Executive Interview: Rama Gopalan

image source: Rama Gopalan

As a previous graduate of Cal State East Bay with a Masters in Computer Science, and a current Senior Engineer Manager at Splunk Inc., Rama Gopalan knew that her interest in logic and problem-solving would lead her into a technical field.

A mother of one, Gopalan grew up in India and lived there for most of her life, later moving to the U.S. and attending graduate school to pursue her Master’s Degree. Hard work is no foreign concept to her, and she desires to make a profound impact on the world with not only her career, but her personal drive. “I started out as a software engineer and I worked as an engineer for about eleven years, and then I moved onto Engineering Management, but I got to try out many other roles in between…I basically got to know a lot of aspects of writing software, testing software, and talking to customers about how they use our product. Management has taught me a lot about how to make the best impact on the company while at the same time growing your people, so I  got to learn a lot about my team.”

When asked whose shoes she would want to step into for a day, she explained, “When I went to the Grace Hopper conference, there was a lady, one of the speakers, who talked about how she taught how to develop software and write code to a bunch of children in Africa.” She went on to explain how inspired she was from this speech, “She wasn’t very wealthy, but she saw how [the kids] did not know what a laptop was, did not know what a keyboard was, and she made it her life mission to teach kids how to code, how to use a laptop or a computer.”

Gopalan chases a sense of personal achievement, as well as adrenaline, wherever she can find it. A lover of hiking as well as running, one of her most notable hobbies is finding different mountains to hike, such as Mount Whitney. Though she one day hopes to climb Everest, Gopalan’s current proudest accomplishment is “when [she] got to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.”

Staying true to her Indian roots, Gopalan knows four languages, three of which are Indian. “I speak four different languages: English, Hindi, Tamil, and Marathi. I learned French at school but I don’t speak it very well. If I had to pick a language to learn, I would say Italian, because it sounds very beautiful.”

One of Rama Gopalan’s biggest personal hurdles is, as she describes, her lack of consistency. While a career in STEM does require some level of regularity, Gopalan explains that this aspect has been one of the most challenging for her to overcome. She explains, “I don’t have a lot of consistency in what I do. I tend to do things for a while really well, and then slack off instead of following through.” However, she aims to overcome this, as she does not like to leave any problem unsolved—a philosophy that makes her perfect for the career that she has chosen.