FTG 0010 - Career Advice for Coders & Non-Coders with Google Engineer & Tech Leader Jim Durrell '94 '05g


Guest Bio:

Jim Durrell ’94 Eng ’05g Bus is a senior engineer at Google in Pittsburgh working on the AdBrain machine learning infrastructure. Before joining Google, Jim was CTO at Health Monitoring Systems doing public health reporting and VP at McKesson building automated pharmacies. He earned a BS in Computer Science with Honors from the College of Engineering in 1994 and earned his MBA from the Smeal College of Business in 2005. He's happy to talk about technology or just about anything else, and you can find him on LionLink.

Episode Specifics:

Jim shares his story and insights for all Scholars including

· The value of engaging classmates and friends as resources to inform your major and career choices

· Finding non-major related clubs and the opportunities those can present

· Solving real-life problems for real-world experience

· Byzantine problems in computer science

· How job searching has changed since the 1990s – and how it hasn’t!

· The differences between front-line/entry-level roles and leadership roles in tech companies

· Adjusting to your first management role and then senior leadership roles

· The value of getting an MBA – particularly from the Smeal College of Business

· What it’s like elevating to the C-Suite

· The overlap of managers and mentors and how to identify and approach mentors

· Creative solutions for complex problems

· What machine learning is

· What it’s like working at Google!

· Finding red and green flags during the interview process

· Thoughts on being not only a Scholar Alum but a parent of a Schreyer Scholar

· The importance of recognizing and honoring your support system

· Ideas for approaching professional development in internships and after graduation


Schreyer Honors College Links:






Upcoming Events

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Make a Gift to Benefit Schreyer Scholars

• Join the Penn State Alumni Association


Credits & Notes:

This content is available in text form here.

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer).

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer.

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License.

The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and used under Creative Commons License.

Greeting scholars and welcome to following the Gong, a podcast of the Shire Honors College at Penn State. Following the gone takes you inside conversations with our scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career in life advice and it spanned your professional network. You can hear the true bread of how schollar alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rind the gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Shawan Doheen, class of two thousand and eleven, and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. Jim Durrell, class of nine hundred and ninety four, is a senior engineer Google in Pittsburgh working on the ad brain machine learning infrastructure. Before joining Google, Jim was CTO at health monitoring systems doing public health reporting, and VP at mcksson building automated pharmacies. He earned a B S in computer science with honors from the College of Engineering in one thousand nine hundred and ninety four and earned his MBA from the smeal college of business in two thousand and five. He's happy to talk about technology or just about anything else, and you can find him online link. Jim Shares his story and insights for all scholars, including the value of engaging classmates and friends as resources to inform your major and career choices, finding non major related clubs and the opportunities those can present, solving real life problems for real world experience Byzantine problems in computer science, how job searching has changed since the s and how it hasn't, the differences between front line and entry level roles from leadership rolls and tech companies, adjusting to your first management role and then senior leadership roles, the value of getting an MBA, particularly from the meal College of business, what it's like elevating to the sea suite, the overlap of managers and mentors and how to identify and approach mentors. He also taughts tretive solutions for complex problems and what machine learning is, and he also shares what it's like working in Google finding red flags and green flights during the interview process, and thoughts on being not only a scholar alum but a parent of a shire scholar. He wraps up at the importance of recognizing and honoring your support system and ideas for approaching professional development and internships and after graduation. Now we'll dive into our conversation with Jim following the Gong. Jim, thank you so much for joining us here today. On following the gone I want to start at the very beginning with you and find out what inspired you to come to Penn state and to what was then the university scholars program, now the Shire Honors College, to Study Computer Science. Was that always a passion for you or did you develop that...

