Back to resources

Taking Healthy Risks in your Career

Goal Setting
Personal Growth
Conflict Solving
Embracing Failures
New Manager

28 March, 2022

Karishma Babu
Karishma Babu

Founder at Upspeed

Karishma Babu, Founder at Upspeed, shares her experiences taking risks and making jumps in her career.

About Me

I have never been someone who knew exactly what they wanted to do in life. If you’re one of the lucky ones, more power to you. For me, it has always been knowing more about what I didn’t want to do that led me to the career that I love.

First, a little bit about me. I’ve been a mobile software engineer for over 10 years. I completed my master's in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech and went on to join Samsung to help build their first-ever Android enterprise management framework. Before my final leap to Upspeed, I was leading a team of 30 engineers at VMware to build enterprise mobile solutions that shipped to 10M+ users.

Sounds good so far? Well, the path to get there was nowhere near as straightforward. Growing up, I knew medicine, law, finance, and arts didn’t interest me. So I went into engineering. I have been fascinated by mobile phones since my dad’s first Nokia phone. I remember playing games on it and thought working on mobile might be interesting.

My parents were not engineers, and although they supported me, they didn’t have the background to provide me with any advice for my career. When I was working on my master's degree, I focused more on networking and computer architecture than software development. However, sometime during my college career, I had a project where I was required to write a mobile app – and quickly fell in love. While I continued with my master's program, I knew that I wanted to find a role in mobile software development.

Taking Risks and Making Jumps

I graduated during a recession and began the challenge of finding a job opportunity without all the skills to match it. It was difficult because mobile was still not as prevalent and no one was hiring. I bombed most of my first interviews until I finally landed a role.

I was very lucky that my first manager took a chance on me. I hope that he saw the determination and accountability I would bring to the team. I was lucky that I was surrounded by other engineers and mentors who helped me become a better engineer.

I experienced a similar transition when I made the jump to becoming a manager. I made the shift for a few reasons, but the main one was that I wanted more say in the decision-making and strategy. To be completely transparent: I was unsure if people management was for me, but I knew that without making the transition I would never be sure. Thanks to my managers who put me in roles where I could exercise my manager's muscles, I was a little more confident taking the leap.

It’s the same in my current situation, as I’ve just started my own company, Upspeed. I started by being an intrapreneur, recognizing and solving problems at work. It led me to launch an engineering blog, VMware 360, to help showcase VMware’s thought leadership. I finally made a switch to entrepreneur when I found problems I thought many companies and teams would also face. Again, it’s uncharted waters for me and I’m unsure if it will work out. If I fail I will simply try again.

Key Takeaways

I’ll leave you all with three takeaways

  • It’s ok to not have everything figured out. Try to mitigate risks where possible and take a leap.
  • Know your core strengths.
  • Open yourself up to new experiences. Worst case, you’ll eliminate another thing from your list of things you want to do.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

Hiring a Data Team With a Stubborn Manager

24 May

Liz Henderson, an Executive consultant at Capgemini, shares her experience hiring a data team with a manager who was difficult to work with.

Managing Up
Building A Team
Conflict Solving
Hiring
Data Team
Liz Henderson

Liz Henderson

Executive consultant at Capgemini

The Art of Asking Why: Narrowing the Gap Between Customers and Users

24 May

Jord Sips, Senior Product Manager at Mews, shares his expertise on a common challenge for product managers – finding root causes and solutions.

Customers
Innovation / Experiment
Product
Personal Growth
Leadership
Stakeholders
Users
Jord Sips

Jord Sips

Senior Product Manager at Mews

How Less Viable Solutions Solve Common Architectural Challenges

13 May

Tom Hill, Engineering Manager at Globality, Inc., describes his decision-making practices when making architectural decisions.

Architecture
Different Skillsets
Conflict Solving
Collaboration
Tom Hill

Tom Hill

Engineering Manager at Torii

Navigating Disagreements When It Comes to Priorities

9 May

Pavel Safarik, Head of Product at ROI Hunter, shares his insights on how to deal with disagreements about prioritization when building a product.

Innovation / Experiment
Product Team
Product
Dev Processes
Conflict Solving
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Convincing
Strategy
Prioritization
Pavel Safarik

Pavel Safarik

Head of Product at ROI Hunter

Leading Your Team in Stressful Situations

27 April

David Kormushoff, Director at Koho, recalls how he galvanized his team to tackle a time-sensitive problem, sharing his tips on how to shift chaos into calm.

Goal Setting
Leadership
Conflict Solving
Deadlines
Collaboration
Motivation
Strategy
Health / Stress / Burn-Out
David Kormushoff

David Kormushoff

Director at Koho

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.