From Data Entry to Google Cloud Leader: Greg Wilson Explains Art of Career Pivot

Greg Wilson, Head of Developer Advocacy of Google Cloud Platform, gave a talk at Hack Reactor last week to students and alumni on education, technology and the life of a developer. Wilson discussed his own career path from low-level data entry to Google, continually touching on the theme of recognizing pivot points when the technological landscape or one’s own passions indicate that it’s time to make a change.

"There's going to come a point in your career that you're going to have to pivot,” he stated, noting that he found a new technology to focus on, often accompanying a new job, every three years or so.

Listen to Wilson chronicle his career journey here:

Wilson pointed out that while Hack Reactor teaches the most up-to-date technologies, the more important skill was learning how to learn.

"When you finish this course, you're going to be so good at learning, like a muscle that's been pumped up. Don't let it go away. Keep learning," Wilson urged.

Hack Reactor emphasizes the ability to learn more than any particular technology, throughout the curriculum. Students often quickly learn new languages, frameworks and libraries, as the need arises for their projects.

“I was really surprised that he didn't emphasize any tool or framework,” observed Caly Moss, a Software Engineer and staff member who helped coordinate Wilson’s talk. “Software Engineers spend so much time arguing about the next best tool.”

Wilson advised that it’s best to think of education not as a commodity, but as a subscription: something to continually renew and update. The closest he came to endorsing a specific realm of technology was to point out the enormous importance of big data now and going forward.

"In the last two years, more data has been collected than all the time previous to that," Wilson pointed out.

Wilson was vocal about his interest in staying connected to the Hack Reactor community, saying that he hoped to be back soon.

“I love what the school is doing,” he noted.

Moss was struck by his warmth and genuine desire to be a mentor.

“He was a fantastic speaker,” she described. “He was irreverent, humble, and engaged the students really well. He was very honest and gave very actionable advice.”

Wilson left all those in attendance with a parting gift: $500 worth of cloud storage services.

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