6 Questions With a Google AI Research Director

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Anoop Sinha has over 20 years of experience in computer science. Read on to learn more about the tools, skills, and growth opportunities that have made a difference in his career.

[Featured image] A portrait of Google AI Research Director Anoop Sinha

Anoop Sinha is a research director focusing on artificial intelligence (AI) and future technologies at Google. He has an extensive computer science background, which he’s built over 20 years, starting as a software engineering intern and advancing his career from there.

Sinha has worked in both the tech and consulting industries and earned his PhD in computer science. To this day, he continues to have fun creating software prototypes. “I use a lot of small scripts and tools in my workflow to improve my own productivity,” Sinha says. “I enjoy being able to create and customize those.” For example, he’s recently written scripts using large language models (LLMs) to auto-generate notes, outlines, and draft ideas, allowing him to dedicate more of his energy to critical tasks.

Still, in his quickly evolving field, he appreciates that he’s not alone in his endeavors. “Software is a team sport” is a sentiment that has been embedded in his experience since the beginning, he says.

Here, Sinha reflects on the tools, skills, and growth opportunities that have helped him the most throughout his journey.

Work is more about projects than about classes. Build that portfolio of projects, writings, and knowledge from the very beginning. Those are skills that transfer to the workplace.

What type of education was most helpful as you were beginning your career?

In my first job after school, I became a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD). That was my first professional education program. It emphasized to me the importance of lifelong career learning, and that learning could be organized and happen even in a non-academic context.

Editor’s note: Microsoft retired the MCSD certification in 2021, but there are plenty of professional education options designed for people at any stage of their career seeking advancement or a change.

For example, if you’re early in your computer science career, you can learn technical basics with the IT Support Professional Certificate, or if you’re seeking advancement, you may prefer the IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate—both available from Google on Coursera.


What tools have you had to master in order to be successful in your career?

I have learned about data science since the beginning of my career and worked with many generations of data analysis tools, from scripting spreadsheets to desktop databases to notebooks.

I've also spent a lot of time on writing and speaking. Those are areas where I am continuously improving.

Which skills are you surprised you utilize most often in your career?

I'm surprised how much writing and slide-making that I do each week. Writing is fundamental for plans, design documents, and even in working together with teams. Communication is fundamental.

What are three key things that have made this stage of your career possible?

  1. Getting a PhD in Computer Science, where I learned technical skills and how to work through hard problems.

  2. Working as a management consultant, where I learned soft skills.

  3. Changing career direction after management consulting back to technical engineering and research work.

Learn more: How to Prepare for a Career Change: Step-By-Step Guide

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self as you were seeking your first role?

Work is more about projects than about classes. Build that portfolio of projects, writings, and knowledge from the very beginning. Those are skills that transfer to the workplace.

How do you continue learning and growing in your field?

Continue to work on projects, both at work and independently. I keep up to date with what is happening in technical fields I am interested in.

Keep learning with Google

Expand your career possibilities with Google on Coursera. Here are some popular places to get started:

  • Build in-demand AI skills with Google’s experts in the beginner-friendly course Google AI Essentials. You’ll learn how to use this important technology in the real world, from speeding up daily work tasks to writing effective prompts to understanding how to use AI responsibly.

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