Rising Alumni Ready to Impact the Silicon Valley-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Rising Alumni Ready to Impact the Silicon Valley-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Rising Alumni Ready to Impact the Silicon Valley

With 81 students completing degrees, this year’s graduating class is one of the largest of the last eight years at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley and puts the total number of graduates over 500 for the campus!

Graduates of Carnegie Mellon have always been highly sought after commodities, particularly in the software industry. Even in the current struggling economy, alumni of Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley are still the lucky recipients of the “golden ticket”. In fact, many of our graduates this year are in the auspicious position of choosing from some very impressive offers.

Even as a boy, Xavier Reig (SEDM ’10) was fascinated with computers. At age nine, he developed a computer game using Visual Basic and shared it with his family. By eleven, Reig had his own web site; although Internet access in the home was rare at the time in Spain. Regardless of being a “computer geek”, Reig did not plan to study computer science. However, with encouragement from his father, Jaume Reig, he decided to investigate a few options. He knew that when you are exploring software development, you should look to the Silicon Valley.

In the process of investigating graduate schools with degree programs in project management, Reig discovered Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley. He was naïve about the reputation of the school until after he had started the application process. Although intimidated once he learned of the prestigious ranking of Carnegie Mellon, particularly in the field of software engineering, Reig was not deterred. He completed his application and went on for an interview.

Having gained confidence as a student at Carnegie Mellon, Reig sought out job opportunities with the industry giants; including Google and Microsoft. His confidence paid off with a job offer to join Microsoft as a Program Manager within their SharePoint group assisting with the roll out of a new prototype of the Microsoft Office venue. According to Reig, “rather than selling a product similar to the office software they are known for; this venture provides an opportunity for a web-based service that offer clients and opportunity to pay a membership fee for access the Microsoft Office product that will exist ‘in the cloud’”.

Reig has a twin brother, Jordi, who is completing his B.S. at MIT and will be attending Columbia in the fall for his master’s degree.

Reig hopes to return to Spain in a year or two. In fact, he has already investigated the option for transferring to Microsoft’s Barcelona site.

Xinyao Hu (SE Tech ‘10) has been courted by Google, Facebook and Microsoft; in the end, with the phenomenal expansion of the social networking capabilities, Hu decided on Facebook as his opportunity of choice.

Like Reig, Hu was interested in computers at a very young age. His father, Guoqiang Hu, realized the importance of providing his son with a computer, even though it was uncommon in Chinese households. He spent close to a year’s salary to obtain a computer for Hu at age six.

Although Hu began his interest through video games, as he started studying computers in high school, the projects involved more development skills, including designing and creating electronic chess games. His true passion for programming became apparent in college. Hu completed both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Computer Science in China.

Hu was still interested in improving his skills and studying more computer concepts, but was not seeking to spend the extensive time commitment on a doctoral degree. He started researching programs in American universities, and discovered the software engineering option at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley. With his technical skills already solidified, Hu wanted to explore the “soft” skills that were also important in the industry.

Hu interviewed at four major players in the software industry; Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. He chose Facebook because in comparison, this company is still in the earlier stages of development. More importantly, with only about 200-300 developers, Hu will be able to take on larger responsibility; something he aspires to do.

Although he will begin his career at Facebook with two months of training in September, Hu is very excited to be involved in the growth of this social networking group. Hu says, “I look forward to working on back end programming that will provide the site with more accurate news feed and advertising venues for its users.”

Ecommerce at Sephora, a luxury beauty retailer, is not where you would expect to find a software product manager. However, that is exactly where recent graduate, Jenn Huang (SM ‘10) landed. After numerous years working in typical Silicon Valley companies such as PayPal and Intuit, Huang was very excited to have the opportunity to join the Ecommerce industry as Senior Product Manager with Sephora. An affiliate of Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton (LVMH), which provides 80% of luxury products worldwide, Sephora is in a unique position to grow interest of consumers in the on-line product venue.

While working at PayPal, Huang had the opportunity to work with consumer and B2B business units and really enjoyed the experience. When she moved to Intuit, Huang became focused on the B2B space and realized she missed the passion she felt working with consumers. So, in examining her passion, and remembering the rewards of working with consumers, Huang jumped at the chance to test her skills in e-commerce with Sephora. “I’m also a huge fan, it makes the work more fun and rewarding,” says Huang.

Much of today’s purchases are made on-line. Therefore, a company’s web site and user experience really impact the bottom line as well as the lives of its customers. Huang is looking forward to the impact that her work has on the Sephora’s web site and the impact it will have on the user’s shopping experience.

“Today, it is more important than ever to deliver a crisp, clean, reliable user experience to consumers as they become more and more comfortable shopping online and via wireless devices. As a product manager, my focus is the sacred trifecta of balancing the success and credibility of the brand, the needs of the technical platform, all while delighting the customer with a great shopping experience,” says Huang.

Sephora, an LVMH company, is associated with a certain caliber of service as a leading brand in luxury. Maintaining this standard as technology continues to innovate and change involves a certain level of panache in the area of vendor management. Huang summarizes, “generally speaking in ecommerce, a significant percentage of services are outsourced, and it is critical to develop strong vendor relationships. Vendors are the base service provider and are the experts of their product. It’s a very competitive space for vendors and I consider vendor management a critical skill for PM’s to be successful in this industry.”

We congratulate all of our graduates and welcome them into the folds of the Carnegie Mellon Alumni family!