Building Business Muscle

Business Administration certificate graduate Srikanth Kannan looks to move from software engineering to a management role

“I was really good at sciences and math,” Srikanth says of his high school years. “Though I enjoyed learning about the anatomy of critters, the thought of dissecting one deterred me from choosing it and led me to choose computer science. I enjoyed that computer science is rooted in mathematics.”

After high school, Srikanth attended Anna University, SSN college of Engineering, graduating with a B.E. in computer science. Soon after graduation, Srikanth joined CSC (now DXC Technology) in Chennai, India, as an associate application developer. “I was part of the team that worked on the application supporting commercial and property insurance firms based in the United States. I had the opportunity to learn about mainframes and to learn about commercial property insurance,” he says.

He completed two certifications in property and liability and commercial insurance that helped him gain a better understanding of the insurance business. These certifications also helped him step up to the next level in his career.

“But after a couple of years, I wanted to further my knowledge in computer science and grow professionally,” Srikanth tells me.

“After talking to my friends and colleagues, I decided to pursue a master's degree in computer science. I applied and was admitted into the master’s program at University of Florida (UFL); they have a well-reputed computer science department and I was awarded a scholarship. Plus, the tropical climate and humidity reminded me of my hometown.”

To pay for his expenses and gain real-world experience to help in his job search after graduation, Srikanth found an internship opportunity as a graduate assistant in the university’s Nuclear and Radiological Sciences department. There, he worked on building a mobile application for Blackberry that had the potential to be used in a U.S. federal agency.

Of this experience, he says, “This presented an unique opportunity for me to learn a new domain and build a mobile version of a MATLAB application, as well as to gain experience from ideation; defining requirements; project management; and implementing, delivering and supporting the application.”

Salesforce and Adobe

Armed with a master’s degree in computer engineering and new skills, Srikanth found himself moving to San Francisco.

“I got an offer to work for Salesforce as a software engineer in Quality and Automation,” he enthuses.

“One of the first projects I worked on was to build tools to automate manual tasks and ensure the quality of migration of its core finance application. This was a massive undertaking that involved collaboration across teams from different functions. Working with finance, marketing and product teams, I developed an interest to learn about the business. I was looking for an in-person business course of study with a flexible schedule when I came across UC Berkeley Extension.”

Supported by his employers—first by Salesforce and then Adobe—to pursue continuing education to develop his career goals, Srikanth attended an information session for working professionals. At first, he was not sure about pursuing a certificate program.

“I enrolled into the Essentials of Business course, thoroughly enjoyed it and then registered for the Certificate Program in Business Administration,” he says. “I switched employers after completing a couple courses and I was fortunate enough that both of my employers were able to reimburse the expense for my coursework, which helped me continue.

“The courses at Extension helped me get an understanding of the skills needed to lead.”

Although Srikanth’s educational experience with us was altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he says that our instructors were a big reason he registered for our program in the first place. “They bring a wealth of information and experience to learn from.

“I enrolled in the in-person Applied Economics for Business course just before the pandemic forced the lockdown that transitioned this to an online-only class,” he says. “The instructor, [UC Santa Cruz] Associate Chancellor Ashish Sahni, encouraged discussions about the topics when it was an in-person class. It took us a couple of classes to carry over the in-person discussions over to the online meetings. This experience helped me adapt and interact better in the other two online courses that I took later in 2020.”

He credits every one of his instructors—with no exception—for enhancing his learning experience and making it enjoyable.

For example, Srikanth relates:

  • Robert Coackley made corporate financial management simple to understand with examples from his vast experience.

  • Sung Hae Kim, Ph.D., made learning organization and management fun with the help of case studies and class exercises followed by lively class discussions.

  • JP Novin, my instructor for Essentials of Management, set the expectations upfront, tailoring the course to our needs. He demonstrated accountability by gathering feedback at the end of every class and incorporating those in the next class.

“I also appreciated the diversity of my fellow students in the courses and learning from different perspectives.”

So Now What?

When Srikanth began at Adobe, he led the implementation of a new integration that collected, processed and stored advertisement traffic data, leveraged existing infrastructure to stream data, and created an application using Amazon’s SWF to load the data into HIVE and Druid data stores. “After Adobe acquired TubeMogul, I led the implementation of one the first projects to integrate Adobe's creative media services into AdCloud’s (TubeMogul) real-time streaming platform,” he says.

Now as a senior software engineer at Adobe, Srikanth is building scalable backend applications for the company’s digital advertising, mentoring junior members of the team and setting them up for success, and enabling customers to succeed by proactively working to resolve defects and prioritizing customer requests.

“The courses at Extension helped me get an understanding of the skills needed to lead,” he says. “To put into effect what I learned, I started proactively seeking feedback from my colleagues and manager and working on addressing them. I also offered to be a mentor to the interested members in my organization and provide constructive feedback on their work. I was also able to use my leanings in my volunteering opportunity with a nonprofit organization to be a mentor/leadership coach for high school graduate students seeking job opportunities.”

Recently accepted into the Quantic School of Business and Technology Executive MBA program, Srikanth attributes this next career step to what he learned in our Business Administration certificate.

“I’ve gained better insight into management decisions through what I learned in the Business Administration certificate. I am working on getting into a management role, and I believe I can make a case by earning an Executive M.B.A., leveraging foundations I have learned from the Business Administration certificate program.

“I also believe the certificate program played a role in giving me an edge to get into this highly selective program that only has a 13-percent acceptance rate.”

What advice does he have for others looking to change or enhance their career with business skills?

This computer science engineer on his way to more business-oriented roles encourages “anyone who is looking to get a basic understanding of managing or running a business to enroll in this certificate, especially people like me who have had little exposure in business.”


Learn more about the Certificate Program in Business Administration.