...after getting to Penn State? Sure we'll first of all, thanks for inviting me. It's really exciting to be with you. As for how I found Penn State, I grew up in my family moved to central Pennsylvania when I was little. Until we had no ties to penn state. And if you're not tied to Penn state and you only think against it, but man, you wish Penn stater or should be quiet like that. They talked a lot about it. But I was sixteen and Picking Schools and my dad told me to go to Penn State. Sad you're too young to lock in what you want to do for your life and no matter what you choose, Penn State's going to have a good program in it. Go to Penn state and it made a ton of sense, and so that's that's how I ended up a penn state and literally within two hours of being on campus I was at the freshman pepper rally yelling we want the lion, and I've got a die hard ever since. I think that's really solid advice from your dad. There's very few things that we don't have here and don't sell at at Penn State. So really spot on. So how was it that you came to find computer science then? So I was always in the computers. I always had computers I was working on, did projects and programming competitions in high school, but honestly, I went to Penn state for a business major. It didn't really occur to me I could major in computer science. This is back in the dark ages, before the Internet and before thecom of thecom bubble, and it wasn't obvious that see us was such a lucrative career, but I took the cus classes. I enjoyed those the most. I was excited. I found myself that's the internships I was applying for, and I's learned what some of the salaries my classmates were getting off her and I realized no, this could actually work really well, and so it switched to computer science and said if I it's what I was excited about and it pays well, then it's a great choice. Yeah, I think that's really helpful that you you know we're able to get that information from your classmates. Now I'm curious, Pre Internet, going a little off to the side here, how did you actually find that out from then? Did they come back to campus and talk to you or walk us through that process? I'm curious of what that was like in the early S. sure. Well, my one buddy had gotten an internship at IBM and it was through talking to him and referrals that I got my internship at IBM. But he had gotten that and told me what they were paying and it was an order of magnitude more than what I earned at my summer job and that was very notable. But then I also heard, like what you started asking around other students in the class and that's a frequent top of a conversation. Obviously, what how people are doing a job searches and what they're finding. So I picked it up that way. So, regardless of the level of technological infrastructure at the time, what I'm hearing is networking...

...is critically important no matter the era. Yeah, definitely. Now in the pre questionnaire you also shared that you were involved in some really cool things on campus that had absolutely nothing to do with computer science, which is the obviously the hallmark of a scholar with a broad range of experiences. Can you tell us about those activities that you participated in outside of stem? I was always involved heavily in music and actually I think there was a whole group of us that were computer science majors and scholars and did a whole bunch of things. And and either thespians or several several of us were also in the find me Afa Music Fraternity that we're very heavily involved in. So I met my wife in a thespians production and find me Alpha. I was in the dreamers and Acapella group that sang on campus and understand still singing on campus doing singing valentines every year, but I got to sing for Sarenad Joe Paterno, I got the serenade George Bush when it came to campus. I even got a combining them. I got a scholars independent study credit for building a scheduling system that let us record all the different dreamers who knew which parts what times they were available for Singing Valentine, so we knew which songs we could or couldn't sell at a certain time. That's incredible. I mean that probably really helped your group take off, and also Kudos to you for leveraging that for some academic credit, because imagine it was probably a pretty complex bit of coding in the early S. actually looks it would have been more educational than I expected. I thought it was going to be a quick scheduling program it turns out this is a probably computationally computationally hard problem that could do a scientist called bin backing and there really isn't a super efficient way to do it now. Was this anything that led into your thesis work, or did you tackle a different computer science problem in that space? No, my thesis was the title was Byzantine Agreement and expected constant rounds of communication. So, like every good thesis, it has scary sounding words. We're confusing titles, but no, it's pretty much unrelated. So that that thesis. In any distributed system, things eventually get out of sink. Somebody fails, somebody they're timing gets off, something like that. And if when that happened everything stopped, it would be fine. We could tell systems had stopped and we could just restart them from some wellknown starting point and everything's fine. That's not what happens. Systems just start to fail in weird ways that we call those Byzantine failures, and my thesis was building a distributed voting on for them so that all well behaving players could...

