Logo: University of Southern California

Google This: Completing a Master’s Degree While Working and Raising a Family

In order to learn critical career skills, Michael Bachman pursued his M.S. in Engineering Management while tripling his Google engineering team to nearly 75 employees and raising a family
By: Derek Lazo
October 31, 2013 —

Innovate or die – a mantra many in the fast-paced technology world have long since accepted. But how does that translate to the individual when educational advancement requires sacrificing professional ambitions or time with a growing family? Michael Bachman, Director of Engineering at Google Inc., found a solution to his dilemma in a flexible master’s degree program that utilized an interactive digital classroom for remote students.

Bachman focused on his technical computer science skills as an undergrad and throughout his career at Google, but knew it was time hone his leadership and management abilities to progress in his career. He recognized the skills needed to run a global engineering team: strategy, experiment design, technology management, engineering economics and system architecture, among others. While he knew a master’s degree was the logical step, taking time away from Google or putting a family on hold was not an option.

“In such a fast-paced company, the thought of putting my professional career on hold while pursuing my master’s degree was out of the question,” said Bachman. “I needed a program that was prestigious, online-based, provided me with immediate benefits at Google and helped me build a skillset for a lifetime.”

Based in the Bay Area, Bachman had plenty of local options to consider. Yet, after extensive rounds of Googling and researching programs, he found the solution with the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. USC offers a M.S. in Engineering Management completely online through its DEN@Viterbi program. There were also no requirements to be on-campus, unlike the local universities he was considering.

“I weighed my options between a local or remote program, an MBA, Computer Science or an Engineering Management program. There were many variables to consider, but in the end, DEN@Viterbi was the most flexible and respected – it was the top, online master’s engineering program in the nation after all,” said Bachman. “I continuously had moments where I knew I made the right choice: from learning how to run complex, scalable and deterministic technical experiments, to making strategic technical decisions and their financial impact, to learning that keeping heads down on the success today leads to failure in the long-term.”

Bachman participated in live class lectures and reviewed notes conveniently timed around his work schedule. The advanced technology enabled him to interact with other students and professors in real-time from any locale in his global travels. Most importantly, despite his busy schedule, he still was able to have quality time with his new family.

“I remember watching a lecture with my first new born in my arms and thinking how incredibly fortunate I was to find this program. It seemed like the DEN@Viterbi program was the future of professional education, except it’s available now,” said Bachman. “From the moment I started the program, I felt I was prepared for my own success. The student tools, infrastructure, faculty and all-around flexibility meant I could balance my work at Google, master’s education and still have time to enjoy my new and growing family.”

While Bachman went through the program, his team tripled to 70+ employees across North America and Europe. He has been not only applied what he learned from his degree to his job, but also passed along those key lessons to his staff.

“For us young professionals, in this global, competitive and high-tech environment, we need to constantly position ourselves for the long-term. This though, in my view, couldn’t come at the personal sacrifice of a family or stalling of a professional career. I’m so impressed with the program and its flexibility that I’m pursuing my second master’s degree in Computer Science through the DEN@Viterbi program this Fall,” said Bachman. “I hope that anyone struggling with the decision to pursue their education or continue their career looks to programs like DEN@Viterbi.”

With one master’s degree under his belt, he’s confident in his success toward his next degree and his leadership future at Google.