Google's Head of People Operations Addresses Incoming MBA Class
Speaking before the 223 new members of the SOM class of 2011, Laszlo Bock, the vice president of people operations for Google, described his own career path and gave advice from the perspective of someone who now oversees the evaluation of up to 7,000 resumes daily.
Bock earned his MBA from SOM in 1999. "Twelve years ago, I was in your seat. Having checked this, on average you are more experienced, more accomplished, with better grades, and better test scores, but in every other way we are exactly alike," he joked. Bock acknowledged that his first-year experience at the school was humbling, but learning to respond to challenges and adapt has been invaluable. In one of those unexpected changes, he came to SOM to move out of human resources work. "I looked at it as a dead end," he said. But a few years after graduating, and after a stint at McKinsey & Company, Bock returned to the field, explaining that with an MBA he was able to use his new skill sets to redefine his role and make human resources more central to the management of the company.
Despite leading the effort to maintain Google as one of the most desirable and innovative workplaces, he warned the audience that there is no perfect job and instead counseled students to think about finding meaning in the full picture of their career. At the same time he explained that authentic connection to a company is critical to thriving in a job. "The beautiful thing about Google is how closely the values of the company align with my own," Bock said. By way of example, he cited the frequency with which the question, "What is the ethical thing to do?" is asked at the highest levels of the company. He added that that approach to business resonates with his experience at SOM.
In 2008, Bock was named one of the inaugural class of Donaldson Fellows whose personal and professional accomplishments embody the school’s mission to educate leaders for business and society. Read his profile and a story on the Donaldson Fellows Symposium where the fellows spoke about their careers post- SOM.
View video of him on the Portrait 2009-2010 website.
Read an alumni profile of Bock.