...rout consensus despite misbehaving or even malicious actors in the vote. I'm going to pretend that I understood anything that you just said and nod. But for the CODERS, for the Computer Science Folks Listening, I'm sure you understood what was just said and know that that sounds really important. Probably a lot of them might realize that the coin and it's it's mining process depends on that kind of distributed consensus. Addorithm, and I wish I had known that then that I do understand. So I think that helps translate that for those of us to use the lay person's terms. Obviously that was probably towards the your senior year and senior year. You are also working on job searching now. Going back, you talked about talking with buddies, with classmates, about the opportunities that they had at IBM and other companies. But you're also in a lot of leadership positions and I don't want to jump the gun on that, but I would be curious what has changed in the job searching process from what you went through to what your children are going through or about to go through. The peers of our current scholars some obvious changes. Software that does resume scraening and no, no one understands how it works. Please don't ask me to explain it. Video interviews or are common students having easy access to companies all around the country, all around the world have ways of recruiting that we ever saw at the time. Things that haven't changed, though you mentioned it earlier. Still depends on the networking. It still depends a lot on who you know, who refers you, and partly that's practical for your benefit. You want to go to a place where you have confidence in it, someone you trust is there and you want to work with them and they're telling you good things about it. But it also helps the company a lot that those internal referrals matter a lot and they are how you get through HR faster. HR has more confidence because a trusted internal employee is saying that this is someone they want to work with again and it's worth hiring. So networking is still still critical. So I read through your your linkedin profile in preparation for our conversation today and I noticed that you ascended into a lot of leadership roles really early in your career. So what did you learn from those experiences, and I think importantly for our scholars who are looking for their entry level roles, for their internships? How was that different from being a tactical, technical, frontline staff member or, in many cases probably a coder? What did I learn? Probably the first thing I learned was I wasn't quite ready for some of those worlds. Maybe ambitious and took them on little eally go moving up that ladder. There's a few different ships in perspective and the first, first level of...

...management what a lot of people struggle with is losing that concrete list of here's what I did, here's the code I wrote or the sales that I made, here's what I did, and I can point to it and say that's my success. A lot of people struggle with that. You have to learn to find fulfillment through what your team was doing. I was actually okay with that. A lot of people told me to expect it. So I had good mentors that told me to expect that and so I was mentally ready for it. where I struggled was when things went off the rails. My personal solution was always coding heroics, you know, I could find ways to make it work, find a way to get the job done, and that doesn't work at scale. So the shift there, I mean it's better planning, better contingencies, better tracking, so you knew when to invoke contingencies and drop certain items. It was a definitely different shift there. The next level up, when you become a manager of managers, it's a different mind set shift. At a first line management you track people very closely and you talk to them, you know what they're doing and you kind of monitor almost a daily basis. At least have a sense of it manager of managers. It's a lot more fire and forget, a lot more delegation. You're working with other managers right there. They know what they're doing and you can't scale if you to micromantism and try and supervise them too closely. So you manage a lot more through metrics. You manage almost exclusively through delegation. You still have a mentor and role, you still have a development role with your directory reports, but you're trusting them to do the hands on work of that delivering the product. And then the highest levels you get into more strategic thinking, market positioning, product differentiation and then ultimately valuation and exit strategies, depending on what kind of company are in. Now. You said that you may have drawn into these a little bit too early, but you also took some steps to help you learn these skills by coming back to Penn State for an MBA. Can you tell us what that experience was like, especially coming from the technical background that you had? Yeah, so, I mean, I think they complement each other wonderfully. I was surprised the foundational knowledge I got from the NBA really round it out my understanding. I wrote to manage teams to that point. There were things I learned by observation, bus MOSIS, by mentoring, but the NBA really gave a better that foundation for people management. It also readed me for conversations around strategy, cash flow valuation, like we're talking about. Those are things that, in retrospect, I think I might have jumped into, not recognizing how poorly I understood them. Look back in the time, I remember recognizing that there were people I worked with who are senior, that we're having those conversations, that I realized a lot of it was flying by the seat of their pants. There were good structures and good ways of recognizing and doing things that I think people underestimated. That the value of that...

