GGU Helps Working Professional Climb the Ranks in Tech

“As a full-time operations manager at a bank, it would have been hard to go back to a typical college and advance from my two-year college degree to a four-year degree,” says John Pichay, who graduated with a BA with a concentration in Human Resources (’15). John saw his peers were struggling to get classes at other institutions, even when scheduled in the day, and he needed an alternative. He researched schools and discovered that Golden Gate University was geared toward people who were already working professionals. Word of mouth was positive among his graduating class of the two-year institution, and GGU accepted all his community college credits.

John chose a combination of online and in-person coursework that met his schedule. Many students walk from their jobs in downtown for evening classes at GGU’s San Francisco – just a stone’s throw from the Salesforce building. John was no different, walking from California and Davis Streets.

Like many professors, she made stories out of numbers that helped me visualize what to use them for.

Academic advisors were also helpful, he says, who planned his schedule out to the completion of the degree that made tackling the challenge simpler. “The advisors were super helpful, and I loved that they planned it out for me. This made it easier for me to focus on my studies rather than worrying about my class schedule.”

Beyond Textbooks

GGU has geared its education to career application for over 100 years. Over 80% of GGU faculty are working professionals, and the rest have significant industry experience. “One of my HR professors, Ron Demerin, worked as head of HR at three companies and could tell us real-life scenarios that fit the real world.”

John went from hating math to loving his courses because one of his favorite instructors made the numbers relevant – Nabanita Talukdar, DBA who taught both algebra and statistics. (A GGU graduate, Dr. Talukdar is Visiting Assistant Professor and Director of Math Programs.) “Like many professors, she made stories out of numbers that helped me visualize what to use them for,” he says. “She made me fall in love with math; and I hated math!” Nabanita went the extra mile to help John by attending study sessions. “She was patient with me and almost literally held my hand throughout the process. She believed in me and was genuinely happy for my success. She’s still part of my professional network.”

Issues in Human Resources

After graduation, John got his first HR job at a tech company called Segment and was promoted to the next level in short order. We asked John what the most important issues in HR are and how he is involved.

Diversity. “Increasing diversity in the tech industry is needed. I am leading our LGBTQ+ ERG: Queery group.” (Segment is data infrastructure company!) “People need to feel safe at their companies, and we help make that happen. We also attend career fairs where we can get such people in the applicant stream.”

In the interviewing loop at his company, a “CORE” interviewer makes sure that unconscious biases do not derail the evaluation process. Segment also has engaged another company to review job descriptions to change words that implied and unconscious bias or could discourage a given population of applicants.

Employee development. In his current role, he strategizes with managers, “so their team members can get the tools they need to reach the next level of their careers.” Part of his job is making presentations to management about how HR can add value to the company. As an introverted person, John says that in-class practice helped him gain confidence presenting in front of people. It is now his favorite part of the job, “and more opportunities are coming my way because of it.”


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