Brad CalderWhy did you choose to study computer science?

When I was in junior high, I got a Commodore 64 right after it came out. You had to teach yourself how to program to pretty much do anything on it. From that point onward, I was hooked in terms of understanding how computers work and being able to create the future with software.    

Tell us about your career path.

  • 4 years undergraduate studies at University of Washington
  • 5 years of graduate studies at CU Boulder
  • 1.5 years at Digital Western Research Lab
  • 9 years as a Professor in Computer Science at UC San Diego
  • 9 years creating Azure Cloud at Microsoft
  • 5 years creating Google Cloud at Google

Who had a strong effect on your interest or trajectory in computer science?

I absorbed the excitement exhibited by my computer science professors from both undergraduate and graduate school, which motivated me to “always be learning” and to become a professor in computer science myself. I had the privilege of learning from and working with so many great professors, and two especially stood out for my areas of interest. As an undergraduate, Hank Levy at University of Washington made computer architecture fun and got me interested in that area, and Dirk Grunwald at CU Boulder created an exciting environment for learning and innovation that made me want to pursue that area for my graduate degree through to being a professor at UC San Diego. 

What did you learn during your time at CU?

At CU I was able to dive deep into the areas of computer science that I found exciting, working with Dirk Grunwald and many other professors. This helped reinforce my desire to always be learning and provided the foundation to make it easy to continually learn throughout my career.  

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining?

I would highlight two areas.

The first, spending time with and seeing my undergraduate and graduate students grow while being a professor at UC San Diego was very rewarding.    

The second is switching to industry the year Cloud started, and starting Microsoft Azure with a few others, and helping make that a success over a course of nine years. Then coming to Google and helping make Google a success in Cloud over the past five years.

What is your current professional role? What is your favorite part of that role? 

VP of Google Cloud, where I oversee product and engineering for hardware, compute, networking, storage, databases and data analytics for Cloud and Google. Favorite part is both working with the amazing talent and people at Google and working with our customers to see the incredible impact they have for their businesses and users.

What is your biggest career lesson to date?

The importance of inclusion and respect in everything we do. I have experienced a wide spectrum of different work cultures over the course of my career, and this made it very clear to me how important it is for everyone to be valued, included and treated with respect. This requires continuous investment as teams and companies grow.  

What moments in your personal life have been most exciting or defining?

The highlight of my personal life is meeting my wife of 26 years while attending CU Boulder, and spending as much time as I can with her and our three boys. The other defining aspect of my personal life is that I run every day, which is my form of meditation, helps clear the mind, and pushes myself physically.

Are there any “words to live by,” credo or top values that you follow?

Be confident in your abilities, take that leap and enjoy the journey. At every turning point in my education and career I didn’t know where the journey would take me and there was a lot of risk involved in making the change/decision, but I took the leap and have enjoyed each stage of the journey.

What advice would you give to current/future computer science students?

To go out of your way to be inclusive, respectful and collaborative. This is an amazing time and industry to be working in, but at the end of the day what matters is each other. So as you go forth to create the future, do so where everyone is valued, included and treated with respect within your own group, across groups and across companies. 

What do you expect or hope to see in the next 50 years of computer science?

The ability to create amazing experiences, solutions and to solve the world's problems with ease. The advances in Cloud and AI are just the first steps towards this, allowing us to easily create new solutions and innovate at a pace that has never been seen before.