...formal education and structure. So, since graduating from some meal with your MBA, you've had some titles like vice president and chief technology officer. What is it really like being on that C suite where they're things that you enjoyed? What are the things that you maybe wish that you could be doing but weren't able to do? Sales? Sales strikes me right away. You, when you get to that level, you're always getting pulled into either new customers or customer retention, because there's always issues and escalations. As CTEO, you have more responsibility for maybe being a little further ahead of the curve in terms of what are the product differentiators that we're doing for this new market and therefore, what do we need to build? What enabling technology needs to be out there and ready for us? So it's looking definitely much further horizon as what you're looking at on that regard, like I said, the shift to managing through delegation. You're not hands on, your trusting teams to say I need a software architecture and need something to address this problem. Go right new one and please, please bring it back in three weeks. And like trusting teams to do that. And maybe you think you could have done it by yourself or maybe you couldn't have. It's you need to let go of that, because otherwise you just cannot scale and you can't get it all done and you're going to end up hurting your team and solving performance. So, other than maybe considering an MBA, what are some things that scholars to be doing right now to prepare for both those early technical roles and those senior leadership rolls down the road? Grab the right mentor work with the right person. Find managers that you respect, that are really good at their jobs and that are willing to invest in you. I have had a couple managers that have really stood out to me over the years, where I learned different techniques of breaking down problems, of analyzed things, sanity checking work that I apply every day and their judgment, their steady, calm demeanor and how they approach problems really influence me. You learn a lot by watching them and learning how they do things and then taking and listening to their advice. Or get an NBA because Commun you got to push the Penn state degree, absolutely, and shameless plug for the world campus. It's Meal College Business Partnership through the online MBA that I'm in right now. So, highler, recommend checking that out after you graduate. So shameless plug there. But you mentioned mentor. So I want to take another detour here and ask you mentioned kind of the calm and steady presents, but are there other indicators of folts that could be good mentors and, more importantly, how do you approach those conversations? Do you outright asked will you be my mentor or do these things develop organically for you? Sometimes they're formal, sometimes it is your manager, the person hiring you. Let me very...

...explicitly. I've had managers hire me with the stated intent of I want you to be my successor, I want to grieve you for this. That happens. That's very clear. If not, I think what more often happens is you go to someone you respect and you've heard maybe you haven't seen them in those strategy conversations because you're not in them yourself yet, but you hear people talk about them, you see the respect they get from other managers and you go to them and say I want to learn about this or I want to achieve this kind of role or explore this kind of role. Can you help me or what advice can you give me? I don't think it starts out as saying will you be my mentor? That's probably not quite as explicit. You develop that relationship and eventually just realize that they are. But the key thing there, though, is you've go you've gone to them and said I want help to do something. Going to somebody generically saying will you be my mentor is it's so hard for for that person right they don't know what you want to do. They don't know what you're struggling with, what you already feel you're good at. You need to get them some structure. Here's what I want to accomplish out of this, and then they can do a lot more for you. That's great insight. Be Been Very clear on what you're actually hoping to learn and get out from them. If that is strategy, if it is coding, if it is something in another industry entirely as the mentor if they, if you're Mente, does not know what they want. So scholars listening figure out what you want, and maybe that is what you're trying to figure out. Is what you do want, but that is something in itself. Now I want to steer the conversation in a bit of a different direction. We've talked a lot about big picture and philosophical mentoring, but you've had a really stellar career working in software development and different things in this space. I'd love to hear about some of the technical accomplishments that you've either directly contributed to or have helped lead in your leadership roles. So this is your opportunity to just geek out a little bit on the coding and technical side of your story to date? Sure we'll. Right out of school I was lucky to land at a company called Trans Arc and before the docom bubble, this was attracting some really top talent. We were doing distributed systems. I got to learn from some incredible people that have gone on to build their own companies and be very successful. But for a formative experience right out of school. I look back on it I'm just still a little bit shocked at how Lucky I got, just how fortunate that worked. Networking through Penn staters to Penn state professors is how I found it, but that was a great formation. A couple things that stand out. I was with. I was the start up in California in early two thousands getting into mobile APPS when mobile was first coming out, and this is pre iphone, pre android. So remember the ecosystem we take for granted didn't really exist. But we had an application. We want awards for it but still have no way to monetize it. You couldn't get had to give half of it or seventy percent of it to the mobile carriers, otherwise they went in stallid. So we came up with...

