Real Humans of Google: Malvi Hemani, Kellogg MBA/MS ’21, Google Product Manager
In Real Humans – Alumni, recent MBA graduates discuss how business school prepared them for the next phase of their careers. In this edition, Malvi Hemani, Northwestern Kellogg MBA ’21, talks about landing the role of Google Product Manager at Google. Google was created in 1998 in Menlo Park, California, and it currently has nearly 150,000 employees and receives more than 125,000 internship applications every year. Read on for how Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management prepared Hemani for the exciting life of a Google Product Manager, her advice to current MBAs and more.
Malvi Hemani, Kellogg MBA/MS ’21, Google Product Manager
Hometown: Watchung, New Jersey
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Johns Hopkins University — Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science 2015
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Kellogg School of Management: MBA + MS in Design Innovation 2021
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Deloitte Consulting (4 years, healthcare technology consulting)
Post-MBA Work Experience: Google Product Manager (less than 1 year, geo maps)
Why did you choose to attend business school?
As a young girl, I always knew that I wanted to obtain a master’s degree. During my first job post-undergraduate, I realized there were two things I wanted from my graduate degree: 1) build upon my confidence to become an inspirational leader and manager and 2) test and try multiple career functions and organization sizes in a low-risk and low-commitment manner.
Why Northwestern Kellogg? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I chose Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management for several reasons: entrepreneurial opportunities, student-led mindset, strong leadership training, a group-focused and collaborative learning environment, human-centered design focus and social culture. Yet, out of all the reasons, the two biggest drivers were the community and dual-degree program. I strongly cared about the community that I was about to spend two years in to grow personally and professionally. Kellogg stood out as the best fit for me, and the “low ego, high impact” culture was exactly what I wanted. The dual-degree program was also important to me because it gave me the opportunity to explore product roles in technology. It also equipped me with the skills and experience I wanted and introduced me to a close-knit community of like-minded individuals. When you’re comparing schools, there, unfortunately, isn’t a scientific answer for how to find the best fit. It’s important to do your own research, immerse yourself in the community if possible and speak with current students and alumni. One thing I highly recommend to get an ‘inside’ look into a school is to follow different clubs’ social pages, like Instagram and blogs. This will allow you to see the real humans behind the school that no website or blog can tell you.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
During my MBA, there were a few experiences that prepared me for my current career. First, I founded a startup, Cravosity, where I was able to apply a multitude of skills that I was learning in the classroom and validate that I love being the “CEO” of a product. This prepared me well for a career in product management as a Growth Product Manager where my day-to-day is to determine market potential, test and launch product ideas to acquire and retain customers and analyze revenue impacts of strategic decisions. Building and launching a startup during the pandemic was also timely in teaching me how to iterate on products, finding product-market fit and being empathetic to customer needs. The skills I used to develop a business model, validate customer pain points, establish the roadmap, launch an app and create a brand and marketing strategy all came from MBA classes I took at Kellogg.
Another MBA experience that prepared me for my career was interning part-time at a Chicago-based startup. Exploring different functions and departments across the company made it easier to filter and focus my internship search. An additional benefit that I realized afterward was the experience helped differentiate myself from other consultants applying to similar roles post-MBA.
Lastly, resources at Kellogg like KTech and Interview Prep Group helped me prepare for both my career search and the interview process. Similarly, being part of a student-led community helped me and my classmates prepare together — everything from editing my resume, practicing cases, to wishing each other luck before interview day. You always learn something when listening to a classmate describe a concept in their own words or ideate new product solutions for a pain point. Those moments all contributed to my product mindset.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned as a Product Manager at Google on the Geo Search team. I loved the experience, and it helped validate that I want to pursue a career in product management in technology. Moreover, the experience confirmed my love for flat cultures and creative co-workers, who are thirsty to try cool and crazy ideas! Learning what day-to-day job I loved and the culture I preferred to work in strongly informed my post-MBA career choice.
One of the biggest advantages of business school is the ability to test and try different things out before committing formally. The internship is one of the biggest. It is a learning experience for you to verify hypotheses, such as your career goals, geographic location, company sizes, etc.
Therefore, I recommend you choose an internship that helps you prove or disprove something you want to solidify to guide your professional journey post-graduation. You should not be afraid if it is not the “perfect” job you told yourself you wanted in your business school essays. Just like any product experiment, you’ll learn something through any internship, even if it doesn’t seem fully positive. Whether you find that you love it or that you want to do something different, that is a new piece of information that will help inform your next professional decision.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
It would be a lie to not say that the compensation was an important factor, especially after a two-year investment in your career development. However, beyond that aspect, I spent time assessing each job opportunity against two main questions: 1) What might be my job three-five years after this role? 2) What new skills or topics will I learn and how challenged will I be? I realized early on in business school that getting my dream, ideal job was a five-to-ten-year goal, rather than something I could achieve right out of business school given my career tenure. Framing my first job post-graduation as a stepping stone to get to my ideal career made it easier to determine which company and job function was best for me as a passion for the product or “making an impact on humanity” became less of a priority.
Google was a great place for me to join post-graduation to shape my product management skills amongst a strongly product-minded and collaborative culture. Moreover, the role was for a B2B product that would challenge me to learn new ways of designing and testing products as my experience had been in B2C thus far. Moreover, an important skill that I learned in business school, but had not yet utilized professionally, was A/B experimentation. With experimentation at the center of Google’s product ethos, it was a great company for me to practice what I had learned in the classroom.
How has COVID–19 impacted your industry/career plans?
COVID–19 did not have a direct impact on getting or choosing my career plans for Google, but it did impact my experience starting my career. Most prominently, the Noogler experience at Google is something I was so excited to experience. Unfortunately, it is sadly difficult to recreate virtually. That definitely had an impact on how I started my career. Similarly, with remote work, I haven’t yet met all my co-workers, which is non-ideal in a collaborative function like product management.
However, COVID–19 did impact my aspirations to be an entrepreneur. I started Cravosity at the onset of the pandemic as I found myself with a lot of free time that used to be occupied with social activities and extracurriculars outside of the classroom. I may not have had such a powerful impetus to start the idea and complete it so quickly if COVID–19 did not occur. This has definitely had a positive impact on my career.
Advice to current MBA students:
-One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
LinkedIn Premium! Before you sign up, go connect with as many people in your network and new business school class. You will be so surprised how quickly you can find someone to do a soft introduction to a company you have an interview at or a job you are looking at.
-One thing you would change or do differently?
I chose most of the extracurricular activities and course curriculum based on what skills I wanted to better master or learn that aligned with my future goals. However, I wish I pushed myself to take classes that were not directly related to my career aspirations or expanded my knowledge outside of my comfort zone (e.g. venture capital courses).
-Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
I always thought there was a right and a wrong answer to product design questions. However, throughout the recruiting process, I was surprised to realize that it was less about the answer itself, but more the rationale and explanation behind the ideas you were sharing. Learning that helped to practice articulating ideas with thoughtful or data-backed logic rather than trying to design moonshot ideas on the fly.
-What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
“Try things that scare you.” Business school is a safe environment where your classmates and professors want you to try something new, even if you fail at it. The intent of the experience is to learn and grow. It is a hard mindset to embrace depending on your typical appetite for risk, but it is important to adopt to get the most out of your experience in school.