Ed Kargbo had a successful career, serving as general manager and president of Austin’s Yellow Cab for eight years.
But he started to feel like he was falling behind. So Kargbo took action, enrolling in Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he’s serving as a Sloan Fellow as he pursues a master’s degree in business.
His wife and three daughters – his primary motivators, he says – are by his side, joining him in California.
This summer, Kargbo was selected for a 12-week summer internship with Google at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View.
The American-Statesman talked with him recently about what the experience has been like, and why he shifted his career to go into the technology sector.
American-Statesman: What made you decide to change careers?
Kargbo: I decided to change careers for a few reasons: One, I have the full support of my wife and daughters who inspire in me the confidence that I can do anything. I want to build a better future for them. Several family members of mine are entrepreneurs, and I didn’t want to fall behind, so I seized the opportunity to get ahead. Additionally, I love challenges and opportunities. I’ve volunteered as a mentor for many years and there are many people who will go through the struggle of upskilling or adjusting careers in order to find work in an ever-changing economy. I decided to go through this experience hoping to encourage and inspire others. I’ll also be able to say that I’ve been through the struggle and teach from experience if I get the chance to guide others through.
Why did you decide to go into the tech sector?
I decided to go into the tech sector because I want to be a part of the digital revolution. I’ve observed the tech industry transform the economies of cities like Austin – and others. I saw an opportunity to transition from operating in an analog domain to participating in the digital economy, where I could ultimately build a business in the future. Businesses in the digital economy scale efficiently and in many instances create access and opportunity for large populations of people, where those opportunities didn’t exist previously. I want to be a part of that transformation and contribute to creating opportunities for others.
How did you find out about this internship program?
I found out about this internship program through the Consortium, a career forum and orientation program for business students from diverse backgrounds. I’m grateful to Elaine Conces and Dr. Amar at Austin GMAT Review who made me aware of the Consortium.
What made you want to apply?
I’ve been inspired by Google for many years, since the founders took a unique approach to the company’s initial public offering. I was inspired by the auction process, prioritizing of the culture and building a business for the long-term instead of quarterly results. Google is a leader in technology, and I wanted the opportunity to learn how one of the best companies in the world works.
What has the experience been like?
The experience has been terrific. Google lives up to all the hype. I’m surrounded and supported by very smart people. I’m working on a project that will have a lasting impact on the financial operations of the company, and I’ve been granted full autonomy to work in collaboration with Googlers to achieve my objectives and key results. I have access to fitness facilities, transportation (I rode a gBike to celebrate my first day) and the world-renowned cafeterias — all things that have helped me stay energized and productive on the job and foster relationships with my teammates and fellow interns.
What was the biggest takeaway for you?
My biggest takeaways are the lessons learned facilitated by the access. Access to opportunities like this can be vital to the long-term success of any individual who gets to learn in this environment. You leave here with enhanced confidence and a can-do attitude. You’re emboldened to go out and solve big business problems while trusting your own abilities. I’ve learned so much from the people I’ve worked with, and each of them have been willing to contribute to my success. I’ve spent more than 100 hours meeting individually with all levels of Googlers. From senior vice presidents to my fellow MBA interns, everyone is accessible. I now might also be the only person in the world that has individually signed copies of “How Google Works” from each of the book’s authors, and I can’t wait to read their next book about Coach Bill Campbell.
Did the experience change the way you think about Google? If so, how?
The experience has changed the way I think about Google, and I firmly believe the Google (Alphabet) approach to solving for X will be taught at length in the next generation of business case studies. The more I learn about the nuances of Google’s approach to innovation within a large organization, the more excited I become about the future. Also, I came in expecting to compete in Quidditch, but because of the World Cup, we’ve been playing soccer all summer long.
What’s next for you?
My short-term focus is to continue building on my general management skills and being a good husband and father. I’m excited about the opportunity to work around technologies that will change the world for the better. In the upcoming year, I’ll focus on learning more about business strategy, finance, data analytics, the engineering of new technologies and stretching myself by learning Python.
How will you use what you’ve learned in the future?
When I go to start or run my next business, I will use everything I’ve learned from Google regarding finance, operations, investing, corporate culture, strategy, venture capital and building a large technology company. I will also lean on the advice I get from countless Google leaders and friends who are helping me grow by leaps and bounds.
What advice do you have for others considering this program?
I’d advise others considering this program to seize the opportunity. Beyond the perks, of which there are many, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get to make a lasting impact on the inner workings of a multibillion dollar company as an intern. Google will trust you to bring your big brain to work, your coworkers will encourage you to contribute your ideas, and the leaders of the company will listen and help guide you through the process of implementing fresh and creative ideas. Google is an organization determined to continue learning and improving, a perfect place for talented people who want the same.
There are many interesting and insightful people in the Central Texas business community. The American-Statesman business reporting team brings you in-depth interviews with some of them, focusing on topics that matter to our community. To nominate someone for the Statesman Q&A, email Statesman business editor Barry Harrell at email@example.com.