In a recent interview with IEOR, Anurag Aiyer, a Class of 2022 alum, shared his insights and experiences on all things IEOR. Since graduating, Aiyer has found success as an Associate Product Manager at Visa. In this interview, we’ll delve into his academic journey, career path, and thoughts on the IEOR field.
What motivated you to choose Berkeley IEOR as your undergraduate major?
Initially, I applied to Berkeley as an undeclared engineering major. I spent the first two years of my undergraduate career taking lower-division classes and exploring majors like IEOR and EECS. I attended a course for undeclared engineers called Engineering 92, which brought in guest speakers from all the different engineering departments at Berkeley. One of the speakers was Professor Robert Leachman, who introduced me to IEOR and provided a high-level overview of what IEOR was all about. Even before I began my studies at Berkeley, when I was still in high school I visited Professor Ken Goldberg’s robotics lab during Cal Day. Professor Goldberg’s research in robotics automation and machine learning left a strong impression on me. By the end of my sophomore year at Cal, I had declared IEOR and was super excited to immerse myself in the department.
What was your favorite IEOR class?
My favorite IEOR class was IEOR 166, Decision Analytics, taught by Professor Rhonda Righter. She is a fantastic professor who is always present at different IEOR socials hosted by IISE. She encourages student growth by engaging with the IEOR community in many ways, not just through IISE-hosted events but also through industrial engineering-led workshops around the country, like the Western Regional IISE Conference.
What made Decision Analytics my favorite class was how it discussed decision paradigms, including recency bias. Professor Righter did a great job explaining these paradigms, making me think deeply about myself during the pandemic.
But what made that class truly impactful for me was Professor Righter’s passion for teaching and her dedication to her students. Despite personal challenges, including a broken arm during the first few weeks of class, she always put her students first. Her love for industrial engineering and her passion for teaching was very inspiring.
What is your favorite memory from your time at Berkeley?
One of my favorite memories at UC Berkeley was attending the Big Game with my best friend. It was such an exciting moment for me, as a big sports fan, and it felt like a big win for Berkeley and the IEOR department. I remember feeling proud to be a part of the best engineering major and department, and that day felt like we beat every university. It was definitely a highlight of my time at Berkeley.
Any advice for current students?
My biggest advice to students is to view life as a school, even when you are outside of the classroom. Your learnings are interconnected, so focus on fostering relationships and building community. Long-term, it’s not about your grades or job experiences; it’s about the relationships you cultivate. Take things one step at a time, and learn how to surf the waves of life’s challenges. Embrace your community, strengthen your relationships, and think about where you want to go in your career and how to shape your identity. That’s the biggest takeaway from Cal – learning how to surf the waves.
Where are you working now after graduating from Berkeley, and what are your daily responsibilities?
I am currently working as an Associate Product Manager (APM) at Visa. The APM program is divided into four six-month rotations. My responsibilities change for each rotation. The end goal of my position is to be converted to a full-time Senior Associate Product Manager and then to a Product Manager. My first rotation was working with one of Visa’s biggest products, Visa Direct. I needed to learn the ins and outs of the product and become an expert.
For my second rotation, I was responsible for consolidating technical information from the software engineering, data science, and various other Visa teams into content that would be disseminated internally for the entire company. I was creating videos and newsletters and doing a lot of stakeholder management. My next rotation was with the Product Design Team, a part of the Visa Consulting Analytics Group, where I focused on product ideation, how to develop a product, and meeting client’s business needs and pain points. My responsibilities vary depending on the team I am with, but my main focus is on product management, consulting, and creating pitch decks.
I am lucky to have had great people managers during my first few rotations at Visa, who have shaped my perspectives and helped me become more confident!
Outside of his work with Visa, Anurag is busy collaborating with fellow IEOR alum Kevin Feng on their podcast, Eclipse Limits, which brings in special guests to discuss themes and issues surrounding self-improvement. You can listen to Anurag and Kevin’s podcast on Spotify at the link found here. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Anurag!