In October 2019, after almost four years as a VMware pre-sales technical engineer, I left and found a position as a Customer Engineer at Google Cloud. I left for mostly personal reasons, and still regard my team, management, and executive leadership in a very positive light. I just needed to make a change. Doing the same job at Google Cloud has been a big change. Though there have been ups and downs, the positives far outweigh the negatives. I’d like to deliver on my promises to blog more on what I’m learning, but no promises!
First things first, why did I leave VMware? It was a combination of personal reasons, including the passing of my father, that came crashing together with unfortunate timing. I decided I needed to make a professional change despite having great relationships with my manager, peers, sales rep, extended team, and even my skip (director).
Almost ten years earlier, I’d set my sites on an SE position at VMware as my dream position. I could potentially have found a home in that position for many more years, but decided the best thing for me was to leave. I knew I’d miss my colleagues and the customers I’d build relationships with. Regardless, I moved forward.
The Google Interview Process
The Google Cloud recruiting team was who called me back. To be honest, I’d had a big blind spot when it came to Google Cloud in the Enterprise. To their credit, they knew they weren’t the market leader. Every person I asked throughout the process had no illusions about Google Cloud’s market position, but felt that the company had some key differentiators. They felt that the product and engineering was so good that the path to success was only dependent on getting enough high quality sales and technical sales teams up to speed; They felt that covering key customers fast was going to be critical.
After passing an HR phone screen, the process was fairly intense with 4 hours of on-site interviews to get approved as “eligible to hire,” by a hiring committee. That was followed by a matching process, with the managers who had open spots reviewing the interview output and possibly doing an additional qualification interview. If the manager wanted me, then the recruiter negotiated on my behalf with a separate compensation committee for an offer. It’s a fascinating process which is apparently well known in the software engineering industry, where people routinely investigate working at Google; I’d never heard anything about it, though. I had to seriously weigh what seemed like big factors at the time: Working from a Google office when not meeting customers and using Google’s office and productivity tools instead of the ones I’d grown used to at VMware. Leaving VMware’s Single Sign-On solution felt especially difficult, but ultimately those were just tools. The big change would be commuting to an office most days.
About halfway through the process, I remembered that I knew people who worked at Google, though not necessarily where I was targeting. They confirmed that the days of brain-teasers were far in the past. There were a pretty structured series of three or four interviews detailed at the How We Hire page (if you care). Topics covered included General Cognitive Ability (“learn how you approach and solve problems. And there’s no one right answer—your ability to explain your thought process and how you use data to inform decisions is what’s most important”), Role-Related Knowledge (“how your individual strengths combine with your experience […] how you can grow into different roles—including ones that haven’t even been invented yet”), Leadership (“how you have used your communication and decision-making skills to mobilize others”), and Googleyness (“how you work individually and on a team, how you help others, how you navigate ambiguity, and how you push yourself to grow outside of your comfort zone”). It’s actually all there on the web site, and now that I’m on the inside, it all seems very clear. Looking back, though, it seemed a bit mysterious.
Well, I passed the on-site interviews and was qualified to be hired. A manager from the San Francisco office wanted to interview me for an open position. My wife and I had had a serious, on-going discussion about the lifestyle change involved in me working in an office, but the overall opportunity seemed too exciting to turn down. Soon, I found myself restlessly tossing and turning the night before my first day at Google.
I had the standard first-day-of-school nightmares, but managed to catch a ride (and a selfie) on the Google Bus the next morning.
Up Next, Onboarding and the Early Rush
- Google Bus: JohnWhite
- VMware Final Day: JohnWhite