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Game-Changers and Street Cricket: A BITS Alumnus at Udemy

Game-Changers and Street Cricket: A BITS Alumnus at Udemy


Mr. Karthik Gunasekaran is a distinguished professional serving as the VP of Globalization and Mobile Engineering at Udemy. After completing his B. Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation BITS Pilani (Dubai ‘09), his MBA from the University of Iowa, and his MS from John Hopkins, he built his extensive career, ranging from startups to taking a company public on NASDAQ. Embark on a captivating journey as you unlock a wealth of insights from a distinguished industry leader.

Looking back at your journey from being a student at BITS Pilani to working as VP of Globalization and Mobile Engineering at Udemy, how did your time at BITS shape your career path in this field?                       

I belong to the Class of 2009 at BITS Pilani - Dubai Campus. Moving away from my family in India and staying in a different country at the age of 17 and learning to live life independently was the best character building experience. Whenever I approached a problem, my friends would give me advice to approach the problem differently. For example, when I was in my final year, my counselor advised me to pursue MS whereas my inclination was to do an MBA. When I explained this to my friends, their advice was to do both. Interestingly, that’s exactly what I ended up doing which has tremendously helped me climb the ladder in my career. I believe the diverse environment that we have in our BITS campuses is a breeding ground for unique ideas, interesting careers, and nurturing a strong environment to have a mindset to achieve those big hairy audacious goals that we set for ourselves.

What differences do you see across various organizations that you have worked in, and how did it impact your growth in your field? How do you adapt to these differences? 

I have had the privilege of working in large MNCs, been part of a company where I took the company from 0 to 1 and also part of a company that I took public on the NASDAQ. My main observation is that companies have to keep changing themselves at every stage to become a successful organization, like metamorphosis. I was the 4th founding employee in an edtech startup when none of us really knew how to run a company. But our vision of a new product in the market got us the funding and pretty quickly we were building the product and launching it in the market. During these stages, we had to learn new things and unlearn a few things. What got us here won’t get us to where we want to go. Some key takeaways:

  1. Continuous learning is the name of the game.
  2. Team culture is very important to build a successful organization.
  3. Prioritize your ideas and dive deep.
  4. Fail fast, learn fast and move fast.
  5. Growing in your career is really up to you.

Looking ahead, what is the future of the product management industry? How do you envision this industry evolving, and what role would you like to play in driving this transformation?

My recent talk in Japan on the impact of AI in workforce

Product management as a function is still not mainstream across many industries. The reason for this is that the agile development methodology to develop new products is only now being used widely across multiple industries and not just software technology. I think with the advent of Generative AI; the product manager is going to have to learn a lot of AI based skills. This will enable the product manager to focus more on the strategy and complex problem solving skills that require a human element. I am actively encouraging the PMs on my team to embrace AI


Throughout your career, what is the one key lesson you have learnt that students can apply in their lives?

Always move out of your comfort zone. If you want to grow in your professional and personal lives, it is important that we challenge ourselves everyday by trying something new. It might be uncomfortable at first, but that’s exactly how you can grow as a person. Comfort zone is where dreams and ambitions go to die. Please also make sure to just enjoy life. It’s a journey and there is no destination. This journey is your reward at the end of the day.

At the summit of Mt. Inari, Kyoto, Japan after a 4-hour hike