Tag Archives: Susan Loh

Ann Arbor, Google, and Recruiting

Last night, Google presented the second of two talks, this one for the Ann Arbor Java User Group. The topic of the Java talk was "End-to-End Clustering" and it was presented by Ashok Banerjee, a Noogler  (he's only been with Google for a month or so).  He is an Engineering manager who used to work for BEA on the WebLogic team.  Ashok did a great talk on how to balance load and make software fault tolerant and highly available. He has an easy speaking style, and I really liked how he kept the audience involved, periodically checking to see if people understood, reminding them that if they shook their heads up and down (yes), their neighbors would see, but if they shook them side-to-side (no), only he would see, and he would further explain the topic.  This led to a nicely interactive discussion with points clearly stated.  There was some active audience participation as well, which is always great to see.

Ashok promised to share his slides from the talk, and once those become available, I'll link to them.

As with Thursday's talk on Test Driven Development, this talk was held at the Google Ann Arbor office. I had really pushed to have the meeting at the Google office, as had Susan Loh, who was coordinating the event.  Not only did having it there make things easier for her to organize, but it also exposed the company a bit more to the local developers. I, personally, hadn't had an opportunity to get up to the Google office, and I suspect others were in the same situation.  It's interesting to have a view into Google culture (it made me smile to see 2 high chairs in the cafe, and I can only surmise that a few Googlers bring in their small children once in a while for lunch).

Google really wanted this to be a tech talk, not a recruiting push, and Susan was fairly low key in her recruiting efforts, mainly just leaving some cards on a table and telling people that they were there. But I had an opportunity to talk to her in detail about Google and the way that the company does hiring and I thought that that information might be of general use.  I hope that I will accurately portray this, and I hope that someone corrects me if I don't.

  • Google doesn't hire based on experience.  They are really interested in getting good minds. 
  • Google also doesn't hire for particular jobs.  That is, when you apply at Google, you indicate preferences for a team that you might want to work on, but the company decides if they want to hire you first, and THEN determines what you will be doing.  I both like and hate that .  I like it because I think it's really cool that Google emphasizing hiring the right people.  I hate it because I see interviewing as a two-way street, and not knowing what position you're hired for seems like it makes that part of the process quite one-sided.  I would like to see that explored a bit.
  • Google has recently stopped emphasizing location when they hire.  It's easy to see how they have perhaps saturated the market in the Bay Area, and have to look outside that area.  They have engineering offices in Phoenix, Chicago, Boston, Boulder, Atlanta, Seattle, New York, and Pittsburgh.  They have sales offices in nearly every large city, including both Ann Arbor and Detroit.  There has been a lot of speculation that they might open an engineering office in Ann Arbor.  My conversation with Susan Loh last night did nothing to dissuade me from thinking that was possible, but over the past week, I did get a slightly different impression about how that might actually happen.

Originally, I had thought that at some point in the future, there would be a huge announcement that Google was opening an engineering office in Ann Arbor, and that the governor would throw a big party, SPARK would get all excited, the Ann Arbor News would notice, and then the hiring would begin.  But, I don't think that's how it's going to happen.  I mentioned previously my thoughts that Google is testing the waters a bit, trying to see who's here, to determine if a pool of developers is available to support such an endeavor. I still think that is basically true, and that these tech talks were a perfect way to start that. But, what I had missed was the location transparency that Google is now employing in its hiring. Basically, if Google is hiring irrespective of where someone might actually sit, then it's fairly easy to bring employees into an existing sales office.

That means that there's the potential that Google MIGHT be interested, even now, in hiring software engineers for the Google Ann Arbor office.

Susan mentioned that she was impressed with the local community and its response to these events (60+ people for each of the 2 nights), and with the number of user groups and other organizations that are active in the area.  The audience was lively, interested, and engaged in the presentations. I know that's what they want to see.  However, several people at Google (both in person and on podcasts) have mentioned that cold, hard data is the best way to make things happen.  If Susan, Ashok, and Russell go back and say we seem interested in having an engineering office here, that's one thing, but a nice array of resumes piling up on Susan's desk provides that data that Googlers like to see.  So, if you want to let Google know that you're here, send Susan your resume.  You can send it to her at sloh AT google DOT com.  Susan didn't do a strong recruiting pitch, but I'll do one for her, and for Ann Arbor. Let Google know that Ann Arbor is chocked full of technical talent. It's in all of our best interests.