we started on campus and we were going to class every week. And then in the middle of it, we hit the pandemic. What was that like for you, especially in your role at work? You’re in a customer-centric role with a changing environment. And then, also, in your free time, your B-school is also changing right before your eyes. What was that like for you? And how was that experience like as you were going through it?
[21:07] Priya: It was a very interesting experience. And in hindsight, I am so amazed at how wonderfully we all adapted through that journey. But for me, it was constantly about the mindset. I knew, if I could keep the right mindset on things, I’d be able to get through it easier and enjoy the journey. Because we know what the end is going to be, regardless, so might as well make the most out of the journey.
So, a few things that I did for B-school that I think helped me remotely is, when we were in person, we would end up sitting with the same people in class. And so, every time we had a breakout discussion, I would be chatting with the same five people. One of the best things I found moving to Zoom for our classes was Zoom would break us automatically into breakout rooms. So, I actually got closer to a lot of my classmates and heard their perspectives that I never would have in an in-person class because we don’t walk around the room asking other people their opinions. But with the Zoom breakouts, I was actually able to hear other people more.
The other thing was understanding people’s perspectives on certain cases or certain classes, because the loudest people in the class are not able to now speak because you’re raising your hand and other people get an opportunity. So, I actually was thrilled at all the positives that we got out of being virtual. And lastly are the initiatives that I could contribute to being remote. For example, I was part of the Women in Leadership Conference planning team for last year’s conference. I was a Blue Cohort there for both the 2020 as well as 2021 WE Launches. And many of that, I was able to do because I do not have to drive from Sunnyvale to Berkeley and lose two and a half hours on a commute one way because we were able to participate virtually. So, I honestly loved the portion of our class that was online because I took advantage of the resources that I could now immerse myself into that was harder for me to do in person.
And then I wrapped up my last semester in person. So, that was great, too, because I got the chance to reconnect with all the classmates and exchange stories. And definitely, being in person has its own benefits that Zoom can’t replace. So, what I’m taking away from my experience is actually the best of both worlds that the pandemic offered. And likewise for work. Being in a customer-facing environment, you are more drawn to pulling out your empathetic nature because people are going through so much hardships. There is an element of convenience now that everything is online. Again, definitely missed the hallway conversations that one can have more organically in person. But I’m also a half glass full kind of person. So, I have been tapping into all the advantages I’m getting in being in a remote environment that could not be possible in person. So, it’s been an adoptive journey. And I’m sure, now, people will complain and carp that we need to sit through traffic and go back to work. Just then we’ll be complaining about being at work. So, that’s what life is, keep doing the fun things so it’s not boring.
[24:44] Chris: Absolutely. What has been your takeaway from the MBA experience as a whole? And what is your focus now as you’re transitioning and taking on increased leadership roles, even at work and outside of work as well?
[24:57] Priya: Definitely. I think, with respect to work, the key takeaway for me is how do we bring in the holistic knowledge that has been gained at Haas and bring that to my role as a leader, which involves not just managing and running a business for the region, but from a people management perspective, from a running effective business initiatives, there are elements from Haas all across that foiled in. To give you an example, one of the first classes we took at Haas was on people management or leadership. And they taught us there about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivations that every individual has. So, now, unconsciously, when I meet my team and I know different things motivate different people, I am able to draw upon those lessons that we learned in our case studies about, “This person is more motivated by leadership validation. This person is more motivated by money. This person is more motivated by more challenging work.” And it allows me to distribute work amongst my team in a more effective manner, knowing what will help them thrive and feel fulfilled every day at work.
Another example is the pricing class. Even though, by its name, it’s meant to be on pricing products, I felt I learned so much more about running a business and strategy in general in that class, because the class draws upon the concept of not just how you price a product but how are you able to think about competition and the ongoing strategy that you need to have, marketing, and all the different concepts. So, now when we think about similar things at work, I am able to draw upon those lessons, as opposed to looking at it as isolated tasks or work that we are focused on.
So, the takeaways from Haas are so many that they aren’t necessarily a list of bullet points but more about things that I am able to draw upon as I go through my role. And it’s given a sense of confidence, also, that negotiations—you are every day negotiating with the other person, like, what do they need? What do I need in order to make this a win-win situation? These are the lessons of confidence that have now come more naturally, having gone through the program.
And lastly, I think the culture of Haas, being that we wear our heart on our sleeves and we are such people leaders, and I know that’s something Haas takes pride on, is so in sync with my general value system already that it’s been one of the best takeaways, knowing that you don’t have to change to be an effective leader. You can keep intact the people component, the empathy component, caring component, and still be effective and result-oriented at work. So, I’m excited about taking these lessons as the scope of my work increases, as my team increases, because the community at Haas is also always present. We keep pinging each other on Slack about, has anybody run into this situation or that situation? So, people is obviously the biggest thing one is going to take away from Haas. I’m very grateful for the community I have met, for the professors I have met. I’m sure we’re going to be able to ping them anytime, seek their input, and sustain that relationship as well. I am so excited that Haas is now going to be a permanent fixture in my life, as opposed to an episode that is now over.
