“What’s the most entrepreneurial thing you’ve ever done?”
For several weeks, students, professors, and staff from both the School of Information Studies (iSchool) and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management have been pondering this question. This prompt does not come out of the blue; it’s one of the leading questions Syracuse University alumnus Michael Librizzi asks every day as a Product Partnerships Executive at Google. Arriving for a short homecoming as part of the iSchool’s HINDSights program on September 15th, Librizzi was greeted by fascinated students. He eagerly recounted his experiences and lessons learned as a 2005 triple major graduate of iSchool and Whitman programs.
“I loved the iSchool! It really is the confluence of business and technology.” Librizzi said upon interview, launching into reasons why his SU education in technology was so valuable for his current career.
The iSchool Influence
“I describe the iSchool influence in three ways. I firstly think about the technical skillset that I built here, starting from data architecture to web design,” Librizzi stated. The technical knowledge Librizzi learned throughout his iSchool career is put to everyday use as he strives to improve the digital lives of billions of Google users by creating new products and technological experiences. “I really work to think through how to take a product from concept phase, or the idea stage, to launch it with strategic partners in market, and ultimately to scale it to millions of developers or billions of users,” he said.
Michael Librizzi ’05 (left) talks with graduate student Kyle Rand in NEXIS during his visit to the iSchool last month.
Librizzi’s current job in Google’s San Francisco Bay area office is quite important; he’s played a role in the development of Google Assistant, Firebase, and new user identity security methods. It’s a perfect blend of the skills he learned through his time at Whitman and the iSchool because he deals with specifics of the business of technology day in and day out. “I actually came to Syracuse University because it was the only school I found with a dual technology/business program,” Librizzi recalled.
Continuing his ideas on the iSchool influence, Librizzi progressed, saying, “Secondly, I think it [the iSchool] fundamentally helped me with the functional skills and role-related knowledge needed. It’s not just about the technology; it’s certainly about the information and how we apply it.” He feels strongly that the public speaking skills, business models, and strategy learned within the School of Information Studies is integral for a successful career far beyond the realm of SU. “Teaching this type of knowledge really makes the iSchool stand out,” he stated.
Librizzi named the third influence of his undergraduate education as career opportunities and growth learned through the iSchool. He knows the ebb and flow of career building well; before Google, much of his knowledge was learned from past engagements. Librizzi was an analyst for Morgan Stanley directly after graduation and subsequently started his own venture, a business publishing platform, that operated for three years. He then rose to serve another analyst position for GENPACT before reaching his launching ground at Google. Reflecting on the time it took for his professional career to grow following graduation, Librizzi credits the iSchool’s preemptive teachings and his own intrigue in change. “Change is good,” he said. “I had multiple jobs before I was at Google, and that helped me to find a role I was really passionate about.”
Be Patiently Passionate
Another necessary aspect to follow the preemptive teachings learned in a university setting, says Librizzi, is the ability to know what you want and be willing to wait for it. To describe this upon his visit, he coined the phrase “be patiently passionate.” As advice for recent graduates, Librizzi elaborated, “Make sure everything that you’re doing, you’re passionate about it. Care deeply about what you’re doing. But – make sure that you’re patient. Don’t confuse patience with being passionate. It’s going to take time to grow.”
As a hardworking alumnus with an obvious career success story, Librizzi is a true role model. Students from the iSchool and Whitman alike can look up to and appreciate his hardworking ethic. It seems as if many more Syracuse students will be willing to remain “patiently passionate” following Librizzi’s visit.