The plan is to create a plan, says Google’s Bangladeshi man


Tech Desk:

Zaheed Sabur, the first Bangladeshi principal engineer and only director at Google, wants to give back in whatever little way he can, especially by sharing his experiences and knowledge with young people in his motherland.

“So, I guess the plan ahead is to create a plan,” Zaheed who had not ever really planned or even thought of beyond what he just achieved told UNB in an interview.

The young professional says he wants to carve out time to spend on sharing his experiences on a weekly basis. “I receive messages, questions from many young people. I’ll start by preparing materials to cover them and also share on my Facebook for others to benefit.”

Zaheed, currently working at Google’s Zurich office in Switzerland, said he always believed the best way he could contribute to his motherland is by becoming successful himself first.

“That has been my mission and now in my mid-30s I feel like achieving kind of that,” said the engineer who got addicted to electronics in the 4th grade and proudly sees himself a pure product of Bangladeshi education system.

Responding to a question, he said if Bangladesh’s education system can produce a principal engineer and director at the world’s top tech-giant then that itself speaks volumes about its competitive standards and strengths in the global context, especially in the area of science and technology.

Zaheed graduated from American International University – Bangladesh (AIUB) and joined Google. Out of over hundred thousand full-time employees at Google, there’re only about 250 Principal Engineers. “I can only imagine things are even better now after all these years.”

Responding to another question, he said he is not here to say government jobs are better or worse than what he does because that is all subjective.

“By no means, I’ll ever recommend that everyone should have the same goal in life. We aren’t robots, we shouldn’t act like one,” he said.

He believes the best thing about all is that they are all different, thus it should be up to each of the individual to decide what they would like to do in life.

“What’s really important though is that we make an informed decision. We shouldn’t blindly follow the future that others have painted for us. At this age of globalisation, the whole world is our playground. We should learn about all the amazing opportunities we’ve and then decide,” he said.

Zaheed completely disagrees with the perception that meritorious students go to public universities.

“I’ve friends who went to public universities and I can tell you many horror stories of how the teachers there act like god,” he said adding that he could focus on actually learning things instead of worrying about the mood of the faculty or the politics of pleasing anyone for a fair grade.

Zaheed, however, said there are of course many great things about public universities and not all faculty members are the same.

“In the end, it’s really about what’s more important to a student. Based on my best understanding, I would frame public vs private university experiences a bit like “arrogant greatness” vs “humble sincerity”, and I would pick the latter every single time,” he said.

Talking about his mother Lutfunnessa Begum who was the Principal of Patuakhali Government Women’s College until leaving the country to pursue her PhD in Economics, he said he would be a very different person today without the huge positive influence of his mother ever since he was a child.

He fondly recalls his mother bought soldering iron, multi-meter, etc for him and even took him to the stadium market many times to buy necessary parts like resistors, capacitors, transistors, ICs, relays, etc. “This was really the beginning of my journey towards engineering.”

As asked to know a bit about the persons who inspired him to think big and accomplish big in this short span of his life, Zaheed replied, “I prefer skipping this question to be respectful of the privacy of these people.”unb


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