Please introduce yourself!
My name is Shobana Shankar and I’ve currently been at Google for 5 years leading the ISV Sales Specialist team. I have been in a few previous roles at Google, such as initiatives related to resellers. However, the current focus right now is on ISVs. There is a lot of growth expected over the next few years for us in this area, which is very exciting!
What were some of your hobbies and interests growing up that you think led to your current career path?
I have had hobbies and interests all over the map. Growing up, I was highly involved in competitive sports. Track and field as well as volleyball were some of my favorites. I was also working towards joining the Olympics team during high school. Overall, I played a lot of sports for my district and for my state. I never really saw a classroom on a daily basis because all I wanted to do was be out there playing sports. The competitiveness, team dynamics, and the end goal of winning a game is what really drove me towards athletics. After my dad moved to the United States, my passions eventually switched. I found myself becoming involved with dancing. From hip-hop, modern contemporary, and Bollywood, I indulged myself in many different styles of dance.
I’ve also always been interested in math and science, which naturally led me to pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer systems engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I was the only female in my class as well, but found myself very excited about the subject. I think teamwork, collaborating, and the idea of winning together are fundamental values that I have carried throughout my personal and professional life. I think of my team and I as one driving force trying to figure out how to succeed together, and my background in sports is what instilled my beliefs about team dynamics.
What advice would you give women that are trying to break into this industry?
I think any woman who wants to break out into this industry would benefit from finding a mentor. My mentor helped me to navigate difficult situations that I faced and I was able to follow the example of someone that I looked up to. They can also help you navigate the industry and connect you with people who can help you succeed. I also believe that representation is very important. There are now a lot of female leaders in the tech industry and success stories that are published and discussed, as well as success stories involving women. I think following those stories will inspire others to chase their dreams and eliminate any self-limiting beliefs. Believe in yourself and your passions and it will take you far!
How can the tech industry demonstrate that it truly values female talent?
I think there have been a lot of good changes that will continue to help. Organizations continuing to highlight female talent and creating an inclusive as well as equitable environment by celebrating the successes of women is making a positive impact. This also goes back to representation and showing women that this can be done and that they have the ability to do it themselves. Outside of that, Google is doing some amazing initiatives as well that involve promoting a culture that empowers female talent.
What is your favorite aspect of working at Google Cloud?
The people, hands down! The talent here is unmatchable, which leads to a great culture. There is a word we have here at Google, which is “Googleyness.” It’s hard to define at times, and everyone has their own unique perception of it. However, I think it’s a combination of grit and passion as well as doing things the right way. At Google, it is more about how you do it than what you do, which I think fosters a lot of positive energy and promotes collaboration.
Could you share an empowering story that highlights being a woman in tech?
Jim Anderson built a women’s community within the partner channel in our group that gets together on a monthly or quarterly basis. The group is rooted in sharing each other’s stories and how we’re navigating different environments as women. I shared a story as a part of the kickoff that was about me almost quitting full-time work to take care of my children. After the kickoff, I received so many messages from other women who shared a similar story. Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves, and we often tend to hide things that are going on, especially when you’re a mom. There’s so many scenarios that involve work and family that can often be stressful. I think it’s important to remember that there are many other people going through something similar who are trying to juggle 100 responsibilities at the same time. Having a supportive community and talking about it is what truly makes a positive difference.
As a woman, how do you balance being career-oriented with other aspects of your life?
I wish I had a magical answer for that question. It is not always the easiest, but I think taking it one day at a time is important. Thinking about your overarching goals and having a good support system is also helpful. When I just had my kids, COVID hit very hard, and I went from working in an office everyday to being fully remote with two small children, which was quite difficult. It was the leaders who made the difference during that time. For example, when I wanted to quit, It was the leaders who suggested taking two months to figure out what worked for me in terms of my working style. Within the first month, I was able to determine what would work for me, and it was the support from leadership that provided me with that flexibility.
How did you realize Google Cloud was a good fit for you?
I’ve always looked at Google as a great company to work for, since the beginning of my career. It’s known for its great talent, and we’ve all had a chance to use their products. Google Cloud reached out to me when I was working at a startup in San Francisco. Someone I worked with at Cisco who was at Google at the time reached out to me about the role. The interview process also reassured my positive perception of Google. The questions that were asked as well as discussing the culture demonstrated that Google truly cares about hiring the right leaders and people. The ground-breaking technology and amazing culture is why I know I’m at the right place.
What advice would you give to women in tech who are still early in their career journey?
Network! Look at people who are successful in the areas that you might have an interest in. Meet as many people as possible, explore different avenues, and definitely lock in that mentor. Have an open mind when meeting people, especially in tech. Networking can make a huge difference as you progress in your career and are looking for different transitions.