2015 Alumni Award for Professional Excellence
Vice President, People Operations, Google
Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Engineering) 1995
Sunil Chandra’s story challenges stereotypes. It highlights the importance of the human and social context of professional and technological achievement. That story so far follows a student from a Bachelor of Engineering with Class 1 Honours at the University of Wollongong to his present position as a global executive and a Vice-President of Google.
Sunil has always looked beyond and across boundaries. Sunil graduated as a computer engineer, a field that can evoke images of individuals working in isolated work stations without much social interaction. He has challenged that perception, observing that: ...”if you think about software engineering it’s part art and part science; and if you think about all the great products out there, it ultimately comes down to the quality of people and the culture of the organisations for which they work”. Sunil’s achievement is his capacity to grasp and capitalise on the connections between ideas, technology and people. This insight has taken him from positions at some of the world’s largest and most influential organisations, from Coopers & Lybrand to McKinsey, Barclays and, finally, Google.
Sunil is an innovative and visionary leader. He has developed technology infrastructure, programs, human resources and management systems that have had an impact across global regions. He has held responsibility for corporate portfolios and large budgets.
At Google, he heads the global Staffing and Operations function and has a key role in sustaining a strong organisational culture for 55,000 employees worldwide. His team affects millions of people outside the company each year, and interacts with every Google employee multiple times each year. His Senior Vice-President writes that Sunil has “forged a group that many regard as the highest performing recruiting organisation on the planet, and - while far less well known outside the company - provides a range of services to Googlers (Google employees) at a level unsurpassed at most comparable firms”.
Sunil enjoys a reputation for relentless improvement and technological innovation. He has excelled as a systems developer and product leader who can attract the best people to his company. A ‘six sigma’ expert, Sunil encourages consistent measurement of performance leading to significant improvements in both productivity and quality service at Google over the past five years. Rather than outsourcing or increasing the use of consultants or vendors, for example, he built three global hubs to provide operational, reporting, and 24/7 support services around the world. Underpinning this exceptional business intelligence, however, is an exemplary attitude and set of values.
Sunil’s colleagues at Google describe him as inspirational; a trusted advisor and advocate. Sunil fosters collaboration and never stops caring about the individual. People enjoy working with him and respect him for his commitment to his family and his community. A staff member says about Sunil, “He has encouraged his team to hold these things sacred as he does, thereby investing in us not just as professionals, but as complete individuals”.
According to Sunil himself, his best advice for emerging graduates comes down to two things. “Firstly, be open to opportunities – you never know what will come up, but if you stay intellectually curious, you’ll do well. And second, whatever you do, do it well – no matter how big or small the project, an attitude of excellence will get you noticed.”
Chancellor, Sunil Chandra is an exceptional UOW graduate. Operating at the highest levels of global business, he remains steadfastly a man of integrity and humanity.
It is an honour to present Sunil Chandra for the Alumni Award for Professional Excellence.
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