[28:48] Chris: We were talking before, your work and your career is incredibly just awesome already, but you’re also passionate about stuff outside of work—creativity and giving back to the community. And you were sharing with me earlier, you even started writing recently. I wanted to talk a bit about that. What drives you in those areas? And how has that really just become part of who you are? And why are you passionate about those things?
[29:10] Priya: Yeah, absolutely. The reason it is so important for me to give back to the community is because I am acutely aware of how privileged we are to be here in the Bay Area working for the best firms. And it’s not that there aren’t hard-working people out there. It is just a privilege of where you are and the exposure you get, the lessons you get. So, one of the things that keeps me grounded is giving back. Every six months, I mentor two women who are either at Google or outside. And I do this in a six-month rotation to allow for me to scale my impact, but also to allow them to take the learnings and go be successful. I learned so much while mentoring from them. I’ve learned so much about how to be an effective leader through that process. So, honestly, it’s been a two-way journey. But it’s been very fulfilling for me. I would not be where I am today without the help of other mentors who coached me and guided me, either in a formal or informal capacity. The best thing I can do is pay that forward. And mentorship is one of the best ways I find of doing that.
I have a four-by-four matrix that keeps me sane. So, talking about creativity, the way my four-by-four matrix works is, in the left-most quadrant, I have family and friends. In the second quadrant, I have work. In the lower left quadrant, I have health. And in the lower right quadrant, I have creativity. And spirituality is what encompasses my matrix. So, this is my four-by-four life matrix. And the reason I have creativity over there is I realize that if I have a really good week, where I have walked out and taken care of my health, I’ve done great work, I’ve talked to family and friends. I can still feel unfulfilled if I’m not creative. If I hit all of these four points—not every day, but maybe once every two weeks—I realize that I feel good in general, which is why creativity is intentionally there, to remind myself that that is something that fuels my soul. Because, otherwise it’s very easy to associate your identity to work. So, that’s why I keep myself occupied after work with these initiatives.
[31:39] Chris: That’s awesome. Priya, it’s been great to have you on the show. As a tradition, we have a lightning round at the end where we ask a couple of fun and light questions. I would love to have the opportunity to ask you some questions and, also, some other questions as well. But if you’d be up for it, we’d love to go through a lightning round with you.
[31:56] Priya: Let’s do it. Oh, my gosh, that is exciting.
[31:58] Chris: Number one, my first question—my favorite question, what was one of your favorite places to eat in the Berkeley area?
[32:05] Priya: There is this really small Indian place at Bancroft Way where they serve an authentic dish that I’ve actually not eaten anywhere else.
[32:18] Chris: Oh, wow.
[32:18] Priya: That was my favorite place to go to. In between the 45-minute break that we would get in the evening, I would rush there, grab the food, and come back. So, I’m definitely going to miss those dinner runs.
[32:30] Chris: Absolutely. Second question, what’s one of your favorite memories from being in the MBA program?
[32:36] Priya: WE Launch, hands down, favorite memory. It was so exciting to be in that energy. And specifically, in WE Launch, when we were having our cohort chant challenge, I think that’s what marked it for me that I’m part of Cohort Blue. So, it was the sense of belonging, the sense of community that those two days created. Because one of the biggest things I had, I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, I’m such a liar, Georgia Tech alma mater,” just like, “I’m never going to fall in love with another institute again.” But you know what? WE Launch did it for me.
[33:15] Chris: Oh, yeah, very good times from WE Launch. Second to the last question, Priya, what’s the one piece of advice, either personal or professional, that you’d give to somebody else?
[33:24] Priya: I think, at least, for those who are still in the MBA program, the biggest thing I would say is to not get pressured by the concept of networking. I have always done what I term as selective networking, because there often are going to be people in the room who are not there at every bar, who are not there at every party, but they still manage to get a lot out of the program. And I think I am one of them. And I would still like to think I’m friends with many people in my cohort because I took out the time to do those one-on-one relationships and create those bonds that were outside of the traditional networking avenues. So, for those who are unable to participate in those traditional avenues, I would say, don’t be afraid of selective networking.
[34:12] Chris: That’s great advice. And our last question, Priya, what’s one thing that gets you excited about the future?
[34:18] Priya: One of the things a friend once told me—actually, my husband, on one of our first dates, he told me that when he was planning to pursue engineering he had asked his brother, what’s even the point of doing engineering? Everything has already been discovered. And I really like that. I think, because we are right now at a point where it might feel like we are so technologically advanced, what else is even there right now to do more? And I think that’s what keeps me excited for the future, that there are always going to be things that are going to be innovated. We, as a human race, have so much potential in our human brain to contribute and transform to this world. I’m excited for the opportunities that the world is going to bring to us and the adoption we’ll have to do to keep going on as a human race. So, the future is actually really exciting. And I can’t wait to see what will be the next mobile phone that we today think is going to be impossible, but it will soon be a part of our everyday life. So, I think that’s what is exciting to me.
[35:28] Chris: Priya, it’s been great to have you on the show today. I want to say thanks again for joining us as our guest. And I just want to wish you all the best in the future.[35:37] Priya: Thank you so much, Chris, for having me. This was very, very nice. And I super appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.