A Walmart-to-Google Career Change


Trading Furbies for Fruit Ninjas, Amy Thompson moved from a role as senior toy buyer with Walmart to manager at Google—during her first year in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program. She now manages retail partnerships for Google Play, an Android platform for apps and digital media.

RenderImage.aspxThompson’s move reflects a frequent occurrence at Berkeley-Haas: students who change careers while earning their degrees. In a survey of recent graduates of the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program, 32 percent of respondents reported changing careers. Those who did grew their salaries by, on average, 44 percent, from a mean base of $93,640 to $119,821.

Thompson, MBA 15, had spent her career at Walmart. “I felt my work experience was strong, but wanted additional perspective on business,” she says of her decision to pursue her MBA.

“At Walmart I really enjoyed having responsibility for everything from financial plans and budgets to how products are presented in stores,” she says, “but the business is obviously very established, so work was focused on incremental growth.”

As Partner Manager, Thompson is a regional lead for Google Play gift cards, with a focus on launching business in new countries.

As Partner Manager, Thompson is a regional lead for Google Play gift cards, with a focus on launching business in new countries, which is what appealed to her. “I came in at the beginning stages, with a lot of structure to be built,” she says. In her first year she has overseen the Americas and launched the gift card business in Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico.

This opportunity opened with a recruiter reaching out to Thompson via LinkedIn; it closed with support from her Berkeley MBA network. “Written recommendations are an important part of the Google hiring process,” she says. “If you have people at Google who recommend you, that goes a long way; two of my cohort mates did that for me.”

“People in the Berkeley MBA Program are some of the best I’ve gotten to know over the course of my career,” says Thompson. “Through relationships at Haas, I’ve learned much about other industries that’s brought me to where I am today.”

Thompson recently marked one year at Google. “When I took a step back and realized all that has happened, from completing my first year at Berkeley-Haas to launching three countries and building out my team at Google, it was incredible. If that’s just the past year, I can’t imagine what the next couple of years will hold.”

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About The Author

Julia is Associate Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She hopes these blog posts provide you with more personal insight into the Berkeley-Haas and Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA program experience.