...a way to monetize it through advertising and a going remember they down your phone wasn't a thing yet. So the advertising how to be built in, how to be automated. We built little advertising that work. We built a way of selling as then how do you get it on the phones? So we built sideloading techniques to get it onto the phone. We built a gain distribution network to put it on a whole bunch of different websites. That there was a ton of stuff there that we now take for granted. That was pretty pretty interesting and exciting. Now I'm on a daily basis. I work for Google and I work on the AD brain platforms. It's a phenomenally successful machine learning environment that it's callably one of, if not the largest production neural net in the world, and we use it to predict which add you're going to click on. So they practical application of machine learning. So for those of us lay people, can you give a little bit more insight onto what machine learning actually is? We hear this term in the news, we hear in different spaces, but if you don't know what machine learning is, can you give us a quick crash course on this concept? No, the joke is that none of us can reproducibility and explainability are key problems in machine learning. Now, basically to those lots of kinds of machine learning, I'll focus on neural and that's which is probably the one, the most common. If you imagine a huge matrix with, in our case, several layers of variables at all feed into one another, you give them inpults and it multiplies through this huge matrix and it comes out with the prediction at the end, two things that stand out is we initialize it with pseudorandom variables and then the way we train it in the wise called machine learning, is the machine teaches itself. We give it some known answers and it progressively refines all the coefficients in that Matrix until it can reliably reproduce the known answers, and then we give it a whole bunch of unknown inputs and trust it's output. So it's really that native process of letting the machine train itself and tune its own parameters that makes it machine learning. I'll refrain here from making any Skynet jokes. Yes, we do joke that we're responsible for managing it. So when it becomes selfaware, we have to take it out. Now you mentioned, and this is probably something that might have drawn a lot of you listening, is seeing where you currently work, which is, in fact Google. Now you talked about what you're we're working on right now, and obviously that's a huge revenue stream for a lot of the things that you, as you said, we take for granted in the ecosystem of APPs and the Internet as it currently stands. But I'd be curious what is it actually like working at Google? I think we've seen the images and the stories of some of the new companies of the twenty one century, like Google, like facebook, like Pixar, that have...

...these more laid back atmospheres. Is it actually like that? Give us your insight for students who may be wanting to pursue especially considering you don't work in Silicon Valley itself now. I work in pittsburgher work in the Google office in Pittsburgh. Although Google New York is huge, it's not the size of Silicon Valley, but man it's big and it's definitely attractive depend state students that are might be looking in terms of culture. It was very laid back. I will say Google's culture is the best I've worked under. The policies are really built on the premise that employees are valuable and they can be trusted. So flexible hours, open ended sick time, that you're sick, just stay home. You don't need to account for it, to just for justify it and doesn't come offlication time. You can travel to me to the teams their support for family needs if somebody so at the beginning of the pandemic I had some unexpected needs to help care for my parents and I told my manager and the reaction was, here's carefully, just take it go. We'll take care of everything here, but family first. That in just trust to employees that it's not going to be abused and that when people need that help they really need to help. Underpins the whole culture. Google has a lot of investment in community. We're my performance ratings actually have a community component what we do for community and actually a lot of my stuff I do with Penn stage shows up on my cogle performance review. But it's required, especially at the higher levels. The higher you go, the bigger the community requirement. It's not like something that's just given a low level employees so that high level employees can focus on the work. No, it's the opposite to when I hit again, when covid hit. I A friend of mine is public health reporting and owns a company doing public health reporting and I wanted to go volunteer to help him do some things and I checked with Google, just expecting them to say that there's no conflicts of interest and we're cool to do it after hours. Instead, they offered me time off, paid time off, to go do it and they asked if there was opportunities for others to volunteer to help. It's a totally different perspective. And then, of course there's, you know, the free and really good food. The food really is as good as they say. My Rooftop Patios and they have massages and all the other office perks people talk about and you see and and movies. They are real. I miss them and I'm eager to get back in the office. So for you listening, it's clear that, Jim, you or at home right now working and hopefully this podcast also counts towards your performance metrics as a community involvement opportunity for the Shryer Honors College. So you're directly working in the coding and technical side of Google right now. What brought you to this space to come back to the tech from the leadership roles that you've held. I had a leadership roll couple jobs back. Didn't really bad sit. Didn't like it. Burned...

