Network, focus on project work, follow your passion and work hard: Molina Sharma offers advice for engineering students
- Degree: Master of Applied Science
- Campus: Vancouver
UBC Engineering alumna Molina Sharma’s enthusiasm for engineering is limitless. Now working as a Cloud Solutions Architect at Microsoft, Molina’s career trajectory is testimony to her enthusiastic embrace of new opportunities and commitment to being at the leading edge of her field.
An early interest in computer engineering
Molina says she was interested in electronics and computers from a young age and remembers being thrilled when her parents brought home their first PC. When it came time to choose a major, engineering won out over computer science because she wanted “to learn the technology” behind the applications. Her passion for learning led her to move to Vancouver in 2012 to do a master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a subspecialisation in Engineering Management.
“It was an amazing experience,” she says. Highlights include meeting the person who is still her best friend on her second day on campus, learning from some professors who she is still in touch with, and organizing and participating various events under the Indian Student Association. She is beyond thankful to Dr. William Dunford, Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, for all his support during her tenure at UBC.
Dr. William Dunford Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Launching her career in the cloud
After gaining some engineering work experience, Molina landed a position that was the foundation of her career trajectory. Cloudreach, a UK-based company, was setting up an office in Vancouver and looking for cloud engineers and analysts. Did Molina have direct experience in this area? No. Did she have the foundational knowledge needed and a commitment to problem-solving that got her hired? Definitely.
“I was told that my degree from UBC combined with my passion and enthusiasm for learning were deciding factors for why they hired me,” she says, noting that within two years, she was the senior-most specialist on her team.
In 2017, she was approached by MicroStrategy, a US company that was impressed with her resume and accomplishments. They were soon to be impressed by her can-do spirit. “In the last of my three interviews, I was asked ‘are your ready to pack your bags?’ to which I said ‘I am ready to fly out this evening.’ The interviewer was shocked, but that’s the level of passion I had for this company and the work I would be able to do for them.”
Molina flew down to Fairfax, Virginia, with two bags, and soon set up her life. Over the next three years she become a Senior Cloud Systems Engineer, working with clients to manage their technology infrastructure and migrate existing solutions to the cloud, all while managing a team of engineers.
Shortly after the initial outbreak of COVID-19, Molina received an invitation to interview with Microsoft, and she soon found herself packing her belongings once again to move back to Canada.
Cloudreach MicroStrategy Microsoft
A Cloud Solutions Architect for Microsoft
“As a Cloud Solutions Architect for Microsoft’s Global Partners Solutions, I work with Microsoft’s partners around the world to develop integrated solutions that combine the client’s core computing, network, storage and security services with the cloud,” she explains. “This includes technical development and architecture design to develop solutions that give our partners more flexibility and power.”
Molina is particularly proud of the work she’s done developing multi-partner programs and workshops in Azure Infrastructure practice where the partners and customers have developed skills like cost optimization and securing their cloud workloads. Her accomplishments garnered her a Well-Architected Framework for Azure Leader badge from Microsoft in recognition of the work she’s done to accelerate customers’ cloud adoption journey.
She’s a trailblazer in other areas, too. Apart from being the only woman in her core technical team, she is also the only woman selected from her team for the Technical Leadership Development Program taking place at Microsoft Canada this year.
Molina is a strong advocate of diversity and inclusion both at and outside work where she drives various programs and team discussions towards this topic in her current role.
Advice for engineering students
Molina has lots of advice for engineering students. First and foremost: network! “Do as much networking as you can,” she advises. “Attend career fairs, talk to people, get their email addresses and connect on LinkedIn. Then, when you are applying for a co-op job or job after graduation, you have connections you can start from. Also, don’t be shy to reach out to ask for a virtual or in-person coffee chat. Many times, you won’t get a response, but I promise that if you make that extra effort it will pay off some day.”
She advises focusing on experiences rather than grades. “Work hard on your class projects or projects you’re working on as part of design teams or co-op. That experience is so important and can help you land your dream job.” She also advises that students pick up external certifications in areas outside their focus of studies to round out their skill sets.
Her second-to-last piece of advice reflects her unbridled love of her area of work. “Consider working in the cloud! This is an amazing field and when you work in this area, there is the opportunity to learn so much, all the time.”
And her final words of wisdom? “Self-belief and hard work will always earn you success.”