Bhavna on the balcony of the Google Boulder offices.
Bhavna during her time as a CU Boulder student.
Why did you choose to study computer science?
My father predicted that computers were going to be the "next big thing" and since I liked math and science, it seemed like a good fit.
Who or what had a strong effect on your interest or trajectory in computer science?
When I transferred to CU from a university in Cyprus, I was reeling from culture shock and apprehensive of a big American university. I was late to arrive and uncertain about whether I could succeed in the CS program at CU. Professor Bobby Schnabel was the CS department chair and went the extra mile to make sure I was registered in the appropriate classes and had dorm space. He even got me an independent study in C++ to meet some class prerequisites! I was mildly interested in the field but taking an algorithms class with Professor Hal Gabow energized my love of problem solving. I became much more interested in computer science. A programming language class with Professor Mike Schwartz was pivotal in my career in computers. He invited me to join his research project and during the course of one summer, convinced me to stay in the U.S. and apply for jobs. He gave me the confidence to interview and this was the start of my career in CS.
What is your biggest career or life lesson to date?
The three lessons I have learned that I try my best to follow: Lead by example, always be learning and open to feedback on what you can do better, don't wait to be 100% ready for a new opportunity but instead seek out roles that will stretch you -- uncomfortable excitement means you are growing and living.
What is your current professional role? What is your favorite part of that role?
I am an engineering director at Google, leading the Boulder Payments team. I am also the Google Boulder site lead. My favorite part of the role is that it exercises both my technical knowledge/skills as well as my passion to create collaborative, psychologically safe teams and manage technical folks. I have usually had a chance to flex one side or the other but my current dual role gives me the opportunity to do both. How cool is that?!