...out, but I take it some time off and then Google recruited me and they recruited me as a senior manager. But I guess I did well enough in the tech and of you. So they gave me my choice and after confirming the pay was the same for either one, I said, hey, you know, I love to go back to tech and this opportunity to work closer to the exciting field of machine learning, especially at the scale like Google does. It was really unique. So yeah, I jumped at that con chance to come back and do that again, and I have to imagine part of that was also the culture at Google that you've just described. Now, for students who are trying to pick maybe between internship opportunities and job opportunities that are availing themselves to the students, how do you start to Parse that out in the interview process? Is there any practical tips of what students can look for to help pick up on either green or red flags in that process? I will move an extreme example, and it's from my personal experience and I completely missed it. I interviewed a one company and the people in the interview said you probably don't want to work here. It's not they were unhappy and they said it's not a great fit. Whatever reason, I ignored them and I took the job and I absolutely hated it and I quit a year later as soon as my sign on a relocation bonuses were we're up. So there are some pretty obvious red flags you can find the way. I would check a students are looking for it. Ask about working conditions, ask about after hours. Don't be afraid to say they what is the culture like? To is their crunch time is there? Are People treated well at the happy just ask the questions. Some people don't avoid it. If there's really a problem, some people tell you honestly and many companies just don't have problems, that they really are good places to work and you'll get enthusiastic, happy responses and if you get one, that's a great green, green indicator. Fantastic, and I'm sure you've shared this advice with your children because you have a special distinction of being a first generation shry or scholar, because your son is a second generation scholar. Mm can you speak to the experience of raising a second Gen Penn stater and shry or scholar? So I will admit I didn't know he was coming to Penn state till the last minute. He had a couple of their options and I didn't know Penn State was going to win out. I was thrilled that it did, but he had a couple of the really good options in terms of you know that experience now as a parent. I was talking to him last week and seeing the excitement about his research, which is unique to Shire. A lot of other honors programs some are almost like special interested dorms. They're not not the excent of shires. See Him excited about his research and you understand. Yes, that's not only what's unique about shriers, but it's why you go to an our one university, like top research university that focuses on that. Their unique opportunities to do things that maybe only four or five other people in the world are working on right now.

The coolest thing was here him explain it, hearing enthusiastic and following about half of it, maybe, and it's exciting to see how that works that's great and I think you just nailed a huge part of the experience for our scholars is there's an excitement to be here. This is a special place. Things aren't always UNICORNS and rainbows and I'd be curious if there was A, I'll call it a transformational mistake that you made at some point, whether as a student as a professional, and what you learned from that that you could share with scholars. Think there's probably too I come to mind one more personal one will work related the work for older one actually goes back to your earlier question about red flag screen flags and the job. I mentioned that I really didn't like going into it. I knew there was a lot of organizational problem. was being hired to rebuild an organization. I've always has been really enthusiastic about technology. I thrive on that. I thrive a working people that are excited by that, and none of that was there and I was really being brought in to do a lot of cutting, do a lot of restructuring. That was very difficult in an organization that had a lot of ongoing revenue demand, that hadn't been able to invest in technology for several years and there wasn't any obvious new funding source to do that investment. All those are things that I really thrived on. I should have connected those dots better at the time and so I wasn't a good fit. I didn't enjoy it that. That really burned me out. So that was a difficult thing. Yeah, there's someone degree of self awareness there, learning what you thrive on, what kind of people you want to work with, what's important to you, and then making sure that the company actually has those things and that you're not. You can build a lot of it, you can lead a lot of it, but if you're fighting an established culture, that that that's really hard. The other one I would stand is you can get one of those mistakes that you only realize years later that you made a mistake informs you. I will say that earlier to thousands. I it was great. I was doing awesome. I had teams, I was managing, I was at a startup, I was doing my MBA, family kids. It was great. I was working like crazy, I was spending long hours, I was up late every night, but it was good. I was enthusiastic and joining the people. And I made that comment about six or seven years later and my wife looks at me and says, Oh, you mean those two years and none of us ever saw you like, oh, how Huch, okay, I'll think I realize that. I don't think so. MRFA was missing. It was underestimating what the impact on others were, but I think what were the transformational thing there is when you think you've got it all and you think you're getting everything done, it's important to realize who's holding you up and who's carrying you, and that was really one thing to make a lot more aware of that that my family, and my wife particular particularly, was was carrying me throw a lot of that definitely really powerful things to think about and take with you. If you want to rewind and listen to the last couple of minutes, I would recommend you do so. Those are some really, really important thoughts. On...

