How Pankaj Pilaniwala ’18 (MIS) Went From Startup Founder to Google Product Manager

student profile

Pankaj Pilaniwala ’18 MIS received his undergraduate degree in computer science, earned an MBA and founded a startup. And that was all before he moved to the U.S. to study at the Eller College of Management.

Born in Kolkata, India, Pilaniwala was always interested in technology. He enjoyed video games as a child, and at age nine he discovered computers.

After earning his bachelor’s degree and an MBA in India, he went on to work in his native country for six years. During that time, Pilaniwala even founded his own startup called MBApedia, which provided study materials to MBA students.

But he soon decided to revisit his initial passion for tech.

“I realized technology was evolving at a rapid pace,” says Pilaniwala, who also noticed that much of the innovation in the field was occurring in the United States. Thus, he elected to pursue an MIS degree in the U.S.

Pilaniwala applied to a few schools and ultimately selected the University of Arizona, largely due to the MIS program’s curriculum and hands-on approach to learning.

“Eller College has a stellar reputation for teaching business and providing cutting-edge technology, and at the same time engaging students in projects with a hands-on approach,” he says.

When looking back on his time at the University of Arizona, Pilaniwala appreciates the relationships he made with those in his cohort and others on campus. He also enjoyed exploring new areas of study, as he was able to take courses in subjects like philosophy and economics.

“My time at Eller was transformative,” he says.

Post-graduation, he held positions at Visa and eBay before securing his current job as a Product Manager at Google. Residing in the San Francisco Bay area, he is currently working on Google Play and gets to combine his skills in business, technology and UX.

“Product management is challenging and rewarding,” he says. “Google has been my dream company.”

For those interested in product management, Pilaniwala offered bit of advice: Don’t wait to get started. Noting that “the best way to learn is by doing,” he recommended volunteering to work on a project, joining a startup or even building your own product.

If product management isn’t for you, explore other options and find something you love.

“Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to take risks and challenge yourself,” he concludes.