Computer Systems Engineering grad Suman Chagarlamudi, Head of Creator Strategy & Operations at Pinterest, also completed her Bachelor of Arts in Law at Carleton this past August.

Throughout her high-tech career, Suman Chagarlamudi’s philosophy is to only work in roles where she is learning new skills.

She always aims to expose herself to new ways of working in strategy, business or technical engineering to build what she calls “adjacencies”. During the pandemic, she took this a step further and finished two Carleton classes that allowed her to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Law this August.

“For me, school was all about building blocks for my career: here’s how you think, here’s how you solve problems, and here’s something that has a lot of applications,” she says. “The engineering piece was about how to think and this BA was about how to think critically, especially about the way we live in our society.”

This urge to learn extends to her current role as Head of Creator Strategy & Operations at Pinterest, which bases her in Chicago. There are billions of content pieces on Pinterest, coming from over 400 million active users. Chagarlamudi works closely with the product and engineering teams, as well as with content creators, influencers and publishers to help users engage even more with the platform.

After growing up in Orleans and attending Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School, Chagarlamudi decided to go into computer systems engineering for the stability and diversity it would offer her career. She chose Carleton University for several reasons.

“The mid-century modern vibe and the trees by the water are really nice,” she says. “But the real answer is lots of family and friends went there. And Carleton engineering was really well known as a solid school.”

Chagarlamudi completed her BEng in Computer Systems Engineering in 2007, when she was already working at the Department of National Defence. She went on to work at Right Media in New York (later purchased by Yahoo Media) as a solutions analyst. She remembers the caring and unwavering professors and the community aspect of school.

“The professors seemed to be setting the bar for us to be passionate,” she says.

“I also remember specifically Cheryl Schramm was very direct and empathetic with her students. She probably doesn’t remember me, but I remember the way she taught! My team now says I’m very direct and empathetic, which I learned from her.”

After 14 years in sales engineering, which connects business and technical needs in the business-to-business (B2B) sector, Chagarlamudi wanted to go from the B2B world into B2C—where the business deals directly with their customers—and joined Pinterest in 2017.

“I also wanted to work for a company that has integrity, and Pinterest is definitely a company with integrity. People are smart and really nice—they are kind and genuine.”

Chagarlamudi is a first-generation Canadian whose Indian parents gave her the right tools to move ahead in life. Her father went to the University of Ottawa and became an economist, and her mother completed a Masters in Botany at Bopal University in India and went into a high-tech career.

“For my parents, like many immigrants, education was the way to bring themselves up in the world, to make change for themselves and their families.”

For her, as well as her brother and two cousins, Carleton was that avenue to empowerment.

“I’m not sure institutions think of themselves in this way,” she says, “but so many of my family members who are now successful people went to Carleton. There’s something special about that.”

By: Joseph Mathieu

Friday, September 23, 2022 in , , , ,
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