...the flip side, though, I'd be curious what would you say is your biggest success? It definitely has to be family. It's not not professional. We've my wife and I raised sons that we are just incredibly proud of. Their great men. They're they're smart, they're carrying then their Penn stators. So we're so glad that we have that the family has all that in common, but that's definitely the biggest success, taking the concept of Penn State family to a very literal extream. I love it so obviously you and your wife graduated from Penn State a few years ago. I'd be curious on your approach to professional development and how you continue to hone your skills well after your time as both an undergraduate in an MBA student. I'll say my approach is kind of all over the board. Definitely there's the formal education. I and got the NBA. I also did went back and got a technical certificate machine learning, and that was from Michigan Professional Development. A lot of it comes from working with a good mentors, recognizing things that asking for advice, taking new projects so great well of this is great. Really get a mentor and advice is take on a project that's a new and challenging for you and make sure that the person depending on you to get it done has the time to help you get it done as a time to guide you and getting it done. That's a great way because and they they're definitely invested in you. A lot of reading, a lot of personal projects on the side for technical advancement staying fresh there and obviously listening to podcast if you're if you're listening to this right now. Also a great professional development opportunity, so will throw that one in. there. Is a shameless plug for our show here. Are there any professors or friends from your your days as a student, that you would like to give a shout out to? Professor John Hannon. He's Associateth, head of the compside department. He joined right around the same time I did. Depends state as an UNDERGRAD. He's connected to shryers. He's been an honor's advisors, my son's honors advisor, and he's been a pillar and compside for a couple decades now. So definitely shout out to him. To Pharaoh scholars, they graduated with me a scholars and see us grads, Kevin Hutchison and Mike Smith. They both had great good friends and great a colleagues. They've had good careers building companies. I'll give you their emails. He can pull them on the podcast which. Speaking of, if a scholar wanted to reach out to you and continue this conversation and pick your brain further, what's the best way for them to connect with you? Several students have family the align link, so that's definitely one way to do it on Linkedin as well. That's available. I'm actually working with the ECS alumni group at the moment. We're looking to start interview resume prep Bush like industry alumni advisory group for students to get that ready. So I'll probably see a lot more see students in particular through that program that is great to hear and I appreciate the plug for a lion link, which is the Penn State version of linkedin sponsored by the...

...pen State Alumni Association. So thanks to them and thank you for plugging that. As we're wrapping up, is there any final piece of advice that you would want to leave students with? No, no, you, like I said, when you when you find mentors, when you go and ask her help, you need to know what what it is you want to do. Is sure to ask that of your mentors, because they can't really help you and give you advice if they don't know what you want to do and what you're trying to accomplish. So there's really no general advice I can give you other them. Maybe approach your sources of advice that way. That's a really good perspective on mentors and I'd also love your perspective on our traditional final question here on the show. If you were a flavor of Burkie creamery ice cream, which would you be? And, as a stolar or alum, most importantly, why would it be that flavor? Well, I struggled on this one. I'm the fitter sweetment is industry. The way, the best flavor. I will awesome with anybody says alive, but my wife's favorite is death by chocolate, so I'd go with that just to make her happy. That's very sweet, just like both of those flavors, despite the bitter and bitter sweetment. I agree. Those are both great choices, great rationale. Jim, thank you so much for your time and all of your wonderful insights, not just for CS students but for all of our shriier scholars. Really appreciate it. Thank you for coming on the show today. Thank you. It was a nice Ding here. Thank you, scholars, for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show probably supports the Shure Honors College Emergency Fund Benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at rays dot PSU DOT edu, forward slash shreire. Please be sure to hit the relevance, subscribe, like or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the college on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin to say uptodate on news, events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a scholar alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on following the gone, please connect with me at scholar alumni at PSU DOT ETU. Until next time, please stay well and we are.

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